GIGGLE CITY: Wayans Brothers keep it personal
For all the complaining that stand-up comics do about being stand-up comics, it can be a road to the big-time. Just ask the Wayans Brothers – this amazing show-biz family from Brooklyn that used comedy to escape poverty. Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, White Chicks and the TV series In Living Color are just some of the many projects that starred at least two or more of the 10 Wayans siblings. Shawn and Marlon are two of the most well-known – and stand-up comedy must not be so bad after all because, like Seinfeld, they keep coming back to it.
Shawn and Marlon perform – in tandem, not together – at the Comic Strip this weekend. All the shows are sold out. Here’s what Shawn, 41, the second youngest of the family, had to say about comedy in a recent phone interview:
Q: Have you ever done a comedy duo on stage with any of your brothers?
A: Marlon and I hosted the MTV Awards. But I don’t like doing stand-up together live. Stand up is a more personal art form.
Q: If you could be any celebrity, who would be and why?
A: Oprah Winfrey, because she’s richer than me.
Q: Do you think you could play Oprah in a movie?
Q: What’s your best heckler story?
A: I don’t really remember, but I shut them up. I say something that they’re not going to like and I shut them up. Whatever it’s going to take. Or I’m going to do my whole set on YOU.
Q: Due to your fame, do people even dare to heckle?
A: There’s always an idiot. Moreso right after Charlie Sheen went out there and got heckled by the audience and then people thought that anybody who came from the movies was OK to do that to – and that’s just not true.
Q: Do you have an old bit you were sad to let go?
A: Nothing that I miss.
Q: How about one you were happy to let go?
A: I used to do way back in the day: I hate living in New York because black men can’t catch cabs. You need a white girl in order to get a cab in New York. A lot of brothers date white women just so they can catch a cab.
A: I prefer to pull from within my own personal life rather than talk about what’s happening exactly at this moment. There’ll be pieces of that but I don’t like to do it that much.
Q: Do you have a new bit that the audience really likes?
A: I have a music bit that’s going over well.
Q: Any mention of Whitney Houston?
A: No, I’m very sad about Whitney Houston.
Q: Do you have a line that you won’t cross?
A: Well, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t talk about nobody that just passed away like that. There’s certain places I won’t go – but in time, with comedy, time heals all wounds and eventually one day they’ll all be ripe.
Q: You know what Gilbert Gottfried said about the old saying: tragedy plus time equals comedy? He said, “Why wait?”
A: VOICE OF GILBERT GOTTFRIED: And that’s how you get fired from the Aflac commercials! … That’s what happens when you don’t wait.
Q: What’s the difference between kids today and when you were a kid?
A: These kids today are lazier. We used to have to work to get stuff. These kids can just steal the stuff they want off the Internet.
Q: Do you think you have to be a pessimist to be a good comedian?
A: If you want to be a funny one, I think so. I don’t know many positive comedians who are funny.
Q: How do you explain the fact that so many of you Wayans Brothers went into show business?
A: It’s the only place that would hire us … I’m not sure why. A lot of it had to do with our upbringing, growing up poor in New York City and wanting to get the hell out of there. We used to have to be creative because we didn’t have a lot of the stuff other kids had – so we used humour.