Marlon Wayans already was hard at work on his new comedy competition series, Funniest Wins on TBS, when he heard that his older brother, Keenen Ivory Wayans, was joining the other competition as a judge on Last Comic Standing.
“I think my lawyer may have told me,” Marlon Wayans told The Comic’s Comic this afternoon. “I don’t know who it was. I think it was one of my agents.”
But no worries. Marlon was happy for his older brother to be back on TV, too.
“My brother is a really great judge of comedy,” Marlon said of Keenen. “People need to see just how wise he is, how awesome he is.” Besides: “Funniest Wins is its own entity. It’s a lot edgier, it’s a lot grittier. He’s trying to find the funniest stand-up, I’m trying to fund the funniest comedian.”
Marlon said his crop of comics are younger and more focused on the digital side of appealing to fans, whether in short videos or even shorter Vine videos.
“I don’t think it’s a competition,” Marlon said.
No sibling rivalries onscreen or off? “Never,” he said. “Mostly it is who’s going to tell the best joke. I love my brothers. Whenever anything bad happens, I already forgive him.”
Marlon is spending this summer in close proximity to not just Keenen but also older brothers Damon and Shawn. The Wayans Brothers Tour — the first time all four have performed together publicly onstage since the legendary In Living Color days made them all stars — opened a couple of weeks ago and continues through August. They’re at Comix at Foxwoods on Friday, the NYCB Theatre in Westbury on Long Island on Saturday, and the Borgata in Atlantic City on Sunday. Another swing through Newark happens Aug. 1.
Marlon, pushing 42, may be the baby brother on tour but is packing the most/biggest/current big-screen credentials, starting with Requiem for a Dream through The Heat, with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, two installments each of A Haunted House and Scary Movie, and big comedies with Shawn such as White Chicks and Little Man.
Marlon and Shawn, 43, are used to working together on film and onstage. What’s it like now that Damon, 53, and Keenen, 56, are on the road with them, too?
“I think it’s a lot more fun. My brothers have a much older audience,” Marlon said. “So it’s the marraiage of the two audiences. The show is really fun because it comes at you from different perspectives. I think overall you get two hours of great comedy.”
And at the end of their four solo stand-up sets, if you’re lucky, all the Wayans come back out onstage together and take a few questions.
There’s no contest to see who the funniest Wayans brother is at each tour stop. Not even a friendly wager, Marlon insisted.
Much unlike the show he created and presides over on Friday nights at TBS: Funniest Wins. The first few weeks have been most unkind to the Vine and YouTube comedians, with three of those guys first to get cut from the competition. Did pitting them against stand-up and sketch comics make Marlon rethink their relative talents?
He wasn’t exactly surprised that the Vine guys had it toughest. “Yeah, because they have the least amount of experience,” he said. “You have to be funnier than just six seconds. Look. A lot of guys that can do funny sketches, it doesn’t mean you can make funny movies or star in a funny sitcom. It’s just you’re good in that forum.”
“Vine teaches you to be a quick joke writer and concept writer, but you don’t really have any meat on the Vine.”
So to speak.
Marlon also makes sure to keep his own social media savvy up to date, whether it’s @MarlonWayans, on Instagram, Facebook, or his full-service comedy video site, WhatTheFunny.com. Speaking of the latter, part of the prize he’s bestowing upon the funniest comedian who wins Funniest Wins is a high-profile showcase on his site.
Does he keep up with what other comedians are doing online (like, most notably this week, Weird Al Yankovic’s #8videos8days project across several video sites and platforms) in seeing how to break out from the glut of content that’s thrown our way every day?
“I think it’s important to look over your shoulder, but also have people focus on what you’re doing,” he said. “I do get inspired by people. It all helps. Be aware.” But focus on making your own thing.
And how do you make that new thing sing?
“Consistency,” he said. “It’s just consistency. And a deeper pocket so we can get some more talent in the system.”
Funniest Wins airs Friday nights on TBS. Here’s a sneak peek at this week’s full episode!