Comedy Central aired Damon Wayans' special, "Way Out," late Saturday night as part of its "secret stash" and here's a clip in which Wayans isn't exactly sold on the idea of electing either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for president this year.
After five years heading ABC's sitcom My Wife and Kids, reports have Damon Wayans returning to ABC to star in the TV pilot for new comedy Never Better, in which Wayans will play a misguided guy trying to be a good husband and father to his, er, um, wife and kids.
When I last spoke with Damon Wayans a few months ago, I already knew of his plans to launch his own online humor site, WayOutTV. He told me in November: "I'm trying to perfect YouTube. Instead of people uploading whatever they want, I'm filtering what people produce in entertainment...It'll start in comedy. In that arena. Eventually it'll branch out into all forms of artisitic expression...It's called wayout because I'm looking for a way out for artists."
No cute Way-in, Way-out wordplay there. And in his press release today, Wayans maintains his talking points and likens his new site to "In Living Color 2.O." On his YouTube page, he further describes his brainchild as "an incubator to develop innovative television shows for the internet." So what do the six videos released for his launch suggest about the innovative second-edition In Living Color? Well, that innovation means looking back 11 years to a short film about pimps and hos. That his son, Damon Jr., is going to be the next big star, thanks to the easiest prison-makes-you-gay premise and the prominent repetition of that word that starts with an "n" and ends with "igger." The other four videos feature Vincent Oshana, and three of them are TV ad spoofs, one which says "I can't hear you now, because I'm deaf and somehow still holding a cell phone to my ear," another which confuses Osama with Obama (always hee-haw-hilarious, am I right, folks? Ladies???), and a third which has the Burger King making whoopie Whoppers. Of course, I might be paraphrasing. Here's the one Oshana video that's not based on an actual commercial campaign.
Here's a fun fact: Damon Jr. and Oshana recently performed in the same Def Comedy Jam episode.
Before I get to recapping the year in comedy, circa 2007, let's look back at some of my more illuminating, insightful and interesting comedy interviews from the year.
My sit-down with Ricky Gervais has to take the top spot in my mind, because his strongly held opinions on sticking to your creative guns and not sacrificing your beliefs in your own sense of humor (and humour) are words that any creative artists -- whether they're comedians, musicians, writers or actors -- can live by.
A close second, then, has to have been my September face-to-face with Dane Cook. Arguably the biggest headliner in the country this year and last, in terms of tickets and CDs sold, Cook met me in a Manhattan hotel lounge as part of his promotional tour for Good Luck Chuck. But we barely talked about the movie, instead tackling every question you've probably wanted to hear Cook answer, and then some. He even brought up Louis CK!
Speaking of whom, Louis CK was just one of the many other bright lights of comedy I got to talk to at length in 2007 -- the others included Nick Swardson, Christian Finnegan, Jim Gaffigan, Michael Ian Black, Eddie Brill, Bob Saget, Artie Lange, Doug Benson, Damon Wayans, Charlie Murphy, Frank Caliendo and Tim Minchin. Of course, there were hundreds of other comedians I got to witness and talk to this past year, and hopefully, I'll get to tell you more about all of them in 2008.
Damon Wayans always seems to be getting back into the game, and this week is no different. The native New Yorker popped in to the Comedy Cellar on Wednesday night for a surprise half-hour set, telling me afterward: "I've got to get ready for the big show." That big show is Friday night at Beacon Theatre as part of the New York Comedy Festival.
When we spoke over the phone last week, I asked him about an upcoming Comedy Central special, and somewhere in between that and Last Comic Standing, we got talking about comedians being ready for primetime.
"I'm not a primetime guy, not in stand-up," Wayans said. "You don't want to be. If you don't express yourself -- if you can be primetime you’re not expressing yourself."
How do you look at comedy differently now after more than two decades onstage? "I'm a little more seasoned right now. I'm definitely a lot less afraid now. I think I enjoy it more because I realize I'm not going to be as physical now. It's time. I'm 47 years old. That youth when I used to bound onstage, now I'm a little more like Cosby, looking forward to sitting down on a couch."
But he still remembers his first time onstage, when he wrote all of his jokes down so he wouldn't forget them. "I put the paper in my jacket pocket," he said. "As soon as I got onstage it was so hot, I guess it was adrenaline. I took my jacket off and tossed it across the room...that was the first time I improvised. I remember laughter. I dont know why they were laughing but I went home thinking I was brilliant."
Do you believe in the saying that most first-timers in stand-up have beginner's luck? "No," he said. "It takes year of rejection to understand, first of all, what's not funny. That's the key. The guy who makes people laugh by the watercooler thinks he's really funny, but put him in front of six angry drunks and then he'll see. It takes years to develop a true voice and a passion for the degradation. It's kind of like being in prostitution. You need to be naked in front of people and hope they throw you two dollars."
They do tend to call comedians whores for taking so many gigs for bad money or no money, after all.
"Put a miniskirt on and the pumps on and try to get attention!"
Why are you starting up a new online comedy site, wayouttv.com?
"I'm trying to perfect YouTube. Instead of people uploading whatever they want, I'm filtering what people produce in entertainment...It'll start in comedy. In that arena. Eventually it'll branch out into all forms of artisitic expression...It's called wayout because I'm looking for a way out for artists."
How's that coming along? "I'm looking to put together some strategic partners. We're locked and ready to go, but we want to put all of our ducks in a row."
How has the Internet changed comedy? "It has the potential to change show business and how stars are made and how entertianment is distributed. It's fast. It's global and you get that instant feedback. The only other place you get that is live stand-up, or music. It's almost the same."
Do you like coming home to New York City? "For me, I'm not in New York until I'm walking the streets. I like to stay up by the park. I'll walk all the way down to Battery Park City and back." Doesn't that mean a lot of stops when people recognize you? "My thing is, I love people. I love the concept of people...people just want to say hi...for the most part it's just hello and I walk real fast. I'm not stopping to have tea with people. I'm moving."
When does your best material come to you? "Onstage. I get a little smile in my eye and I hit a zone...Sometimes I go up and I'm lazy or tired or distracted or whatever and that's when you do the premeditated improv...But you want to go home and enjoy it and think about it...Some nights you go into that club and smell the old liquor on the floor and see all the other comics in the back watching to see you fail and it's time to raise your game."