Before graduating from Chelsea’s Bayard Rustin High School For The Humanities, Shawn Wayans had made his film debut in 1988’s I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. He made his proper television debut in 1990 as DJ SW1 on In Living Color, which he stayed on for four seasons. Success as a writer, producer and creator would start with the sitcom The Wayans Bros. — the first WB Network series to be syndicated — and the 1996 cult classic Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood.; these and many other projects were helmed alongside brother Marlon.
However, really big things started for Shawn when Scary Movie was released in 2000, a film which brought in nearly $300 million at the box office. Scary Movie not only spawned sequels, but also single-handedly created the early 2000s craze of the parody film genre. Shawn also entered the children’s entertainment world nearly a decade ago as a co-creator and voiceover actor for the Thugaboo and Boo Crew specials, as seen on Nickelodeon.
While Shawn and other members of the Wayans family are known to regularly be working on new projects at the creative facility they call “The Lab,” Shawn has not slowed down his stand-up schedule. About 10 minutes by foot from where he grew up, Shawn is returning to Manhattan for six shows between on Mar. 23 and 26 at the Gotham Comedy Club. Shawn can be followed on Twitter via @shawn_wayans.
The Chelsea you grew up in is very different from the Chelsea of today. Does anyone in your family still live near there?
Shawn Wayans: No.
I heard a story of Eddie Murphy once visiting your family’s home in Chelsea. Was he the only famous visitor who had come by?
SW: Robert Townsend used to come by as well. He and Keenen [Ivory Wayans] were friends.
Did you do stand-up in New York City before joining the In Living Color cast? What was the first New York club you did stand-up at?
SW: Yes I did. The first clubs I did stand-up at were The Comic Strip and The Improv.
For someone who hasn’t seen you live before, what should they expect from one of your shows at Gotham?
SW: Expect a raw, insightful, funny, and physical show.
You were originally the DJ on In Living Color. When was the last time you DJ’ed?
SW: Last week.
People generally know you not only from In Living Color, but also the Wayans Bros. sitcom and your movies. A lot of different projects. Is there a project that you are most proud of?
SW: Proud of them all.
Gotham shows aside, what’s coming up for you?
SW: Right now, my focus has been stand-up. I am in The Lab working on TV and movie scripts.
Is there anything you haven’t yet accomplished in your career but still hope to?
SW: I just want to continue doing what I’m doing and enjoy doing it.
When not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
SW: Hanging out with my family, watching movies, and eating good food.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
SW: I like eating at The Comedy Cellar and Nobu.
Finally, Shawn, any last words for the kids?
SW: Work hard and never give up on your dreams. Remember that the formula for success is preparation meets opportunity equals success.