During the early 1990s, Jim Carrey became a star entertaining comedy fans in American living rooms, courtesy of his outrageous performances on the hit sketch show “In Living Color.”
When Damon Wayans Jr. would visit his family, Carrey entertained him in the Wayans family living room during the same period.
“Jim would be over all the time, since he was besties with my dad (Damon Wayans),” Damon Wayans Jr. said while calling from his Los Angeles home. “Jim would fall down the steps in our living room and crack us up or help us make forts in the backyard. Jim was like a giant little kid.
“We had an unusual childhood. Having Jim Carrey over was normal for us.”
The Ford family manufactures automobiles. The Lauder family creates perfume. The Wayans family produces comedy.
Keenen Ivory Wayans and Damon Wayans created the groundbreaking “In Living Color.” Ivory Wayans co-wrote the hilarious 1987 film “Hollywood Shuffle,” which features his brother, Damon, and sister, Kim Wayans. He also wrote and directed the amusing 1988 flick “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” which also featured his siblings Damon, Kim, Shawn and Marlon.
Keenan, Shawn and Marlon Wayans created the “Scary Movie” franchise. Keenan directed the outrageous film “White Chicks,” which was co-written by and stars Shawn and Marlon Wayans.
The list of Wayans productions is endless, and as a result, the family has become a comedy factory. Among those to emerge in the family business is Damon Wayans Jr.
“It’s true that our family really is a comedy factory,” Wayans Jr. said. “Everybody is free and loose with their creativity. We’re all willing to share, give tips. Nobody stifles one another in our family. You can’t help but learn in this family.”
When Wayans Jr., 39, started out as a comic 20 years ago, he performed under the pseudonym Kyle Green.
“I did that until people started saying, ‘You look just like Damon Wayans.’ What can I do? I look like a Wayans.”
Wayans Jr., who will perform Friday and Saturday at the Spokane Comedy Club, also has the Wayans wit and drive. After appearing in some of his father’s films, such as 1994’s “Blankman” and the ABC sitcom, “My Wife and Kids,” Wayans Jr. starred on the ABC sitcom “Happy Endings,” which ran for three seasons from 2011 to 2013. Despite critical acclaim, the show was cancelled due to subpar ratings.
“It was a great experience,” Wayans Jr. said. “I’m still good friends with the cast and crew of that show.”
Wayans Jr. is working on a film or TV vehicle with who else but his father? However, in the interim, the focus is stand-up. Wayans Jr. will riff about his family when he makes his Spokane debut.
“I’ll talk a little bit about my kids and I’ll definitely talk about my father for quite awhile,” Wayans Jr. said. “He has roasted me for years, so I’ll roast him for about 15 to 20 minutes.
“I’ll talk about my mom and how I was raised and throw in some observational humor.”
Part of the reason for the Wayans family success is due to how they were raised. Damon Wayans noted how his father, Howell, would wake up his siblings at the crack of dawn to buy him a cup of coffee and a newspaper every day.
“He helped shape us as men,” the elder Damon said of the patriarch. “We hated it, but we did it and it had such an impact on our lives.”
Wayans Jr. had to obey his father’s stringent rules.
“Whenever I messed up in school, my dad would make me dress up in a suit and carry a briefcase. That was bad enough, but what made it worse was he would cut my hair so I would have (a bald spot) like (‘The Jeffersons’ star) Sherman Hemsley. He did that on numerous occasions from when I was in sixth grade to 10th grade.
“I normally had great grades in school, partly because I didn’t want to dress and look like that.”
It wasn’t a given that Wayans Jr. was going to follow in his father’s footsteps. While in high school, he hoped to become an animator.
“But I changed my mind about that after I accidentally opened up one of my dad’s checks,” Wayans Jr. said while laughing.
Wayans Jr. chuckles when looking back at his childhood.
“I never thought about my father and uncles being famous until I went to places,” Wayans Jr. said. “Everything about my childhood, except when Jim Carrey came over, was very normal. But when we went to Disneyland, we could barely get on rides because people would be asking my father for autographs and photographs every few minutes.
“I remember thinking, ‘Disney sucks!’ You know your dad is famous when Mickey Mouse asks him for an autograph.”
Wayans Jr. has no regrets.
“It’s been an amazing life,” Wayans said. “It’s a great time as an adult and it was great as a child.”
How could it not be if Jim Carrey is your play mate?
“Looking back it was surreal,” Wayans Jr. said. “That’s especially so since Jim was always doing a bit to make us laugh. He was always in some sort of character so he could crack us up.
“That was amazing, since I get it since there is nothing like cracking people up. It’s my job.”
Damon Wayans Jr. appears Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11, at the Spokane Comedy Club, 315 W. Sprague Ave. Tickets are $35 and $55. Show times are 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. For more information, call (509) 318-9998 or visit www.spokanecomedyclub.com.
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