Everyone knows 40-year-old Marlon Wayans as the wackiest member of the Wayans clan of comedy titans. The multi-faceted brother of Keenan, Shawn and sister Kim has made his name as a comedian, dramatic actor and writer in over 30 film and TV projects and series. But now (at last) Marlon has struck out on his own with his first solo venture, A Haunted House, starring Essence Atkins and Cedric the Entertainer; he also co-wrote and produced.
The genuinely hysterical satire on the whole Paranormal Activity/exorcism “found footage” horror films—long overdue—is no-holds barred, very irreverent and a decidedly non-PC take on the entire genre.
Marlon recently spoke about his new film, why he thinks God made it all possible, how he feels about doing a solo project without his family and why, after 20 years in the game, he still considers himself a rookie.
EBONY: At the screening for A Haunted House, everyone is the theater was rolling in the aisles. Is that the great feeling in the world? To hear a theater full of people laughing at what you’re created on the screen?
Marlon Wayans: Believe it or not, it’s better than an orgasm. (laughs) It’s an eargasm. It’s crazy. It really is. Never mind me, it’s better than her orgasm. (laughs) People don’t understand how much time and work it takes to make somebody laugh, and how hard it is to write a script, to put together the story, the characters. When everyone laughs simultaneously, there’s no greater feeling.
EBONY: And you did this without a net, on your own without anybody else from the Wayans clan.
MW: I’ve been saying, “this is no training wheels.” I [always] had Keenan on the right and Shawn on the left. I’ve had training wheels for 40 year,s and now they took the training wheels off and I just have to go for it. The great thing is that I’m fine, I’m good. They taught me well. We all learned and grew together.
I’m not saying that we’re not going to work together anymore. But House is like my Janet Jackson Control album. If it bombs, it’s going to be Dream Street. (laughs) They taught me so much that I’m proud I’m carrying on the tradition. But I’m not branching out because I’m always going to be a member of that tree. I’m just trying to spout some new leaves, that’s all.
EBONY: Well, that’s the point, that comedy is hard work. It’s a craft that you have to work at all the time.
MW: My brothers taught me well, but I’ve been studying comedy all my life, from silent films to cartoons to Jerry Lewis to Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to Art Carney and Jackie Gleason to Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz. I have been a fan and a student of comedy since I can remember.
The more hours you put in, the better you’re going to get. You’ve got to log in 10,000 hours before you get good at anything. I’ve put in a lot of hours and I’m going to put in more. I don’t think of myself as a comedian, but as an artist, a scientist and chemist who just happens to be funny. I started doing stand-up to add another level to my game. I feel that I’m a young rookie with a veteran’s skill.
EBONY: So you still consider yourself a rookie after all these years?
MW: I’ve been doing this for a long time and I understand it. Comedy is very hard, but you have to learn the art and science of it. But yeah, I think I’m just beginning. I’m a rookie veteran. Because this is not my omega, this is my alpha. Think about it. I’ve been in the game 20 years and this is the first time I’ve done my own movie. I’m growing up. It’s like Michael Jackson being part of the Jackson 5 when he’s a child, then he does Off the Wall, and now he’s a man. I’ve been in this for 20 years, and only doing stand-up for two and half years. And even though I’ve been getting standing ovations, it doesn’t mean that I’m good yet. I haven’t logged in enough hours on that stage to be good. So this is a whole new journey for me. There’s something very special waiting for me 10 years from now when I log my hours. It’s exciting.