From “In Living Color” and “The Wayans Brothers” to “Scary Movie” and “White Chicks,” Shawn and Marlon Wayans have been inseparable as brothers.
But the two youngest Wayans brothers are hardly twins. Shawn has been doing stand-up comedy for more than 20 years. Marlon just started recently in preparation for a possible movie role as Richard Pryor.
Marlon will open for Shawn at the Uptown Comedy Corner July 19 to 21.
I spoke with both on the phone last week.
“We heard it’s a great room,” Shawn said. “I’ve been there a long time ago with Damon [probably in the old space in Buckhead.] We’ll show up where there’s a mic stand and a good, classy audience. That’s a perfect size room.”
Shawn noted that it’s tougher to work rooms and fail because of mobile media. “There was a time where people let art be art,” he said. “People now bring cameras into comedy clubs. You used to be able to go to little clubs and talk [crap.] Nowadays, you can’t do that. You’re always under a microscope. Everything you say can come back to haunt you. It’s hard to prep your material.”
This naturally led into a question about the recent travails of Tracy Morgan, who was taped insulting gays, then mentally challenged people.
‘I don’t want to get into that,” Shawn said. “It’s neither here nor there.”
Marlon said he’s still working out the kinks of stand-up comedy. “I’m still in my early phases,” he said. “Shawn’s at a point where he can express about a lot of things. I’m just learning to ride the bike. I’m just starting to pop wheelies now.” He said his learning curve is a bit faster since he has done plenty of sketch comedy and comedic acting over 20 years. “I know how to write a joke,” he said. “I know how to perform. There’s also a benefit of doing this later than when I was younger.”
Shawn isn’t shy about critiquing his younger brother’s work on stage – but constructively.
“He’s been criticizing me my whole life,” Marlon said. “For me, it’s always interpreting what he says is going on. I know he loves me. Sometimes, his timing is off. He hits me right as I’m getting off stage. I’m high off the crowd. I come off a killer set. Then he says, ‘That one joke was dumb.’ ”
“I don’t want you to get into bad habits,” Shawn said to Marlon. “I could choose to say nothing.”
“He wants me to the greatest,” Marlon said. “I want him to be the greatest. I remember when we were kids going to Boston and watching Damon perform. We used to write notes on napkins. We’d tell him what he did wrong. That’s what our family does.” He also noted that sharing is a hallmark among comedians.
Not that it’s infallable. People do steal material.
Interestingly, a former employee of the Wayans, Jared Edwards, recently sued the brothers for stealing his jokes for a book they wrote. They settled out of court earlier this month.
“That wasn’t trading jokes,” Shawn said. “That was taking someone off the street and trying to teach them a craft. He was not appreciative of the situation.”
“You work at McDonalds and learn how to make their french fries,” Marlon said. “That doesn’t mean it becomes your recipe.”
“We’ve been making french fries for 25 years,” Shawn added. “It’s a family recipe people will try to duplicate.”
Shawn & Marlon Wayans
Uptown Comedy Corner
July 19-21, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows
By Rodney Ho, email@example.com, AJCRadioTV blog