The Mind of Mencia Creator talks about his role in the latest Farrelly Brothers comedy
In the Farrelly Brothers new comedy The Heartbreak Kid Carlos Mencia plays Uncle Tito, a free wheeling concierge at an exotic resort in Cabo San Lucas. Carlos recently met up with us to discuss his latest comedic creation, and what it was like working with both the Farrelly Brothers and their leading man Ben Stiller.
Here is our conversation:
Carlos Mencia: Arrggghh! Hi, everybody! How are you? How are you? Great! Great! Now what? I have to talk into one of these things? Uncle Tito has to talk into one of these things? (grabs my microphone and feigns mock surprise).
Did you have to audition for this movie, or did they just say, "Hey, Carlos, come on down. We want you in this movie!"
Carlos Mencia: It was somewhat of an audition. What it was? There was never a question in their minds about my ability to be funny. It was that scene after I'm in the room with his wife, where I play it serious. They wanted to make sure I could be on that. Even though it's a funny moment, it's a very grounding scene, and its very dramatic in its nature. I had to go in there and show that that part was something I could do very well for them. After I did that, everything was cool. I never felt like it was an auditioning process. I always felt like we were talking about what needed to be done to make this role work. Not that it was an audition. I'm sure they felt that it was an audition. But I never felt that way.
Did any part of this process make you nervous?
Carlos Mencia: You know what? Auditioning is always hard for me. That's probably why I told myself this wasn't an audition. I hate being judged. I hate that, man. Don't judge me. If you think I work well, give me the job. If you don't, then don't hire me. I hate that moment of, like, "Okay...Thank you." You know what? "Fuck you!" I hate that moment. I really do. I know I'm funny. I know I can do it. But if not, then lets forget it. There's something really awkward about the whole process. Auditioning is completely different than acting. That's the problem. You are auditioning in a way that is not conducive to what you will be doing later. Its like, "Hey, we need a French Chef, can anybody make tacos?" It's like, "What? That is totally different than French cuisine." That is what the auditioning process is like. As an example, when you are acting, it's more about reacting. You say something, and I shake my head. There is a dialogue that is occurring there. That is different than working off some stiff non-actor going monotonally, "Yes. I. Am. Really." You are just staring into this face of nothingness. Then, sometimes, you are reading a role where there are three people. You are in this car, in this fake movie scene. In reality, you would be in the passenger seat looking to the left. And then looking back at somebody. But they don't want you to look back, because there is a camera right there. It is the total opposite of reality. So, I hate the process. But the Farrelly Brothers never made me feel that way. When they do make me feel that way, I hate it. I get nervous. I get freaked out. It is creepy. It is weird and foreign.
Have you ever dated two women at the same time?
Carlos Mencia: Two women? I've dated many women at the same time. But I told them. I didn't keep any secrets from them. I didn't say, "You are the only one for me." It was more like, "I'm just one of all your chicks." And I said, "Yup." You know what I mean? I was like, "I don't know who told you, but that's a fact." For me, it's always better to tell people the truth, because people can accept the truth. Look, when I was dating a lot of people, I never told them about it. You don't just throw it in their face and make them feel like they are just one of all the chicks. If it ever comes up, you go, "Well, come on, sweetie. You are not my girlfriend. I date, and you date too. I don't want to hear about the guys you're dating." And its cool, and you move on. I think that's what attracted me to this movie. Aside from all of the funniness, it is grounded in something real. Its like, "Hey, you know, if you tell the truth and you're honest. You will be all right in life." You know what I mean? These people were not honest, and then they were confronted with who they really are and what sort of situation they put themselves in. They had to be honest, and at the end you see that come to fruition. That's the grounding that I thought was interesting in this movie.
Does your wife have annoying habits?
Carlos Mencia: Don't we all? And the habits that are awesome at first, aren't they the habits that become annoying later? At first, it was like, "Oh, I love the way you chew." Then five years later, "I fucking hate the way you chew!" You know what I mean? It's the same thing with me. At first I was like, "I love the way you fart." Then I'm like, "When is your gas ever going to end?" It's always like that. I think it's more about accepting people for their faults, and knowing that is part of the package.
What did you learn from working with Ben Stiller?
Carlos Mencia: I'll tell you what I learned form working with him. Its that when you are doing a movie, as important as it is to have fun and be funny, you understand that this is a movie and that there is an arch. You can move within the constraints of that arch, but everything has to either move the story along or make sense. It needs to lead to something, or encapsulate a moment that is happening. He is great at doing that. He is great at being there in the moment and knowing, "No, you can't do that." Or, "Yes, this is where we should go." Or, "Hey, let's try this." He is a consummate professional, and his timing is impeccable. He made me a much better performer than I am in my opinion. Because he is so good at what he does. And it's not effortless. You can see that it works. There were times when things were not working, and he would just step away. And I would step away. He would gather, and I would gather. We would go, "That feels weird." We would collaborate on it. Then Peter and Bob would come out, and we would all fix it together. This happened enough times, you could just see that we were working it. It wasn't just all games and natural. It was a process. I learned to respect that process being around Ben. In my opinion, he is one of the best comedic actors of all time. And definitely of our day. It was great to see him, and even better to work with him.
You started out wanting to be an engineer, but then you ended up going to open mic clubs? What sparked all of that?
Carlos Mencia: Just my friends. I would go home and watch the news. Then I would go to work and say, "Did you guys hear about the plane thing yesterday?" And they would go, "What plane thing?" I told them, "This plane was flying from Hawaii, and the guy on the news actually said, 'The fuselage came apart at seventy-five hundred feet. A stewardess was sucked out. She is presumed dead.' And my friends would laugh. I would say, "Exactly. What is presumed dead?" And they would laugh more. And I would be like, "Wait, why are you laughing? This isn't funny. This is fucking retarded. These are news castors. She's not presumed dead. She is just dead." And they would laugh harder. And I would be like, "Why are you laughing at me?" And they were like, "You're really funny, man." And I was like, "What do you mean I'm funny." And they'd say, "Dude, you are making us laugh." And I would say, "But I'm not trying to be funny. Aren't you supposed to try to be funny to be funny?" And they are like, "No. You are funny. You should really try to do comedy." They called me The Kid, because these were all people that had worked in insurance for years. They were like, "Hey, kid, you should try doing stand-up." That's when I tried. And I had an epiphany. I realized that I had a gift. At that moment, being the spiritual person that I am, I realized that I needed to respect myself, my God, and my people to cultivate this gift. Because, you know, there is nothing worse in the world than to see guys like Michael Vic, with such promise and such future, throw it all away over something stupid. I didn't want to be that person, so I told myself that I would dedicate my time to being the best at this as humanly possible.
Do you think being exposed to different cultures helped you with your comedy?
Carlos Mencia: Hugely. I am able to see things from an inside and an outside point of view at all times. I grew up in East L.A. around Mexicans as a Honduran. So they treated me differently, until people like you came into my neighborhood. Until the white people showed up, then they were like, "Hey, Holmes, its all of us together." Then you guys all left, and it was the weirdest thing. They were like, "Okay, dude, you are the wetter wetback." How could I be a wetter wetback. And they would say, "Because you are from further away." That is so lame. I grew up like that. So, I was of Mexican culture and Mexican descent. My mom was Mexican. But I wasn't a Mexican. My mother came to this country, and she wanted to give me an American name so I would fit in. My birth name is Ned. Which sounds great if you are not living in East L.A. Where every year on the first day of role call, they were like, "Ned!" And I was like, "Oh, my god, teacher! I am going to get my face kicked in because of the way you said that." And the other guys would be like, "That better be short for Neduardo." I'm treated like an American, and there are times when I am not treated like an American. I have always been able to see things from a lot of points of views. It helped my comedy. I know Tito can be construed as a stereotype. Sure. But on the other hand, he is a guy in my opinion, who lives in Mexico, who is smart enough to get things done. He makes ends meet all the time. On top of that, this is a guy who learned English although he never went to school. This is a guy who might not be educated, but he is naturally smart. I am able to look at these things from a different point of view and see if they fit in for me. All of that stuff helped me to be one thing, and another thing at the same time. I'm an American, but I'm not. I'm a part of society, but I' not.
What did you think about the characters just jumping into marriage like they do?
Carlos Mencia: You don't do that without asking some questions first. You need to know how much they get paid, and what they do for a living. For me, this is all about ignorance, and not asking the right questions. That's what got them into trouble. Nothing else.
You're going on tour this fall? What does that entail?
Carlos Mencia: Well, the tour is different than this. Here's how it is. Comedy is pure, and dirty, and uncensored. It's like raw cocaine. And then the TV show is slightly formatted. It's on cable, so I get away with more. But the advertisers pay attention to it, and there are restrictions. And it's kind of big, still. But it's not as big as it was. Movies are authentic and real. And subtle, and honest, and human. These are all different forms of expression. One of them is painting on canvas, one of them is painting with watercolors, and one of them is oil painting. And they are all really different. I really look forward to being able to flex those different muscles. The really important thing for me in this movie was that I didn't play Carlos Mencia. I didn't do that. I didn't have to. I got to create a character. I got to act. I got to make other people help me with my acting, and that was unbelievably fundamental. But, I will always love stand-up. I look at it like this, movies are the beautiful blonde Playboy Playmate that I will always chase, and she might go on a date with me, and she might have sex with me. In the end, I knew she was going to end up with somebody else. Stand-up is my chubby ex-girlfriend who will never say no even if I call her at three o'clock in the morning. "I want you!" And she says, "Bring some ice cream." And I say, "I'm there!"
Did you save the hairpiece from the film?
Carlos Mencia: You know what? I tried to buy that hairpiece, and they were going to charge me three thousand dollars for it. That's crazy. I was like, damn!
The Heartbreak Kid opens this Friday, October 5th, 2007.
Dont't forget to also check out: Mind of Mencia