The video I posted earlier obviously had a reaction for those trying to prove Carlos Mencia‘s larcenous ways. I heard from Ari Shaffir, one of those who claim to be wronged by Carlos. While Ari agrees that the “Who will build the wall” joke “isn’t the best example of Carlos’ joke thievery”, he does set down a persuasive timeline for when it happened. Here’s what he said:
I opened for Carlos a few times over a 3 months period and did that joke (that I can clearly remember) at least 4 times. He saw me do it. I twice saw him in the room as I did the joke and I saw him laughing. Then maybe 9 months later, people all over town started telling me that Carlos was doing my material. So yes, it might be an easy joke. But once you see another comic do an easy joke, that doesn’t mean you can start doing it yourself. That’s still just stealing.
This clears up a few issues I had with the original video - the accusation depends on Ari opening for Carlos and Carlos being in the room at the time he performed. The fact that Ari can be specific to the point of remembering when Carlos laughed at the joke, a very telling detail for a comic, makes me inclined to believe what he says. However, I think if the video of Carlos performing it had came out in 2005, he would be had dead to rights. Now with so many others having told the joke independently, particularly with it being such a news event in 2006, it’s very easy to create doubt. There’s a lot of people who are convinced already - but an abundance of them I’d venture to say are Carlos haters already. The point is to convince those who are completely neutral. I don’t think it does. It creates the smoke that will lead people to look for fire. And judging from the large number of leads Ari provided me for material that may have been stolen, fire could be inevitable. Joke stealing is hard to prove, but still can be incredibly damaging. Carlos is right about one thing in the original video, it’s very easy to say someone steals shit. It’s the type of rumor that can destroy a young comedian’s career and haunt a successful one. I imagine I frustrate the hell out of people with my devil’s advocate ways, but I’d rather be more than fair than wrong. I might not be on the fence for long. The original video’s author, Redban, tells me he’s working on another video which will show Mencia up against multiple earlier comics. Part of that might be Mencia’s HBO HalfHour Comedy Hour, which is up on YouTube. That’s the video where George Lopez claimed to have found 13 minutes of stolen material from his own act. And it’s only a 28 minute video. If something’s been lifted, you wouldn’t have to throw a large rock to find it. Until then, I’m moving on to some positive stuff. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that if I dwell on this any more, I’m going to go crazy.