After Wayans was written out of the sequel to the 2009 "G.I. Joe" live-action adaptation, he started watching found-footage movies like "Paranormal Activity," a series that features few people of color. "What if this happened to a black couple?" Wayans thought.
From that idea came "A Haunted House." Malcolm (Wayans) and Keisha (Essence Atkins) move into a new house where Keisha is possessed by an evil demon. Malcolm turns to a priest, a psychic and other supernatural mediums so he can, of course, keep his sex life going strong.
"This is a horror comedy with parody moments, rather than just straight parody. With parody, you're referencing and sending up a particular genre, and mostly your material is going to be taken out of that genre," Wayans said. "If you never saw one of these movies, a found-footage movie, you'll still get it and understand it and that you can laugh with it."
Wayans discovered that making a found-footage comedy was harder than it looks. A lot of film comedy relies heavily on editing. Humor is exaggerated by reaction shots from other actors, but in found-footage movies, the camera can't move and scenes can't be edited together to accommodate what normal comedies can do, because it would ruin the movie's "reality" experience.
"There was a big learning curve," Wayans said about "A Haunted House." "I learned more on this movie than any movie to date."
Wayans created material in tandem with his brother Shawn after they teamed up following the end of the Wayans-ruled sketch show "In Living Color." Together, they created "The Wayans Bros.," a sitcom that aired on the WB for five seasons. Then they hit the big screen with the surprise smash "Scary Movie," the first in a franchise, the fifth edition of which is due out this spring. (The Wayanses bowed out after the third outing.)
Through these productions, the Wayans clan has created its own brand of comedy: "Outrageous, edgy yet fun. I wouldn't say thought-provoking, but I would say hilarious," Wayans said, describing his family's humor.
But with "A Haunted House," Wayans has no brothers to lean on. This is his first movie without family involvement, and he's acting as writer, producer and star.
"I didn't have my training wheels with me, my brother Keenan on the right and my brother Shawn on the left," Wayans said. "It was just me left to my own demise."
Despite the heavier workload, Wayans isn't interested in directing just yet-he wants to try too many different things. "Maybe when I'm 50, 55," Wayans said.
Wayans is producing a show for BET called "Second Generation Wayans," which he referred to as his family's version of "Entourage," premiering on January 15. His next big-screen appearance is opposite Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in "The Heat," directed by "Bridesmaids' " Paul Feig, in which he plays Bullock's love interest.
Despite the film and TV schedule, Wayans and his brother Shawn continue to do stand-up together to keep their comedic muscles strong. They'll be at the Borgata on Feb. 9.
"Gotta stay in the gym, stay funny, stay sharp," Wayans said. "I just love working."
The Wayans Brothers, Music Box at the Borgata, One Borgata Way, Atlantic City, 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, $35-$40, 609-317-1000, theborgata.com.
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