In the war of art, plagiarism is arguably one of the worst crimes one can possibly commit. Integrity and originality are two staples of the standup comedy profession and when a comic is exposed for stealing somebody else’s material, a respect is lost that in all likelihood will never be gained back — That is the cornerstone of this tale and a little bit of insight into how this meltdown came to be.
Carlos Mencia was making waves during 2005-2007, selling out shows and killing left and right. He was given the keys to the comedy kingdom with his sketch show, “Mind of Mencia,” having a slot right next to “South Park” — Comedy Central’s double-down wager following Chappelle’s immeasurable success with his sketch comedy show.
Pegged as the guy to replace the absent Dave Chapelle after his fallout from fame in 2006, Mencia’s show seemed to be catching on as it was well received by critics and the public alike (lasting four seasons). His show probably would’ve lasted longer if it weren’t for one problem: Mencia was a joke thief; he ripped bits from Bill Cosby, Ari Shafirr, George Lopez and an undetermined amount of others.
It was only a matter of time before it all caught up to him and when it did, it was brutal in every sense of the word. The firestarter came in the form of a comment Joe Rogan (UFC commentator, former “Fear Factor” host and standup comic) left on his website in 2005 accusing Carlos Mencia of joke thievery. From there, it escalated into a back-and-forth with many exchanges of slander coming from both parties involved. It wasn’t until a fateful night in 2007 when the two met face-to-face in front of the most judgmental of standup audiences that this story would evolve from a he-said-she-said Internet feud into a full-blown altercation.
The unfolding of events took place at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles — revered by many to be the epicenter of everything that is standup comedy. The Comedy Store is where established comics go to try out their new material on audiences that don’t respond with automatic laughter to every joke. There are a great deal of quotes out there from comedy greats who reference The Comedy Store as a gage for what new material they’ve been working on will and won’t work — A lot of the time, the audience consists of other comics and a crowd of non-comedians that would die before they would hand over their laughter without it being genuinely earned.
If comedy were Rome in the year 80 AD, The Comedy Store would be the Colosseum (complete with bloodthirsty Romans) — and of course Joe Rogan and Carlos Mencia would be the gladiators fighting for the life of their future in comedy.
Rogan was hosting a comedy show and was in the midst of introducing a comedian that opened for Carlos Mencia in the past. Rogan took it upon himself to casually reference Carlos Men-steal-ia when giving the introduction (“This is a real funny guy. He opened for Carlos Men-steal-ia.”) which was a nickname Mencia picked up around the standup scene (Mencia claimed that everyone in the standup scene called him “The Punisher” at the time. I defy any living soul to try not to laugh at that). Mencia happened to be in the audience that night and took it upon himself to get up on stage and snatch the microphone from Rogan.
He started scolding Rogan about this and that — accusing him of spreading lies out of spite and jealousy. From there, an impromptu battle of wits ensued that was so packed up full of animosity that these two at times looked like they might start throwing fists.
Rogan was without a microphone for the first minute or so of the confrontation and at first it looked as if Mencia was winning the argument. Once Rogan was handed a microphone of his own, it was all over. Rogan thoroughly humiliating Mencia — He called Mencia out on so many different things that Mencia simply didn’t have an answer for; the crowd recognized this and began to turn on him. After a certain point, Mencia became flustered and started to act like a stuttering fool unable to keep his lies straight anymore.
It is reasonable to assume that this whole scenario would prove to be the destruction of Mencia’s potential stardom as he simply wasn’t respected after Rogan exposed him with so many eyes watching. When notoriety makes it all the way to be a topic of a “South Park” episode (“Fishsticks”), you’re pretty much dead in the water (“South Park” being the very show he had a time slot next to… some serious irony right there).
“You hear that cheering? This is cheers for someone who creates their own shit. They know I’m honest, mother fucker.”
(Joe Rogan directed at Carlos Mencia when Rogan was handed a microphone and the crowd started to cheer for him).
Watch the confrontation below