Why was Joe Rogan banned from The Comedy Store? Carlos Mencia controversy explained

Bruno Cooke October 19, 2020
Why was Joe Rogan Banned from The Comedy Store?
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Why was Joe Rogan banned from The Comedy Store between 2007 and 2013? What happened between him and Carlos Mencia? For anyone who’s just hearing about this, let’s get you up to date.

Comedian and MMA commentator Joe Rogan is known globally for his long form, unedited podcast conversations with high profile figures like Elon Musk, Mike Tyson and Lance Armstrong. But what caused Joe Rogan to be banned from Hollywood’s The Comedy Store?

To catch you up, let’s take a step back and look at the career of comedian Carlos Mencia.

What happened between Carlos Mencia and Joe Rogan?

Ned Arnel Mencia, better known as Carlos Mencia, is a Honduran-born American comedian and writer. His comedy touches on themes such as social class, criminal justice, race and culture. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdugSUFbzws&ab_channel=JoeRogan

His career began to take off when, in 1988, the then-owner of The Comedy Store encouraged Mencia to change his first name from “Ned” to “Carlos”. This was apparently in order to appeal to Mexican audiences in the Hollywood area.

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During the 1990s and early 2000s, Mencia’s comedy career blossomed, which included a very successful tour in 2001 with Freddy Soto and Pablo Francisco, aka “The Three Amigos”. 

However, unbeknownst to fans, many of his fellow comedians held Mencia in low esteem. By 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mencia, along with Jay Leno and Dane Cook, was one of the most disliked popular stand-ups by fellow comedians.

What went wrong for Carlos Mencia?

One of Mencia’s fiercest critics was fellow Comedy Store stand-up comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took aim at Mencia even before the ban-worthy incident took place one night in February 2007.

In a virulent blogpost, Rogan makes various allegations of plagiarism, aimed at Mencia. 

What were Rogan’s allegations against him?

In a different blog post cited here, Rogan told of how the situation reached its climax. After finishing a set at The Comedy Store in February 2007:

I introduce him saying that he’s a funny guy, and that he opens on the road for Carlos “Menstealia.” That’s the name we call him at the comedy store, and of course Carlos doesn’t like it one bit.

Carlos was apparently in the room when I said this, and the perfect combination of ego and timing made him decide that this was the night to put his foot down. As I got off stage and headed towards the back of the room, he grabbed the mike away from Kirk, and said that I was too much of a p**** to say that s*** to his face.

The allegation at the centre of the feud was that Carlos Mencia was guilty of poaching jokes from his fellow comedians. In a video posted on Rogan’s personal YouTube channel, the incident plays out in full. In support of Rogan’s claims, the video includes footage of other comedians – some of whose material Mencia allegedly stole.

Why was Joe Rogan banned from The Comedy Store?

In a 2018 interview, Canadian comedian Stephen Kramer Glickman provides Ari Mannis with some context. According to Glickman, at the time, Mencia “was the big star at the Store”. Being, at that time, a comedy heavyweight, Mencia’s influence was greater than that of his challenger, Rogan.

Glickman tells of how Mencia’s influence was sufficient to remove Joe Rogan from the Comedy Store. As a result, Rogan’s talent agent expelled him from the client roster of the Gersh Agency. At the time, GA also managed Mencia. Rogan moved over to the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club and didn’t return to The Comedy Store until 2013.

Why are people talking about it now?

During an interview with American stand-up comedian Bob Saget in July this year, Rogan revisited the subject. Discussing the feud, Rogan stated (as reported in Hollywood Reporter):

“I don’t have any hate for that dude […] And I hope he’s doing great, I really do.” He continued: “I hope he has [learned his lesson], and I hope people forgive him, too.”

The story is doing the rounds on social media, beginning earlier this year. The flurry has even led one Twitter commentator to encourage Mencia to do an interview with Rogan.

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Bruno is a postgraduate student studying global journalism, with research interests in the intersection of the media, storytelling, culture and politics. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Packs Light and Forge Press, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com. He is a Student Ambassador for Tortoise Media, a big fan of Freddie Mercury and a novelist – his debut novel, Reveries, is available on Amazon.