Damon Wayans was a cool guy – very professional yet funny and loose at the same time. It was a pleasure to speak and with him and I would have liked to have asked him about his movie career, but I ran out of time.
So why is the star of the successful ABC sit-com "My Wife and Kids" as well as an alumnus of "In Living Color" and "Saturday Night Live" and the star or co-star in a dozen movies touring the country performing stand-up in small clubs?
Damon Wayans laughed and said, "I'm still in shock why I'm doing this."
He quickly explained, though, that of all of the things he has done in show business from acting to writing to directing nothing "gives me the same joy" as performing live and alone on stage.
Wayans will be coming to the Comedy Connection at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee on June 2.
He said there is no better way to test your skills and timing as a comedian than performing live.
His fame doesn't allow him to coast.
"You have a grace period of about five minutes. If you're not funny, they're start yelling at you," he said. "You constantly have to prove yourself."
He said the stand-up tour was a "tune-up" for a television special he will be shooting on June 27 and 28. When asked what network it will be on, Wayans laughed, and said, "Whoever spends the most money."
Wayans is well known for pushing the comedy envelope. He recently was banned from The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles for three months for repeating the "n-word" on stage.
Wayans said that he apologizes to his audiences up-front.
"I will offend you tonight," he said.
For him, comedians are "the voice of the people."
"If you stop comedians from telling a joke, you stop the masses from expressing their point of view," he said.
Weighing in on the firing of Don Imus for saying "nappy headed hos" on his radio show, Wayans said that Imus shouldn't have been dismissed. He said he thought Imus was "speaking matter of factly. I didn't feel any malice. He was trying to be cool."
Commenting on the love-hate relationship many comics have when they land a television sit-com, Wayans pulled no punches. "I love the money and I hate everything else."
Wayans is currently working on launching his own web site, www.wayouttv.com, which will feature new comedy shows designed for Internet audiences. He said he doesn't understand why the television networks aren't designing new programs for a web-based audience instead of developing new shows.
His site should be up June 1 and will feature a sketch comedy troupe. If a character does well, Wayans hopes to launch more shows.
Movies hold little interest for Wayans right now. He said unless you have written the film and "want to protect the baby," being an actor for hire isn't appealing.
"I don't want to play the third lead in a Charlie Sheen movie, if you know what I mean," Wayans said laughing. "That's nothing against Charlie Sheen."
He said he makes sure to connect with an audience on their terms. He doesn't get on stage and talk about his life as a star.
"I talk about stuff they can relate to," he said.
He knows that some fans have misconceptions about the life of a person in show business.
Believe or not he said, he does not spend every day waking up with four women in bed, followed by his butler delivering breakfast, then spending all day hanging with other celebrities and ending it with five women.
"Well, not every day," he added.
Instead he'll wake up at 3 a.m. with ideas that he is compelled to write down.
"I work hard. My brain is calloused," he said.
He said the people he knows who excel in their field are the ones who work the hardest.
He said his friend, basketball great Michael Jordan, was the first one in the gym and the last one to leave.
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs