‘We just write from the soul’ – Marlon Wayans is not haunted by the haters
As the latest comedy from the Wayans dynasty, A Haunted House, hits our screens, director Marlon Wayans tells Tara Brady the secret of their success and why audiences, but not critics, love them
Scareman of the board: Marlon Wayans, far right, and friends in A Haunted House
‘There’s math and science to comedy,” the mighty Marlon Wayans muses. “I’m serious. This equals this. That equals that. There is even science to a good fart joke. That’s a hard thing to execute.”
If that is the case then the Wayans Family are among the greatest of all scientific dynasties. Marlon is the youngest of 10 siblings, all of whom are involved in the entertainment industry. A second generation is coming up on the inside rail. Yet no Nobel Prizes for Comic Science have come their way.
This is a great injustice. It is probably fair to say that the Wayans’ broad romps – Scary Movie, White Chicks, Little Man – do not have the verbal grace of a late Shakespeare comedy. But let’s be honest. When was the last time you splurted Fanta through your nose while doubling-up at The Merry Wives of Windsor? That’s what their films are for. Aren’t they?
“Well, thank you,” Marlon says with apparent sincerity. “Sometimes people say that they pee themselves. That makes me real happy. They say they laughed until their abs hurt. I get a lot of compliments on Twitter. Audiences really enjoy our comedies. Critics not so much. But audiences love them.”
The latest film in the Wayans oeuvre, A Haunted House, is not likely to alter that situation. Turning their satirical energies towards the tired genre that is found-footage horror, the various Wayanses hammer their way enthusiastically through the usual breathless series of earthy jokes. As ever, the film did not trouble the fresher areas of Rotten Tomatoes.
“Yeah, sometimes the critics get it and sometimes they don’t,” he says. “If I made movies for critics I’d be making a whole different kind of movie. Critics are above poo jokes. They need to watch comedies with an audience.”
Marlon can afford to shake off the snootier brickbats. Having clocked up dozens of comic hits over the past few decades, the African-American family can, quite reasonably, now regard themselves as proper showbusiness royalty. ° It is a quarter of a century since Hollywood Shuffle, Keenan Ivory Wayans’s satire on the entertainment industry’s attitudes to black people, became a surprise hit at the world box-office. In 1988, Keenan, second oldest of the clan, had another underground smash with blaxsploitation spoof I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. The teenage Marlon took a small role in that very funny flick.
“The confidence came from watching my brother be successful at it,” Marlon remembers. “Once Keenan was on television we thought: we can actually do this. Our dreams can be a reality if we work hard enough. I remember finally seeing I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and thinking: I can’t wait to be doing what he’s doing. I never had a plan B.”