After a successful career as a comic and actor, Carlos Mencia took an “obligatory” three-year break from the business.
Sold-out comedy tours, four seasons hosting his Comedy Central show, “Mind of Mencia,” and movie roles in “The Heartbreak Kid” (in 2007 with Ben Stiller) and “Our Family Wedding” (in 2010 with Forest Whitaker and America Ferrara) took a toll.
“I worked as a comedian for 23 years, 51 weeks a year,” Mencia said during a telephone interview. “I was tired, and I went through several life changes that were necessary.”
After a well-deserved rest, Mencia is back on stage and back in form; he’ll perform at the Tampa Improv Friday through Sunday.
“Mind of Mencia” launched in 2005 and quickly became one of Comedy Central’s most-watched shows. Between seasons, the comic entertained military troops overseas. He visited Kuwait in 2008, and Turkey, Iraq, Qatar and Afghanistan in 2009, among others.
Soldiers make the best audiences, he said, because, “They live in a place where tomorrow they could die and they know it, but they also know that they cannot live thinking that any minute they could be gone.
“What’s interesting is that when they’re over there, on a mission, they are concentrated on that, but the moment they hear ‘Commander Mencia is here’ they give themselves 100 percent to the show,” he said.
“Over there I can say anything I want, and they don’t care,” he said. “It’s not like over here, where you can’t say certain things. There, they want to laugh at everything; it’s really beautiful.
“That’s part of the evolution that started my change; seeing there are no fat soldiers, the respect and love they show for their country. I learned so much that it changed me as a human being.”
When: 8 and 10:30 Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Tampa Improv, 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa
Tickets: $28; improvtampa.com