The hottest property in comedy last year was Dave Chappelle. Then he abruptly walked away from his hit Comedy Central series, Chappelle's Show, and Carlos Mencia stepped up.

Mind of Mencia - a half-hour block of stand-up, skits, and man-on-the-street interviews - took over Chappelle's time slot, pulling strong ratings. Now Mencia's heir to the Chappelle title of hottest comedic property. But from November 17 to 19, Mencia will take his heat into the Nevada desert, where he'll appear at the Comedy Festival, a first-of-its-kind, three-day event in Las Vegas. The big names will all be there: Jon Stewart, Larry David, Chris Rock. Jerry Seinfeld will be honored. And Dave Chappelle will close the show.

Maybe. If not, Carlos Mencia can always step up. Again. We caught up with Mencia as he was prepping material for Vegas and for a nationwide tour.

No Apologies: "Ever since Mind of Mencia came on, I don't have to say things before a joke like, 'Look, I'm not trying to be mean to anyone.' The audiences already know that. It's like I'm among family now. They shout out, 'We know you, dude!' It's awesome."

The Joke Was on Him: 'I grew up in East LA, and I had a really thick accent. When I would get emotional, I would start screaming and 'talkeen like deees.' My friends still make fun of me for it."

Vegas, Also Awesome: "Las Vegas is truly America. You have every segment of society from every corner of the country. So, with one joke, you'll know how you're going to do all over the country. The best comedy crowds are in Vegas."

Emeril Should Go: "What's beautiful about The Comedy Festival is that it's like a cooking festival where every type of food is available. You don't have to come see me. If I'm not to your palate, then Jerry Seinfeld is also there."

Everybody Hates Ned Flanders, but Ned Mencia? "My birth name is Ned. When I started doing comedy, Comedy Store legend Mitzi Shore [mother of Pauly] told me, 'Your name can't be Ned. Do you know how Mexican you look onstage?' And I was like, 'Mitzi, I'm not Mexican. My mom's Mexican. I grew up in East LA, but I was born in Honduras.' And Mitzi said, 'It doesn't matter. You can't be a Ned.' I told her I had an uncle named Carlos, and she said, 'That's it: Carlos Mencia.' That's literally how fast my name changed."