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Sometimes, being a member of a great family can be overwhelming. Just ask Rebbie Jackson. Having star brothers and sisters can put a lot of pressure on a young person and that pressure can either bring you down or turn you into a diamond. That pressure turned Marlon Wayans into a diamond.
The youngest of the Wayans clan, Marlon learned at the feet of comedy legends. While he was still in single digits, he was hanging out in nightclubs listening to his brother Damon do comedy routines. Eventually, Marlon found his way into the entertainment industry, making a name for himself as a comedian and an actor.
After years of playing roles that ranged from the funny underling to Tupac in “Above the Rim,” to his turn as a drug addict in “Requiem of a Dream,” he has grown leaps and bounds in his career. Marlon took a big leap this year when “A Haunted House” a film that he co-wrote and produced hits theaters. Also starring Essence Atkins, Cedric The Entertainer and more, the movie isn’t your typical Wayans comedy.
Marlon held an exclusive viewing for his new film this past week in Atlanta. After the viewing he held a roundtable Q&A. Hiphopenquirer.com got the chance to quiz Marlon on his new movie, his legendary family, Oscar hopes, hip-hop’s newest sensation, Trinidad James and how Youtube killed the comedy sketch.
Hiphopenquirer.com: Speak to us briefly about the movie.
Marlon Wayans: The movie is a Paranormal Activity if it happened to Black people. Classic story, girl moves into boyfriend’s house and she brings some baggage with her in the form of a demon. The ghost winds up coming in between the 2 of them so they have to try to get rid of them. A whole lot of funny shit happens in the process. I don’t need to always do parodies. This is a movie, with parody elements.
Hiphopenquirer.com: You’ve played a lot of comedic roles over your career. You spoke about possibly playing Richard Pryor in a film in the near future. That’s a role that could bring you Oscar consideration. Is that something that you aim for?
Marlon Wayans: My Oscar is making you laugh. If you laugh, I’m thanking God like I won an Oscar. Statues are all objective. When they give you statues that just means that you did what they deem to be good work. If people laugh, that’s my Oscar. I don’t make beautiful movies. I don’t make “Lincoln.” I don’t do those types of movies. I hit a different nerve. I don’t think it’s always a friendly thing…..they put comedies and musicals in the same category in the Golden Globes. They don’t take comedy seriously. Comedy is an art. If you can make people across the country laugh all at one time, that’s great. Maybe I’ll do another “Requiem.” It would be great to do Richard Pryor, and then maybe I can get an Oscar for playing a comedian and an actor, but I don’t do it for that. I don’t do any role thinking, “I’m going to win an Oscar.”
Hiphopenquirer.com: Do you feel like you could possibly get pigeon holed into doing just comedy?
Marlon Wayans: That’s fine. I love comedy the most. Pigeon hole me where I want to be, that’s a great place to be. I know I can do everything. I don’t go, “I hope they like me.” I go, “this is my interpretation of the material, and I hope you enjoy it.” It’s like Miles Davis on his trumpet, this is my interpretation. I don’t want people to totally dictate to me what they want. It’s a lot more complicated. Drama is cool, but drama is easy. I can slam my dick in the door and I’ll cry. But making people laugh, that’s a hard thing.
Hiphopenquirer.com: What has growing up in the Wayans family taught you?
Marlon Wayans: My brothers taught me a lot. I used to go on the road with Damon, when I was 9 years old. Me and Shawn were just kids and we would go and watch him and we’d be sitting there with napkins like, “Ay Damon, you should do this with that joke”. We’d have notes for him and they were funny. He taught us the grinding out you have to do and what it is to be an artist as far as performing. Keenan taught us how to structure a story and how to write and how to look at a movie. Most of our lessons have been through failure. You want to learn something, fail at. You want to learn about having a successful movie, have a bomb and then have to recreate. Creating is easy, recreating is hard. That’s what the legends do. That’s what Michael Jackson did when he did Off The Wall, then Thriller, then Bad. That’s what the greats do. Look at Jay-Z. He drops dope albums for years and can still do it. People want to talk about Jay and I’m like, “You have 2 albums. Talk to me when people are talking about 20 years from now.”
Hiphopenquirer.com: Will we see you doing something like “Living Color” again?
Marlon Wayans: Another “Living Color” would be great, but we don’t have to do that. The Wayans brand can make something. But, there are things that I see on an everyday basis that make me say, “Oh my God”. I’ll see commercials that I want to re-do. I see the Kardashians on TV like, “nobodies getting this”. I say I don’t want to do parodies again, and then I’ll see something that will make me say, “Oh my God”.
Hiphopenquirer.com: What about another music parody?
Marlon Wayans: I would love to do it.
Hiphopenquirer.com: You need to do one on Trinidad James.
Marlon Wayans: Trinidad James. Who is that?
Hiphopenquirer.com: Just go to YouTube and check him out. If anybody can do a parody of him, it’s you.
Marlon Wayans: (he turns to his assistant and tells her, to write down the name Trinidad James, “All Gold Anything.” He continues) I feel like sometimes, with parodies, YouTube killed it. They do the bad versions. I heard Rick Ross, “These niggas won’t hold me back.” And I was in my car and the first thing that came to my mind was “these niggas won’t call me fat.” I started writing and I had this really hilarious thing I was going to do and my buddy called me and told me to go to YouTube and there were 4 really bad versions of what I was going to do. I was like, scrap it. YouTube is the best, worst thing that ever happened, because you got these guys that got an idea. An idea doesn’t make for a great sketch. A lot of work goes into a great sketch. So much work, so much science. I feel like, rather than rush to put something on YouTube, take your time and develop under the radar without YouTube. It’s like Picasso doing a sketch and saying, “this is great, let’s put it up on the wall.” No, you take time and develop it. Take your time and develop as artist and then say, “This is what I have to offer”.
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