Damon Wayans here for another after-dark rumpus
|Hear Damon Wayans recall a night in Waikiki and talk about his year on 'Saturday Night Live'|
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Derek Paiva
Damon Wayans returns to Honolulu to show off his stand-up chops at the Waikiki Shell on Saturday.
The comedian, film and television star — and frequent Hawai'i visitor — gave us a call earlier this week for Five Questions on his new sketch comedy show "The Underground" (debuting on Showtime in September), being a suddenly single fortysomething male, his famous family, and how to get beat up in Waikiki.
You put together virtually every aspect of "The Underground." Did it remind you of what your brother Keenan (Ivory Wayans) went through with "In Living Color"?
"Yeah, in hindsight. I didn't understand why he was so frustrated (back then), because he wasn't in sketches. (Keenan was creator, host, a writer and a cast member of 'In Living Color.') I was very naive. Back in 1990, I was a baby. ... I was a comedian who just wanted to be funny. And my brother said, 'Here's a place to be funny.' I came to work and wrote and just did my thing.
"Now I have to sit there and tell people why stuff is not funny and why we're not gonna do it, kill sketches and ... come up with a new one (or) fix this one. All of that stuff is tedious and boring. ... I'm in a lot of sketches. And I understand why Dave Chappelle went to Africa."
Part of the reason Dave chucked "Chappelle's Show" was also the intensity of the media and public spotlight focused on him because the show was such a huge hit. You went through the same kind of scrutiny when you became the breakout star of "In Living Color." Is that also why you sympathize with him?
"Yeah. But the difference is I have family. I have brothers. I have people who I love and respect in the same business as me. They always say, 'Hey, dude, it's not that serious.' I don't think (Chappelle) has those kind of people around him to talk him down off the building. I have the same self-destruct button in me. But I've got a lot of support around me. (Still) I do understand (that) you just wanna run sometimes.
"People's agendas are not your agenda. They try to pretend that they care about the project when you know they really don't. They try to get their sketches in. They start trying to tell you to put in some product placement in your sketches. ... The corporate agenda does not have anything to do with creativity. ...
"With Showtime, I don't have any notes. They've been very kind of hands-off and just let me do what I want to do so if I fail, I fail on my own terms. ... We screened ('The Underground'), so I know the impact it has. And I know that people are going to be shocked and they're gonna laugh.
"We did 'Iraqis' Funniest Home Videos.' We did 'Little Ray Charles.' ... You know (in the film 'Ray') when his mother tells him, 'Now I'm only gonna show you stuff once and then you're on your own'? (On 'The Underground') she sets up an obstacle course for him with knives and mousetraps." (Laughs.)
What topic or topics weigh most heavily on your mind right now as far as your stand-up goes?
"Family, divorce, being single, dating, sex. ... Turning 46 this year. The prostate exam, (which) is something that should happen to you in a prison laundry room. You have to pay for that. Make an appointment."
Actually wait for it in the doctor's waiting room.
(Laughs hard.) "Yeah. ... You know, (I'm) trying to change my diet. My brothers are all vegetarians. My brother (Keenan) told me that I should fast, like, four days out of the month. I'm, like, when we was back in the projects, we fasted. I don't do that no more."
Entertainment Weekly recently called the Wayanses the most powerful family in Hollywood. What did you think of that distinction?
"You know, it's nice that they said that. Now I say, let's do something powerful. ... For me? It's about ownership. That's what power is. Power is the ability to control your own destiny. Right now, we've done a lot of stuff for other people. But it's time to step up and step out and do it on (our) own. See if all these years of working for people have prepared us for working for ourselves."
Got a "Damon Wayans out in Honolulu after dark" story you can share?
"Yeah. My nephew got beat up by some Samoans, and they were gentlemen about it. (Laughs.) We were coming home from the Hard Rock (Cafe). They had turned the Hard Rock into a club. And this is when I was shooting 'My Wife & Kids' (in Honolulu). We were walking through a park area. My nephew was a little tipsy and he was talking noise. Some girl had took his phone in the club and he was trying to get it back from her and he was yelling at her.
"And the Samoan told him, 'Hey, you better watch how you talk to her.' And (my nephew) was, like, 'What you gonna do? What you gonna do?' There were, like, six of them! We didn't even see them (until) they raised up and we were, like, 'Oh, my God!' And so they was, like, 'Just you and him. Just you and him' (meaning) just one-on-one. And this dude beat the crap out of my nephew. He just kept body slamming him. And then afterwards he shook (my nephew's) hand and said, 'OK, bro.' (Laughs hard.) 'Mahalo.' "
Reach Derek Paiva at firstname.lastname@example.org.