Carlos Mencia Remembers When George Lopez Fought Him Over Allegedly Stolen Jokes
Why do so many people remember the time in 2007 when Joe Rogan confronted Carlos Mencia onstage at the Comedy Store about stealing jokes? Probably because Rogan was smart enough to grab video. (That guy always knew how to build an audience.)
But Rogan wasn’t just mad about his own gags being pilfered. While Mencia was protesting his innocence, Rogan threw this bomb at him: “George Lopez didn’t grab you by your fucking neck and slam you up against the Laugh Factory wall for ripping off his shit in your HBO special?”
“Yes, he did,” admitted Lopez.
But just because Mencia confirmed that confrontation with Lopez doesn’t mean he’s owning up to joke theft, then or now. In a new interview with VladTV, Mencia tells his side of the Lopez story. Let’s start with one of the jokes in question, a pretty simple one that goes something like this: “When I was a kid, we didn’t have a remote control. Our parents would hit us on the head and tell us to change the channel.”
Mencia insists he didn’t steal the bit from Lopez and offers a two-pronged defense. First, he claims that he told his version of the joke several years before Lopez performed his. Both performances exist on video. “If you watch those two pieces, (Lopez) tells the joke literally in 2001 or 2002. You could tell how old he is,” says Mencia. “The bit that I did, I did it in 1993. Eight years earlier.”
As proof, Mencia offers some video jargon that won’t mean much to the average comedy nerd. His joke was taped in “480 interlaced” format, he says, suggesting that the video’s fuzzy quality and square aspect ratio confirm it was taped in the ‘90s. “I want to yell out, ‘Look I'm like 19! He's forty!”
If we accept this timeline as reality, does that mean Lopez actually stole the joke from Mencia? The comic isn’t going there. “That is something that I should do but I won’t do,” he says.
And here comes the second part of Mencia’s defense: “We live in the same world. We're looking at the same things,” he argues. “You know how many people who grew up with parents who smacked them in the head will say ‘When I was a kid, I was the remote control’? Because how many kids were told ‘Go and change the television’?”
Mencia implies that the answer is “There’s a lot of us.”
What if Mencia wanted to tell a joke about being a pre-cable kid holding the TV antenna for better reception -- or that his mom and dad wrapped the antenna in foil for the same reason? Another comic from a similar background might come up with a similar joke. “But what you didn't write was the reality of actually living it,” he contends. “You're assuming that you're the only fucking person that ever dealt with (holding the antenna)? You know how many times I literally had to stand there while my parents watched some goddamn TV show because if I held it, we could get channel 52?”
The whole reason people laugh at these kinds of jokes is that they had a similar experience, Mencia says, and that’s why no comedians can claim ownership of those moments. “To me, that's a bit arrogant to believe that you're the creator of all this stuff.”