The “Mind of Ned Holness” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. It’s hard to believe but Carlos Mencia, who has tackled race, social injustice, and cultural maladies during his 20-plus-year career as a stand-up comedian, was once known as “Ned Holness.” If you’re named “Ned Holness” you can’t deliver the following joke: “When a black person has no electricity, no water, they call it the ghetto. When white people have no electricity and no water, they call it camping.”
“Holness” is Mencia’s father’s name. When Mencia was born, his father and mother were in a major squabble. This fight was so bad that Mencia’s mother refused to give her son his father’s last name. That’s why the comic’s birth certificate lists his appellation as “Ned Arnel Mencia.” Mencia went by Holness until he turned 18. By the way, Mencia is the 17th of 18th children.
Mencia grew up with his aunt and uncle in East L.A. He managed to do well in school and stay out of gangs. He left California State University early to pursue a career in comedy. It was a good decision as he excelled at open mic nights hosted by Los Angeles area comedy clubs. His big break came in the early 1990s when he appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show and hosted Loco Slam on HBO. Mencia continued doing stand-up on television and in comedy clubs throughout the second half of the 1990s and early 2000s.
In 2005, Mencia received his own half-hour show on Comedy Central. His program, Mind of Mencia, was modeled after Chappelle’s Show and ran for four seasons (2005 to 2008). The program featured guest appearances from a number of celebrities including Frank Caliendo, Tracy Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Robin Williams. In total, 55 episodes were made.
In 2010, Mencia was lumped together with fellow comedians Dane Cook and Jay Leno. While that sounds like an illustrious trio, it was actually a list made by the Wall Street Journal of the three most hated stand-up comedians amongst their colleagues. Mencia has been publicly accused of plagiarism by Joe Rogan and George Lopez. In the latter’s case, the joke that Mencia reportedly stole was in fact stolen by Lopez. This claim is backed up by the joke’s author who said he gave Mencia permission to use it but not Lopez. Of course, if you have Carlos Mencia tickets, all the accusations of plagiarism quickly fade away. His energetic live act is one of the funniest in the business.