Marlon Wayans on Comedy: "I Don't Mind Wearing a Dress"

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You gained a lot of critical acclaim for your role in Requiem for a Dream. Do you plan on doing any dramatic roles or indie films?

Absolutely. At my core, I'm an actor. Standup is something I just picked up in the last two years. Actually, acting brought me to standup. Because I was supposed to play Richard Pryor in a Richard Pryor movie. So, I don't know what's going on with the movie right now. I just know that I love standup, and I started out wanting to play a great, and now I want to be a great. That movie is a deep, dark drama. In the meanwhile, I'll prepare and, for me, I just want to be versatile and do a little bit of everything. I'm doing a role in the Paul Feig movie right now (The Heat). It's not a completely hilarious role.

Do you remember Jennifer Lopez from your In Living Color days?

Oh, yeah. How could you forget? I was 19 years old, and I would look down. I would stand in the back when they were saying goodnight and you can look at me looking dead at her ass, going, Wow! That looks great! I felt like Magellan, like, "The world is round! The world is round!" But nobody believed me. I was like, look at how thick her ass is, everybody was like, ahhh, nah. People thought big asses were hot. I was like, that is incredible. Then Puffy was Columbus, cause he actually discovered it. I was like, hey, I told you the world was round.

Who was the biggest ham out of all ten of your siblings? You're all so talented. It must have been pretty noisy at home.

I think we all wanted it. That's what's interesting. I think we're all pretty desperate. The most desperate would probably be me and Kim. We'd probably set ourselves on fire for the joke.

Is there anything you can't joke about?

I don't think there's any topic that's taboo. Comedians struggle to do one thing. To tell the joke that makes the whole world laugh. Some people may get offended, but over time, you manicure and you work a joke for awhile. You massage it. You figure out how to tell that same joke but at an angle that everybody can appreciate it and enjoy, and laugh at it.

Nowadays, comedians get in trouble with people YouTubing their act or YouTubing them early. It's like look, that's the first thought. And so over time, working with different audiences around the country, you will learn to tell that joke in a way that makes everybody laugh. Until a comedian films a special, or puts it out there and goes, hey, I'm ready for you to see this, I don't think you should judge his material.

With all of those siblings, do you have have a built in audience at home?

Yes, and no. With my family, it's a tough crowd. Like with Damon, he can perform in front of a hall, and we damn near booed him like it was the Apollo. He was, man, like, you made me want to quit. We killed his self esteem!

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Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.
Contact: Liz Tracy