Batter Up, Damon Wayans, Jr.
Whether in the cult classic I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, the legendary and oft-imitated sketch-comedy series In Living Color or any of the myriad other projects the Wayanses have been involved in over the years, the family name has always been synonymous with hilarity. Proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, patriarch Damon Wayans’ son Damon Wayans Jr. is next at bat.
Having worked alongside his famous father in both 1994’s superzero flick Blankman and ABC’s now-syndicated My Wife and Kids, Wayans is now breaking out within the business he was more or less born into. “I’ve never felt an obligation to do this,” Wayans explains, “But if you’re constantly around people who make jokes all the time, you’re gonna learn how to do it whether you want to or not.” He’s currently carrying on the family legacy on another ABC sitcom, Happy Endings, which was recently renewed for a second season.
While the Los Angeles area is virtually crawling with actors and actresses who’d kill for a shot at one network series, Wayans wound up double-booked for this year’s fall schedule. Soon after the announcement that Happy Endings was getting a sophomore season, Fox greenlit another pilot he starred in, Zooey Deschanel’s The New Girl. “I shot The New Girl directly after shooting the first season of Happy Endings. Both shows were picked up, but I was contractually obligated to Happy Endings,” Wayans explains. “It’s rough because I truly do love both shows. I actually went to high school with Zooey D. here in L.A. I wish there was some way I could have done both.” Damon will appear in the series debut, but was replaced for subsequent episodes.
Aside from thriving on screen (his career includes a scene-stealing role in Will Ferrell’s vastly underrated The Other Guys), Wayans is equally passionate about sticking with what brought him to the dance: stand-up. “I love doing stand-up. I’ll always love it. I just came back from doing a month in the Cayman Islands,” he says enthusiastically. “So to answer your question, do I still plan on doing stand-up? Abso-fucking-lutely.” It looks like the family business has been left in the right hands. Happy ending, indeed. —Peter Hoare
(This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of ANTENNA.)