Wayans Explains How Stand-Up Comedy Helped Him Cope With Loss

Wayans Explains How Stand-Up Comedy Helped Him Cope With Loss

Marlon Wayans has been a prominent figure in the entertainment industry for nearly four decades, showcasing his versatility in various roles from “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” to “AIR.” Despite his extensive experience, stand-up comedy is a relatively new venture for him, having only started in 2018. Currently, Wayans is promoting his latest special, “Good Grief,” and preparing for his upcoming Wild Child Tour. During a recent three-day stint at the Baltimore Comedy Factory, he spoke with Taji Burris of the Baltimore Banner about how stand-up comedy has served as a healing tool for him, particularly in coping with the loss of his parents, Howell Stouten and Elvira Alethia.

“Everybody is dealing with mental health. I don’t care what race you are, we all have trauma that we haven’t dealt with,” Wayans shared. He emphasized that many people mistakenly believe that healing means simply moving on, without acknowledging the damage caused by suppressing emotions. “Good Grief allowed me to understand my process of feeling. I want people to know it’s not just cracking jokes, but it helped me heal and I’m still healing. I will forever be healing from the loss of my parents. The most vulnerable place for me is the stage.”

Wayans also discussed how cannabis has helped him manage pain and anxiety, noting its proven benefits for anxiety and pain relief. “I’m not telling the world, ‘Hey, you need to smoke and stay high.’ You need to live in a reality, but if you want to take a little vacation and you want to, you know, smoke something or you’re being creative and trying to contribute something great to society, whether that be art or something good-natured, then do you for sure.”

Wayans will remain in Maryland, where cannabis is legal, through July 7. He is scheduled to kick off the Wild Child Tour on September 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In a broader conversation, Wayans reflected on how humor has been a coping mechanism for him, especially in dealing with the loss of nearly 60 loved ones in recent years. He explained that finding humor in life, particularly in moments of loss and grief, is how he copes with such tragic circumstances. He likened his multiple losses to biblical stories of suffering from which light and lessons can be found. Despite the depth of his pain, Wayans finds that working on material about his parents’ deaths, including performing a show the night his father died, helped him process his grief.

Wayans and his family have always tried to find something funny even in tragic circumstances. He sees this ability as a special gift that helps him through challenging times. He views the laughter that comes from this as therapeutic, helping him navigate his sorrows. “The ability to laugh through pain has been a constant in my life, from childhood throughout my career in entertainment,” he said.

Wayans also touched on the balance between comedy, being edgy or offensive, and cultural sensitivity. He believes that comedians should have the freedom to express their perspectives and attempt to make people laugh without deliberately offending. “We all have these things that we don’t pay attention to. We think healing is moving on and sometimes the reality of that is you don’t know the damage that you do to yourself when you’re too strong to cry or too strong to talk about it.”

He argued that despite their edgy jokes, it’s never the intention of comedians like himself and his brother to deliberately offend, but rather to try to find nuances of humor in their perspectives on life’s experiences. Wayans feels that the cringes that might come from his humor are a natural reaction to the edginess in his and other comedians’ jokes. He calls for a “deprogramming” of the sensitivity that he feels society has groomed, urging for a return to a time when people could freely laugh without fear of causing offense.

Wayans also shared his journey to accepting his transgender child, which he likened to a period of grief. He candidly reflected on his initial opposition, a process that saw him evolve from resistance to acceptance in about a week’s time. Marlon admitted that during his effort to protect his child, he was inadvertently causing a rift. In this journey, he touched on embracing femininity, vulnerability, and the importance of shedding ego and masculinity to support his child’s identity. He acknowledged that hearing of his child’s decision to transition initially felt like a loss, like he was losing his daughter. However, with humility and love, Marlon eventually recognized the critical role of a parent to provide unwavering support.

Wayans’ career in comedy has evolved towards tackling more substantial and personal material, such as discussing the loss of his parents, which he sees as a sign of growth. He aims to blend humor with vulnerability, tackling real-life pain in a thought-provoking manner. Wayans seeks to evoke laughter while addressing deeper emotions and experiences, showcasing a more mature and multi-dimensional approach to comedy. His comedy now reflects a shift towards discussing substantial and emotionally resonant themes, showcasing a deeper level of introspection and authenticity in his performances.

Wayans pointed out that comedy now operates within more sensitive cultural contexts. He noted that audience reactions are tighter on certain topics, requiring comedians to navigate these boundaries carefully to ensure their humor is well-received and does not alienate their audience. He believes the intent behind a joke matters more than its immediate reception, emphasizing that comedians must also be accountable for how their material affects their audience.

In conclusion, Marlon Wayans’ journey through stand-up comedy has not only been a professional endeavor but also a deeply personal one. It has provided him with a platform to process his grief, connect with his audience on a profound level, and continue to grow as an artist. His ability to find humor in the darkest moments serves as a testament to the resilience and strength that comedy can offer in the face of life’s greatest challenges.

Source: Baltimore Banner, Prime Video

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top