My camera guy din't show up, so I had to use this stupid photoSo Carlos Mencia showed up in Salinas on Friday night, and boy did he clean up.
By my estimation, there were anywhere from 800 to 1200 people in attendance. At $33 to $37 a pop, performing two sold out shows, he probably made more in one night than i'll see all year (and that's after taxes).
Oh, and he sold merch before and after the show, which meant more cha-ching and, ultimately, more bling for the toad-looking comic.
Still, judging by the crowd response and the long line at the merch table before and after the show, folks in Salinas seemed more than happy to shell out the dough. And Mencia, to his credit, made sure they left feeling like they got their money's worth.
Mencia's show played like a low-rent hip-hop/rock concert, with booming bass, a raucus crowd and even some booty shaking. He had five opening acts, including his pisca brother Joe, who asked the crowd "Are jew reddy for tha cho" in an accent so thick I swear the nopal on his forehead was poking people in the first row. But that was what made it so damn funny.
Joe is the guy on Mencia's show who advertises "Wetback English" instructional tapes for gueros who can't get a job because they speak relatively good ingles. He did about five minutes before his brother's show to get the crowd hype, and his schtick was perfect for the working class Salinas Valley crowd that showed up looking for a good time.
(An aside about the crowd - only in Salinas will you see tailgate partying before a comedy show in the rain! I rolled up into the parking lot and saw at least three different groups huddled up, Coronas in hand, clouds of smoke emerging from the center. It looked like a bunch of Indian tribes communicating through smoke signals.)
Back to the show. The other comics included a self-depracating Chicana who clowned a few heckling male audience members("I f**** you last Thursday, you weren't that good") A white guy named Ted Zeppelin who played drums and bragged about living in the barrio; a little person who did one hell of a Mexican hat dance; and Steve Trevino, Mencia's head writer on the show and a pretty mean C-walker himself.
And then there was Mencia. Dressed in a simple red t-shirt, sweats and tennis shoes, he played to the locals right off the bat, sniffing the air and saying "Watsonville's here. I can smell you guys." He then proceeded to name check Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Castroville. He even referenced King City (!) in a joke about white people that really was only funny if you're from the area.
His jokes were mostly on point, and seemed to be pretty new (at least compared to those on his DVD stand-up special). He riffed on blacks, whites, mexicans, asians, and, particularly, Middle Eastern-ers. He had some harsh observations on Middle Eastern people who complain of profiling at airports, suggesting they keep quiet and take the abuse the same way blacks and Latinos have since the country was first colonized.
Mentally retarded and disabled people were not spared either. During one extra funny bit, Mencia talked about a trip to Magic Montain where he unleashed his frustration with losing his place in line to a person in a wheel chair. Later, he said he was forced sit next to the same person he dissed, and ended up punching the guy when the parapalegic kicked him with one of his failed limbs. But it was all good after that, and Mencia and the wheel chair guy ended up hanging out for the rest of the night.
All through the set, Mencia kept it on the verge of tastelessness and outright disdain. He crossed the line more than once, but stayed true to his assertion that "At some point, I will say something that will make you say "That's f*** up."
Never was this more evident than during his bit with the disabled guy at Magic Mountain. The girl next to me, who had been roaring through the first half of his set, suddenly sat marbelized, as if the jokes were just too messed up to laugh at.I looked at her and realized that Mencia wasn't just trying to be funny, he had seriously touched a nerve with some people.
At the end of the show, Mencia took the time to thank his crew and the audience, and then treated them with a staged dance off between Trevino and the little guy. Trevino did a honky tonk dance. The little guy did the centipede. It was even more funny than it sounds.
Mencia invited a girl on stage to get a special lap dance, during which time Mencia dropped his drawers and sat on her lap. It was even more gross than it sounds.
But the fact that he invited the girl on stage and had a realy active audience participation spoke well for Mencia. He seemed like a pretty cool guy, and for those that paid, it was money well spent.
The show ended with Trevino exclaiming "Thank You Salinas. We'll see you next year." Judging by the long line of folks waiting to buy his merchandise after the show, Mencia and his crew can't afford not to.