In three words, Marlon Wayans describes himself: “seasoned veteran rookie.” Enlightened, on the cusp, playing for the All-Stars.
A few years have passed since the comedic talent frolicked across the big screen with his sardonic puns and parody comedy, but according to the 40-year-old, he feels no rush in his tread. If patience is a virtue, haste surely is a sin. With the premiere of his new horror-comedy spoof A Haunted House, this Friday, Wayans marks not only his return to the screen, but his first time producing, writing, and starring in a film.
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“All in good time,” he says.
“It’s a new beginning,” Wayans tells theGrio. “It’s good to kind of go through it by yourself; and put forth what your personality is. You set your own rules with your own team and your own guidelines and what you guys want to do. And I think sometime when you’re with different, shared points of view, it’s an older brother Wayans. With this one, I had no one to answer to.”
He adds, “It’s kind of like Janet Jackson’s Control album. Unless it’s a bomb, then it’s Dream Street.”
Embracing the extended satirical formula he created with films like Scary Movie and White Chicks, in his new movie Wayans takes an imitative spin on recent cult horror flicks such as Paranormal Activity, bringing into play sexual exhibitions, class warfare and interracial rhetoric. It’s a method he’s concocted and mastered, and one he does not feel is easily replicated.
“What they’ve done over the last years is bastardize the whole genre of spoof,” Wayans observes, noting his personal models came from movies like Airplane and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. “The last 10 years they’ve been putting out nonsense because there’s no story in their spoof. It’s just craziness; it’s erratic. What they did was try to emulate something that me and my brothers were able to do successfully, and they’re not doing a successful job. It’s just terrible. It’s sad. And what’s really sad was to watch our own creation – Scary Movie – turn into a bunch of jibe.”
Style and method clearly are important to Wayans, whose family built a small dynasty across both film and television platforms in the field of comedy. They are a brand of comedians, actors, screenwriters, models and directors, the first generation now giving way to a second group of like-minded talents.
Wayans himself broke into entertainment in the 1992 ensemble series In Living Color, and co-starred shortly thereafter alongside brother Shawn in their 1995 WB sitcom, The Wayans Bros. Over the years, his humor has been met with both acclaim and criticism, many applauding his good intentions and commercial success, and others chiding his approach as offensive, clownish and an extension of black minstrelsy.
Wayans defends his work, however, arguing he’s always believed he was doing justice to his heritage.
“We need to change how we look at minstrel shows,” he explains. “Do white people look at silent films and go Charlie Chaplin’s a minstrel? Do they watch Jim Carrey and go, ‘Oh he’s physical; he’s cooning?’ No. I think sometimes black people are a little too hard on ourselves, and we should appreciate our past…Andy and Amos and those guys, they opened doors for us.”