About as low-tech as comedy gets, the mildly amusing premiere of this salsa-flavored skein features Carlos Mencia doing standup, riffing on headlines, spoofing commercials and even schlepping down to San Diego for a clever report on those silhouetted “Watch out for fleeing families” signs. Given the amount of his material that gets chewed up, it’s questionable how many encores Mencia’s act has left in the tank, but for a week at least, it’s not a bad way to spend a half-hour.
Referring to himself as Comedy Central’s “resident beaner,” Mencia opens with an extended standup bit on a minimalist set before a wildly appreciative aud, riffing on the suspicion toward Muslims and promising he’ll “make fun of anybody.”
That he will, and it’s mostly energetic if not particularly groundbreaking stuff, punctuated by war-on-terrorism-themed commercials (the best being a Verizon takeoff) and a funny bit where Peter Boyle deadpans his way through reading a Mencia “fan letter.”
As with most racially tinged comedy, however, there’s some question as to how many times Mencia can strike the same notes in a TV format — which, unlike standup, requires a steady flow of fresh gags. The first episode, for example, pretty much exhausts the “Muslims as the new blacks and Hispanics” motif, which probably won’t prevent him from returning to that shallow well.
The most inspired moment also treads similar terrain, as Mencia prods a California Dept. of Transportation flack to admit that the aforementioned signs refer to illegals crossing the border.
Mencia proves a genial presence, which provides a bit of a cushion through the bumpy spots, and the series conveys some of the irreverence that has made “Chappelle’s Show” a hit by the cabler’s short-attention-span standards.
In most respects, then, so far, so good, with the disclaimer that as constructed, there’s a lingering sense that “Mind of Mencia” will be tapped out of ideas by episode tres.