It's hard to believe that Marlon Wayans, the youngest member of the first family of comedy, has been making people laugh now for nearly 20 years. The 41-year old, best known for the Haunted House franchise, White Chicks and Requiem for a Dream (a rare departure into drama), is back on TV with Funniest Wins. As the creator, producer and host of the new comedy competition reality show (which will air Fridays on TBS — check your local listings), Wayans is on the hunt for the most hilarious comedian ever.
BET.com chatted with the comedy prodigy about his new show, the controversy surrounding his hosting duties at the MTV Africa Music Awards, his comedy tour with his brothers and the possibility of A Haunted House 3.
You’re the host of Funniest Wins, a reality competition comedy show and your brother Keenan Ivory Wayans is a judge on Last Comic Standing. Were you worried that audiences would think they were essentially the same program?
Funniest Wins is a very different show. Last Comic Standing is all about standup comedians and it’s a shiny floorshow. This one is grittier and has a different tone. TBS allows us to go places and say things that you can’t on NBC. We challenge you in every facet of comedy. It’s not just about standup, it’s about digital shorts, musical parody, we have an animation week, we do Vines, we do viral videos and we do character challenges. This is a variety reality show and that’s what makes it different.
How would you fare on Funniest Wins if you were coming up in the industry today?
You always have to be confident, so I’d say I would have won. I would have to. I have a desperate instinct in me where if I’ve got to be funny, I just have to be funny. There is no "I can’t be funny." If the pressure’s on, it’s on. And you’ve just got to do it.
Let’s talk about your stint hosting the MTV Africa Music Awards. There was a big controversy that you told ethnically offensive jokes. What’s your side of the story?
There was one article [about my hosting], it was their opinion and they’re entitled to that opinion. But then everybody else picked it up and said, “Oh, he offended all of Africa.” And basically the media will report what they want to report. But I know what I did. Meanwhile, if you look at my Twitter feed — because I retweet when people say kind things — they [my followers] were saying my hosting was the only reason why they were watching the show again. And that my hosting was the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. The people who were at the show were laughing hysterically.
So how do you think this miscommunication happened? What kind of jokes did you tell?
The jokes I did weren’t actually about Africans, they were about Americans. The jokes were about misconceptions about what Africa is. So you think Africa, you don’t think buildings, you think huts. You don’t think cars, you think lions. But one or two people didn’t like it, so that’s on them. Satire is something that's often overlooked and often times people don’t get the joke because they’re overly sensitive.The other thing is I’m going to be offensive sometimes. And I’m going to be very unapologetic about it because in comedy that’s just what you’ve got to be.
We spoke to your sister Kim Wayans recently and she was really excited about the comedy tour you’re currently on with all your brothers. Can you tell us more about it?
Me, Sean [Wayans], Damon [Wayans] and Keenan [Ivory Wayans] are doing the first ever Wayans brothers tour. We’re starting small; we’re gonna do some gigs. Then we're gonna do a film — a concert movie of the shows — and after that a nationwide tour. I’m just excited and happy that all four of us are going to do it. It’s hard to get any four brothers to do anything together. For real. It’s really hard. I always say in every group there’s always a Bobby Brown, and you’re looking at him.
After the success of A Haunted House and A Haunted House 2, do you think you will make it a trilogy?
I may do A Haunted House 3. But I want to do other movies before that. I want to do a couple of romantic comedies and maybe a buddy action film. I have to do that while I still have muscles that don’t have atrophy.
Get ready for the BET Experience, featuring Mary J. Blige, Maxwell, Jill Scott, A$AP Rocky, Rick Ross and many more. Click here for more details and info on how to purchase tickets.
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(Photo: Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET)