After years of fan requests, the comedy family has finally taken their show on the road as a unit. For the first time, these four Wayans brothers are on a U.S. stand-up tour that highlights their individual brands of humor.
The stars of the television shows In Living Color, My Wife and Kids, and The Wayans Bros. and films such as I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Hollywood Shuffle, Scary Movie, and White Chicks will be on the same bill Saturday night at the Tower Theater.
Marlon will kick off the evening in signature high-octane fashion followed by Shawn, Damon, and Keenen, currently one of three celebrity judges on NBC's Last Comic Standing.
It was Keenen's role in 1987 as Donald, a.k.a. Jheri Curl, in Robert Townsend's hilariously brilliant Hollywood Shuffle that set it off for the entire crew. The rest of the Wayans clan has since walked through the door Keenen kicked in.
"We all followed our big brother Keenen into this, and he did right by us," said Marlon, 42, who spent three semesters at Howard University in Washington in the early '90s before moving to Los Angeles to pursue his comedy dreams. "Thank God he went this way, because if he was a drug dealer, then we all would have been a family of drug dealers."
Damon, now a grandfather, has made a name for himself by way of his political observations as well as his hilariously scathing musings on his own family. His set during the tour sticks to that script.
"I realized a while ago that my stand-up may have affected my kids," Damon says. " . . . They all have great comedic wit, so I tell them, 'Go write your own act about me to get back if you want.' " (His eldest son, Damon Wayans Jr., stars in the comedy film Let's Be Cops, which hits theaters Aug. 13.)
The brothers have always backed one another up during various high-profile projects, and the current "Four Wayans, One Tour" is no different. Damon says that, while he is having a blast being on the road with his brothers, the wear and tear of travel and performing affects Keenen and himself more than their younger siblings. Marlon explained how they make it work.
"It's epic and fun hanging out with my brothers because we always have a good time together. We laugh a lot and we inspire each other," said Marlon. He credits "our mother's wit and our dad's silliness and work ethic" for the family's success. "If we're in an interview, I can tell when Damon is tired or Keenen is sleepy, and I'll turn up a little bit, or if I'm not feeling good, they turn it on for me. I love, love, love my brothers because they've taught me everything. I'm not just performing for the audience out there but to make my brothers proud, to make my heroes laugh."
Away from the stage, Damon is going full steam ahead into the tech world. He prides himself on being the developer of Flick DAT and Diddeo, phone apps available for iOS and Android devices. Flick DAT allows users to create visual business cards using 30-second introductory videos, and Diddeo allows users to create videos for their favorite songs.
Long before Damon's turn to tech, his routines got under the skin of a few political and celebrity figures. "Magic Johnson still ain't over the fact that I talked about him in one of my specials," said Damon. "When I see him, he'll ask, 'How's the family?' but I can tell he's still a little salty. But that's the price you pay as a public person. People talk about me, too, and I just have to take it in and just have my own rebuttal."
Marlon, whose act has a few side-splitting celebrity digs as well, piggybacked on that sentiment.
"My job is to be the clown and talk about things that people don't want to talk about," Marlon said. "So I don't have many celebrity friends because I have to talk about them in my act."
The Wayans brothers have come a long way since their days of living three to a room in a Manhattan housing project. Great humor is often born out of poverty, as was this family's rise to prominence.
"We had triple-decker bunks, and the bottom one was like a drawer. I had to sleep in the drawer, and my brothers would push me in at night like an oven," said Damon. "We always played practical jokes on each other like that, because when you're that close to each other all the time, it's like living in a prison, so we had to make it fun."
Marlon adds, "It was like a modern-day slave ship with bunk beds and Negroes everywhere, but we made it."
Mister Mann Frisby's 10th-grade wardrobe of outlandish rayon shirts and dress slacks was mostly inspired by Keenen Ivory Wayans.