Marlon Wayans brings the pain to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

Listen to our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Marlon Wayans (Part 1)

You’ve seen his hilarious bits on “In Living Color,” “The Wayans Brothers” and “Scary Movie.”

On Jan. 22, Marlon Wayans hits Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.

“I started going stir crazy in my house,” Wayans told WTOP. “I was just sitting at home with all these jokes in my head and it was driving me crazy. I was like, ‘I gotta get out there and start making people laugh so I can feel like myself again.’ Hearing laughs made me heal. I lost my mom and I was just sad, so when I started hearing the laughs, I was like, ‘This is my purpose.'”

Wayans has endured a hellacious two years with the 2020 death of his mother, Elvira Alethia, as well as a relentless pandemic of Biblical proportions, according to his father, Howell Wayans.

“These past two years we’ve literally been watching hell,” Wayans said. “My dad’s a Jehovah’s Witness. These are the years he used to talk about: ‘One day there’s going to be all this destruction!’ I’m like, wow, I don’t know if he’s a visionary, but he’s been saying this is going to happen. … To find your smile through the worst times really gives you a permanent smile.”

Aside from the pandemic, Wayans mostly works his personal life into his standup routine.

“Whatever’s going on in my life,” Wayans said. “I don’t really do a lot of political humor. … It was fun when Trump was out there, but Biden’s kind of boring. I just talk about me. At this point in my life and career, I find that my best comedy comes from my pain, so that’s what I talk about. It’s funny how many people understand what you’re going through because they’re going through similar things.”

Born in 1972, Wayans first made us laugh in “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” (1988), directed by brother Keenen Ivory Wayans, who also joined brother Damon Wayans to create the hilarious sketch-comedy show “In Living Color” (1990-1994). Does he have a favorite sketch?

“Ahh, Damon, pick one, man — Homey the Clown, Anton, Blaine, Handi-Man, the Head Detective, Damon was just a monster on that show,” Wayans told WTOP in 2017. “Keenen, I loved Frenchie and Arsenio, those two hurt me! … The one that I played that I liked the most was Luther, the ugly man. He was Wanda’s date and he was actually uglier than him. I loved that scene.”

He next joined brother Shawn Wayans for The WB sitcom “The Wayans Bros.” (1995-1999).

“When I was doing ‘Wayans Brothers,’ it was all about the jokes,” Wayans said. “Now, it’s ‘what’s the story,’ then I’m confident the jokes will come once we have a good story. I think ‘Wayans Brothers’ was a fun show and I loved it … but I think [now I offer] a more mature take — that was a very politically-correct answer so I don’t get punched in the chest by my older brother.”

While filming “Wayans Brothers” for television, they also made movies, from the urban spoof “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood” (1996) to the tear-jerking basketball movie “The 6th Man” (1997) where a hipster is aided by his brother’s ghost.

“It’s funny because my brother turned the movie down,” Wayans said. “You never know what’s going to be a classic. People love that movie, especially if you have a brother. Everybody with a brother is like, ‘Antoine and Kenny! A & K all the way!’ … That’s like if you’ve got a mom, don’t watch the movie ‘Mom.’ It’s a sad movie! If you like crack, don’t watch ‘Requiem!'”

He is, of course, referring to his drug addict role in the harrowing “Requiem for a Dream” (2000).

“You’ve gotta thank Darren Aronofsky,” Wayans said. “Believe me, I don’t even take aspirin anymore. …To me, comedy’s the greatest drug. I need a drink to come down from the high.”

The film is a masterpiece, co-starring Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Ellen Burstyn.

“They need to make that a drug PSA,” Wayans told WTOP in 2017. “That movie is so horrific, it’ll make you put weed down like, ‘I need to get off this.’ I just think [Aronofsky] is a brilliant director, and I was really lucky to be a part of it. I’m glad that my one dramatic departure I did with him.”

That same year, Wayans satirized “Scream” with the horror spoof “Scary Movie” (2000)

“We saw ‘Scream,’ ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer,’ there was a bunch of slasher movies that came out,” Wayans told WTOP in 2017. “They all started to feel like the same movie with the same characters. We just thought that, ‘Yo, this could be fun.’ I’m glad we did. It was a classic.”

He and brother Shawn donned whiteface and wigs to star in the comedy “White Chicks” (2004).

“That one we just hit the note,” Wayans said. “We’re just blessed. The way we tell jokes, we do it to try to make people laugh. … When you make fun of a sect of people, those people laugh the loudest. You know who loved white chicks the most? White chicks.”

In the streaming era, Wayans starred in the Netflix original film “Naked” (2017).

“He wakes up the next day butt naked in an elevator and he has no idea how he got there,” Wayans told WTOP in 2017. “He’s late for his wedding, and when he gets to his wedding, if he doesn’t have the right suit, the right vows and the right ring, he starts back over in the elevator and repeats the same hour over and over again until he gives his woman the proper wedding.”

You can also find his NBC sitcom “Marlon” (2017-2018) on Netflix.

“It’s basically my life, an inappropriate divorced father trying to keep his family together amid divorce,” Wayans told WTOP in 2017. “Just because your family is broken up, doesn’t mean it’s over. It’s an aspirational show with a different type of TV dad and with different type of TV family.”

Most recently, he performed his first-ever stand-up comedy special “Woke-ish” on Netflix in 2018, followed by his second stand-up special “You Know What It Is” currently on HBO Max.

“It’s fun, man,” Wayans said. “When you love something, you want to do it at its highest level. I’m really enjoying being able to sit up there in the pocket like a quarterback being rushed by a blitz and just finding them laughs and giving them to the open receivers, which is the audience.”

What does he make of the new “Scream” reboot in theaters now?

“I hope it taps into a new audience and then, guess what? ‘Scary Movie 6.'”

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Marlon Wayans (Part 2)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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