What the Hell Happened to Damon Wayans?

Damon Wayans

Damon Wayans

Damon Wayans is part of a big family.  Several members of the Wayans family have had successful careers in entertainment.  After being fired from Saturday Night Live, Wayans co-created In Living Color with his brother, Keenen.  The upstart sketch show was a hit and Damon Wayans was the breakout star.  He left the show to pursue a movie career.  But his career on the big screen never gelled.  Eventually, Wayans retreated to TV in the form of a safe sitcom.  These days, Wayans is in danger of being eclipsed by his son, Damon Wayans Jr.

What the hell happened?

Wayans - Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy and Damon Wayans – Beverly Hills Cop – 1984

Wayans began doing stand-up in 1982.  Two years later, he landed a minor but memorable role in action-comedy classic, Beverly Hills Cop.  Wayans played the attendant at the fancy buffet who gives Eddie Murphy the bananas which he puts in the tailpipe.

Wayans’ role is small.  It’s miniscule.  But his first movie is arguably the best movie of his career.

Wayans - SNL - Mr Monopoly

Damon Wayans – Satrurday Night Live – 1986

In 1985, Wayans landed every comedic actor’s dream job.  He was a featured player on Saturday Night Live.  If you don’t remember Wayans on SNL it’s probably because he got himself fired after only seven episodes.  During that time, Wayans grew increasingly frustrated feeling that his sketches were not given consideration.  Tired of being a background player, he decided to deviate from the script in a sketch called Monopoly Man (pictured above).  Instead of playing his part as written, Wayans improvised.  He went showy and effeminate.  Lorne Michaels fired Wayans after the show.  According to Wayans:

What was I supposed to do? I was supposed to just be a cop. But I was frustrated, because I think Lorne Michaels thought he was protecting me by not putting me out there, letting me do my thing. So I started walking around wearing dark shades. When they asked me what was wrong, I said, “It’s too white in here, it hurts my eyes.” I was really on the verge of a nervous breakdown, or just taking a gun and killing everybody.

Damon Wayans - Raoxanne - 1987

Damon Wayans – Raoxanne – 1987

Fortunately, Wayans survived his SNL experience.  In 1987, he appeared in minor roles in film and TV.  He played a bodyguard in Robert Townsend’s satire, Hollywood Shuffle.  Wayans’ brother Keenen had a larger supporting role.  Damon Wayans also played a firefighter in the Steve Martin-Daryl Hannah comedy, Roxeanne.

Damon Wayans - A Different World - 1987

Damon Wayans – A Different World – 1987

Wayans also appeared on an episode of the TV show, A Different World.  It was during the first season when the Cosby Show spin-off still starred Lisa Bonet.  Marisa Tomei was also a regular that season.  Keenen appeared in the episode in a larger role.

Damon Wayans - Colors - 1988

Damon Wayans – Colors – 1988

Wayans continued appear in small film and TV roles.  In 1988, he played T-Bone in the LA gang drama, Colors.

Colors was directed by Dennis Hopper and starred Sean Penn and Robert Duvall.

Next: I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and Earth Girls Are Easy


Posted on October 18, 2014, in Movies, Saturday Night Live, TV, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 95 Comments.

  1. I was starting to wonder what the hell happened to “What the Hell Happened” since it had been so long since the last entry. Great to see you back at it.

    This was one of the more interesting ones for me because I’ve always thought of him as a big comedy star, but never stopped to think about his career. I liked him in In Living Color and knew he was starring in a lot of movies, but never stopped to realize that they weren’t successful and that I don’t think I’ve seen any of them (post ILC at least).

    I guess this entry is better described “Why the hell didn’t it happen?” for his career.


    • Here’s the deal. The site traffic really picked up this summer. We had lots of people reading old articles that weren’t up to my current standards and it was embarrassing for me. Like when unexpected guests come by and the house is a mess. I kept trying to tidy up the old articles while writing new ones, but I could never get caught up. When Robin Williams died, I really had no choice but to go back and rework that article. Once I had committed to that, I decided I might as well keep on working on other articles. So I have been working my way backwards through the series cleaning things up as I find them. I’m currently revamping the Sharon Stone piece.

      There’s always a balance between writing new articles and keeping the older ones up to date. Since there are a lot more articles in the series now, upkeep takes more time than ever or I can let the articles fall out of date. I don’t keep them as current as I used to. It’s a trade off.

      But I also can’t let too many months go by without something new. So I finally reached a point where I figured it was time to put out some new material. And my schedule finally allowed it.

      I was actually surprised to discover just how unsuccessful Wayans’ movie career was. Like everyone else, I was a fan of his ILC work. I knew he didn’t have Jim Carrey’s success at the box office. But I assumed he had at least one hit somewhere along the lines. Mo Money was his best performer and its more of a base hit than a grand slam.

      A long time ago, I ran a separate series for cases like Wayans where the subject never hit the A-list despite expectations that they would. But ultimately, I just expanded the scope of WTHH and combined the two under the more popular series. The title doesn’t always apply as much as it did in the early days.


  2. I want to see that SNL skit with Randy Quaid!


    • Here you go, RB. Enjoy.

      Having watched the video, firing Wayans seems an extreme reaction…

      At the time, Quaid was a regular on the show. SNL was at a low point. They had hired a bunch of talented actors like Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall (yep, two Vacation cast members), Joan Cusack and Robert Downey Jr. But the show didn’t gel. Most of the cast got replaced the next season.


      • No kidding, I didn’t see anything in the video to warrant firing?? He hardly said anything at all, it was most a vehicle for Jon Lovitz.


        • Which is part of what he was rebelling against. They wouldn’t spotlight his sketches so he tried to steal the spotlight.

          Michaels did extend an olive branch to Wayans. He let him perform stand-up on the final episode of the season. Unlike, say, Eddie Murphy, there’s no bad blood between them.


      • I distinctly remember when I was a kid around that time that the network was seriously considering cancelling SNL and replacing it with WWF wrestling. 12 year old me thought that would be great! Thankfully that didn’t happen and in 1986 the beginning of SNL’s golden age (the late 80s early 90s cast) was upon us with the hiring of the likes of Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon, Dennis Miller (back when he was funny), etc.


        • Once Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman, etc arrived, SNL turned around. I agree it was a gold age. That was MY SNL.

          Dennis Miller was actually on the cast in 85 along with Jon Lovitz. They were two of the only hold-overs from an immensely talented and immensely wasted cast. It’s a shame to see what Miller turned into. He used to be cool and funny. Now he’s just an angry rich white guy.


        • You forgot Nora Dunn, who was the only female holdover from the 1985-86 cast.

          Dennis Miller: Not So Black and White:


        • I’m going to mix it up a bit and say Dennis Miller. Guy was culturally relevant for a good long while, and in the 90s ranked up there with George Carlin insofar as cultural satire was concerned. He was a friggin’ hero of mine in my highschool years. Compare “Dennis Miller Live” with John Stewart’s “Daily Show” format/style and you’ll find striking similarities.

          Post 9/11, Miller threw in his chips with the xenophobic warmongers and went all kinds of batshit. Overnight he decided that the jerkoffs he mocked as being incompetent, outdated thieves should have unquestionable authority to act in the best interest of the people he’d openly acknowledged as their victims for YEARS. I literally haven’t even heard Dennis Miller’s name since 2005, though I believe he does talk radio now? I don’t even care to google him honestly…


        • Dennis Miller: Did he stop being funny? Was he ever funny to begin with? If so, wha’ happened?

          I was watching Dennis Miller on Bill O’Reilly at the gym last night and remembering how I used to laugh at his material but now it’s sad. It’s not that he’s an outspoken conservative, it’s the fact that he’s just another bitter old fart and he spews out a bunch of sound-byte pregnant partisan douchebaggery that sounds so completely non-spontaneous and over-rehearsed it’s hard to believe the man has done live performances for decades. But I swear that I used to laugh at his material- a lot, especially his rants- and it’s not just the political switch that made him not funny any more.

          Was he ever funny to begin with? Or was it just a “you had to be there” thing? If he was funny, what was the big change? He was always libertarian with a conservative tilt in his politics after all.

          I mentioned recently in a thread about Matthew Perry that smartassery doesn’t age well, and I think that’s a major part of his problem. You can be young and cute and a cynical smartass, but when you turn middle aged and you’re not cute anymore then you need to have something else- some serious wit and bite behind your comedy, because smartassing (as a verb) in and of itself isn’t funny.

          I think another problem that I had with Dennis Miller even before his comedy became partisan was his South-bashing: he couldn’t pass up a chance to make some kind of joke about all Southerners being sister-fooking hicks. One time it bit him in the ass was on a talk show when a man with a southern accent from Huntsville, AL called in to speak to guest Tom Hanks about NASA. Hanks mentioned for the audience benefit that Huntsville is a key research and testing center for NASA and Miller of course makes some kind of “that’s reassuring- Alabama rocket scientists” joke, and then Hanks and the southern guy got into a surprisingly esoteric discussion of rocketry and funding that left Miller in the dust.
          Which reminds me of another thing: for somebody who made his bones on esoteric and-or obscure references, it became clear watching him on talk shows that he isn’t particularly well read or well informed. Somehow diminishes from the rants, if only to me.
          And trivial but I’ll mention it anyway: he named his kids Holden and Marlon after Caulfield and Brando respectively. I would be hard pressed to name two more “greatest generation” era self absorbed assholes than the fictional Holden and Marlon. But, his kids, his rules.

          So in your opinion: Was Miller once funny and now isn’t? Was he never funny? Do you think he’s still funny? And what’s your favorite flavor of Tang?


  3. i dont know why hes in it hes a tv star known for that thats alll of people on this site should at least have movie hit patric had a hit with lost boys why is damon here


    • I reserve the right to include anyone I want to in the series for any reason. 😉

      I don’t typically write up “TV actors”. But Wayans released enough movies that he doesn’t fit my definition of a TV actor despite the fact his greatest success came in TV. Sometimes, its a tough line to draw. There are shades of grey.

      To tell the truth, this article happened largely because readers requested it. One particular reader has been very persistently demanding this article since midsummer. And frankly, Wayans’ movie career was short enough that the article didn’t take as long to write as some other subjects. So, that’s how he got featured.


  4. plus its not like the media made it seem he was rising star


  5. Spike Lee kicked off the new millennium with an unsung triumph:

    By A.A. Dowd
    Oct 16, 2014 11:00 AM

    Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: Birdman, as well as David Cronenberg’s upcoming Maps To The Stars, has us thinking back on other showbiz satires.
    Bamboozled (2000)

    Among great filmmakers, Spike Lee is uncommonly hit or miss: He seems capable of making both masterpieces (Do The Right Thing, his HBO Hurricane Katrina documentary When The Levees Broke) and steaming piles of cinematic garbage (She Hate Me, Miracle At St. Anna). Ask most people and Bamboozled, his Y2K screed against the insidious persistence of racism in America, belongs firmly to the latter group. It’s no mystery why the film was a flop, commercially and critically. For a satire, it’s almost perversely unfunny, even in the rare instances when it’s aiming for humor. It’s ugly, both in content and in hideous, turn-of-the-millennium digital form. And Lee uses his platform to take petty swipes at his rivals, explicitly referencing his war of words with Quentin Tarantino and awkwardly wedging in a potshot parody of Tommy Hilfiger. Bamboozled is self-indulgent, unsubtle, and inelegant—a righteous howl of rage from the bully pulpit.

    There is, however, value to Lee’s anger, and it seems fair to wager that the overwhelmingly negative reaction to this particular effort is proportional to the film’s own negativity. The most confrontational joint Spike has ever made, which is really saying something, Bamboozled rubs its audience’s nose in a chapter of history most people would prefer to conveniently forget, then dares to suggest that the era’s most racist images—actors in blackface, buffoonish caricatures of black culture—are still deeply ingrained in the fabric of American pop culture. As one character puts it: “New millennium? It’s the same bullshit.”

    Eager to get out of his contract with a major television network, pretentious writer Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans, whose deliberately affected performance was another turn-off for the detractors) devises a kamikaze plan, casting two street performers (Savion Glover and Tommy Davidson) as the singing-and-dancing stars of a horrifying modern-day minstrel show. Imagine his surprise, and the audience’s, when the show turns out to be a hit, America embracing it as daring and edgy “satire.” The tapings, which Lee shoots in vibrant 16mm (in contrast to the harsh pixelated textures of the rest of the film), are disturbing throwbacks to an old-but-not-that-ancient era of dehumanizing entertainment. He offsets those scenes with ones of the two stars in their dressing rooms, blotting their faces—and their shame and humiliation—with a thick, dark tar. (In their anguish, and a damning final clip reel, the film dramatizes a Hollywood history of black actors finding success only by agreeing to embody offensive stereotypes.)

    Bluntly colliding The Producers and Network, with none of the laughs of the former and twice the cynicism of the latter, Bamboozled is a bitter spill to swallow. But it’s also rich with agenda: Lee’s exaggerated premise is his means of exploring how racism survives in mainstream American culture—as irony, as nostalgia, as “politically incorrect” humor. Would Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show really be a hit? Probably not, but Spike recognizes that even as blackface has gone out of vogue, Hollywood continues to find new ways to perpetuate offensive stereotypes. Lee, so often accused of “playing the race card,” made a movie that takes aim at the type of folks who use the expression “playing the race card.” No wonder the film’s unpopular.


  6. Damon Wayans’ Mysterious Absence From ‘In Living Color’s TV Land Awards Tribute:

    Tonight, TV Land is airing the 10th Anniversary TV Land Awards where Fox’s In Living Color is recognized with the Groundbreaking Award. But you wouldn’t know from it that Damon Wayans was a part of the iconic sketch comedy series. There were two members of In Living Color‘s core cast who were no-shows at the TV Land Awards ceremony, which took place on April 14 in New York: Jamie Foxx and Damon Wayans. Foxx couldn’t attend because he has been in New Orleans filming Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, in which he plays the title role. The absence of Wayans, who told organizers he was unavailable, was more puzzling.

    Wayans, who is credited as co-creator of In Living Color with his brother Keenen Ivory Wayans, was a key In Living Color writer-performer, who played some of the show’s most memorable characters. Sources close to the actor say that he declined to attend the ceremony “because it just wasn’t his thing.” But while Foxx (as well as every other In Living Color alum) allowed TV Land to use ILC footage with himon the awards special, Damon Wayans declined the network’s request for permission to use any scenes with him. Clips with Damon were shown at the event but, as a result of his decision, such classics as Men on Film and Homey D. Clown had to be cut out of the TV special.

    While he is a member of the Wayans brothers clan, Damon Wayans has largely gone his separate way after he and brother Marlon joined Keenen in his public exit from In Living Color at end of 1992. Damon Wayans has never been a part of Wayans Bros. Entertainment, the company of Keenan, Marlon and Shawn who frequently collaborate together. The only time Keenen and Damon have worked together in the past 20 years was when Keenan made a guest stint in an episode from the first season of Damon’s ABC sitcom My Wife and Kids in 2001. (They have made a handful of joint appearances at events alongside other siblings.) On Fox’s 25th anniversary special last week, In Living Color was represented only by Keenen, Marlon and Shawn. (Damon was featured prominently in the clips used on the special but they’re owned by Fox’s sibling 20th Century Fox, which produced the original series and the upcoming reboot.) The Fox and TV Land Awards In Living Color reunions come as Keenan is working on that In Living Color reboot for Fox, which will premiere as two specials featuring all new cast of young performers.

    Keenan is hosting and executive producing the reboot, which is being done without Damon’s involvement. That fact as well as long-running speculation about friction between the two oldest Wayans brothers have sparked rumors about a more serious rift between Keenan and Damon. Sources close to the two dismiss any talk of friction between them as “absurd,” noting that Keenen and Damon have remained close and that Damon was present for some of the editing of the new ILC specials earlier this week. In fact, Damon’s son, Damon Wayans Jr., makes an appearance in the specials, though the actor has a strong relationship with Fox, which cast him as one of the leads of New Girl, a series he had to pull out of when his other show, ABC’s Happy Endings, was unexpectedly renewed. “They make fight like any family, but nothing gets between the Wayans brothers,” one source from the Wayans bros. camp said.


  7. Top 5/Bottom 5: Wayans Brothers’ Movies:

    When “A Haunted House” arrives in theaters this week, film fans will see a familiar face front and center in the horror genre send-up: Marlon Wayans, who famously launched the “Scary Movie” horror spoof franchise back in 2000. This time around, though, there’s one major difference: Marlon is flying solo, with his brothers Damon and Keenen Ivory and the rest of the Wayans nowhere to be seen.

    But is that a good thing or a bad thing?

    Your answer may depend entirely on which of their movies you’ve seen, because while the Wayans have put out some major knee-slappers over the past quarter of a century, they’ve also put out just as many forehead-smackers. So to help you get ready for “A Haunted House,” here’s our look at the top five and bottom five Wayans Brothers movies of all time — or one entry for each of the ten Wayans.

    Top 5:

    1. ‘Scary Movie 2′
      It’s rare that a sequel manages to live up to the original, but 2001′s “Scary Movie 2″ pulls off the trick thanks in large part to the presence of Shawn and Marlon Wayans in front of the camera and Keenen Ivory Wayans behind the camera. Sadly, the Wayans haven’t really been involved in the three “Scary Movie” films that have followed, but if you want a nice preview of “A Haunted House,” look no further than “Scary Movie 2,” which features a bunch of potential victims who, you guessed it, visit a haunted house.
    2. ‘Blankman’
      Frankly, we’re kind of surprised we haven’t yet seen a sequel to 1994′s “Blankman.” It seems to be the perfect time for a follow-up to this comedy starring Damon Wayans as a daft inventor who turns himself into a low-budget superhero. And hey, if Damon isn’t up for it, “Blankman 2″ would be the perfect vehicle to spotlight his son, Damon Wayans, Jr., who appeared in “Blankman” at the ripe age of 12. “Blankman 2: Son of Blankman,” anyone?

    3. ‘Scary Movie’
      Remember what we just said about sequels living up to the original? Well, it’s true “Scary Movie 2″ is funny, but you still can’t beat the real thing. 2000′s “Scary Movie,” which was written by co-stars Shawn and Marlon Wayans and directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, was at the time the highest-grossing film ever made by a black director. It also spawned a host of copycat spoof films and launched the career of Anna Faris. Most importantly, though? It was really funny — and it still holds up after all these years.

    4. ‘Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood’
      There are, in fact, two things about this movie that are a legit menace: The first is that you might choke on your own tongue trying to say the title, and the second is the serious risk of laughing yourself to death. A timely send-up of all the gritty urban dramas of the early ’90s (see: “Boyz n the Hood” and “Menace II Society”), 1996′s “Don’t Be A Menace…” only sounds like a Fiona Apple album title until you actually watch it. Then you’ll get to see the film that truly made Shawn and Marlon Wayans into legit big screen stars after earning their stripes on television. Best of all? It’s now funny not just for the jokes, but also for the nostalgia. That’s a combo that’s pretty hard to beat.

    5. ‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!’
      Directed by, written by and starring Keenen Ivory, 1988′s “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!” is still the gold standard for the signature Wayans Brothers’ style spoof. It all started here with Keenen Ivory paying homage to the blaxploitation films of the ’70s as an army veteran named Jack Spade seeking vengeance for the death of his brother. “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!” is filled with cameos and guest appearances by classic ’70s stars like Jim Brown and Isaac Hayes, and it also features a number of newcomers who would go on to become stars, like Keenen Ivory’s siblings Damon, Marlon and Kim. Hard to top this one.

    Bottom 5:

    1. ‘A Low Down Dirty Shame’
      Okay, so we want to say this right up front: We kinda like this one, which ratchets up the action with Keenen Ivory as an ex-cop who gets involved with an old flame when a closed case gets reopened. It’s got a bit of noir in its DNA, not to mention a lot of laughs. However, objectively speaking, we have to admit the film isn’t that great, despite the presence of the underrated Kim Wayans. Want proof? Well, how about the movie’s current Rotten Tomatoes rating: 0%. As someone once said, math don’t lie.

    2. ‘Dance Flick’
      It seemed like a good idea at the time, to spoof the whole “Step Up” dance movie craze just like they had previously tweaked “Scream” and its ilk. And 2009′s “Dance Flick” brought even more Wayans to the table, with Keenan Ivory, Shawn and Marlon writing, Damon Jr. starring, Damien Dante behind the camera and about a half dozen other Wayans you’ve never even heard of making cameos. But this one turned out to be a case of too many cooks, as the result wasn’t really worthy of any of them. And it had such promise, too.

    3. ‘Mo’ Money’
      Like “A Low Down Dirty Shame,” 1992′s “Mo’ Money” certainly has its fans. However, it has very, very few of them. Sure, Damon Wayans wrote and starred in this comedy about a con man who outsmarts himself and ends up in hot water as a result. And yeah, Marlon is in it, as is the super-cool actress Stacey Dash, who would later co-star in “Clueless.” And… Actually, that’s pretty much a complete list of reasons to even think about watching this one. Considering how many films the Wayans have done — and how many Wayans there are — the law of averages suggests that some of their films just won’t be very good. This is the proof.

    4. ‘White Chicks’
      While some fans and critics found the basic premise of 2004′s “White Chicks” to be patently offensive — Shawn and Marlon star as FBI agents who go undercover by disguising themselves as, well, white chicks — obviously not everyone shared that opinion, as the film went on to earn over $113 million. Comedy pretty much has one basic rule: Anything can be forgiven as long as it’s funny. But that just points out the truly offensive part of “White Chicks,” which is that it’s not actually funny. Cheap jokes about race are one thing, but cheap jokes that aren’t funny? Now that’s truly unforgivable.

    5. ‘Little Man’
      Advertised with the tagline “From the guys who brought you ‘White Chicks,’” 2006′s “Little Man” (or “LiTTLEMAN” as we refuse to call it) has a truly groundbreaking premise, though not in a good way. See, Marlon plays a little person named Calvin who also happens to be a hardboiled crook. Shawn is part of a couple who want to have a baby, so Calvin disguises himself as a baby and tricks them into adopting him. And then no hilarious hijinks ensue. Instead, one of the most unfunny and offensive non-comedies in recent memory unfolds, one terribly painful gag at a time. “Little Man,” big mistake.


  8. I really don’t know why Damon Wayans didn’t have a better film career (besides the obvious argument of him “picking bad scripts” and what not) after all of the promise that he showed on “In Living Color” (I’ve been trying to find an answer on line, but nothing satisfactory thus far). If I had to guess, I think part of Damon’s problem is that a good portion of his success had to do w/ working w/ his brother, Keenan on “In Living Color” and “I’m Gonna Git U Sucka” before that. This is not to say that Damon isn’t a talented guy on his own, it’s just that I think that working w/ his family as well as people like David Alan Grier, and Jim Carrey, Kelly Coffield (“The White Chick” on “In Living Color” ;)) brought out the best in Damon. It seemed like when Damon was left to his own devices I guess, his humor felt dumbed down or not as sharp and on point.

    Obviously, Damon never really had a “breakthrough” movie role (I guess “The Last Boy Scout” was supposed to be that, but it didn’t turn out as well as expected) to extend the good will that he was carrying from “In Living Color”. If Damon’s movies were better received at least by critics, then he wouldn’t have quickly tapped the audiences’ good will out. Martin Lawrence’ movies were often badly received by critics but at least he had “Bad Boys” to fall back on in terms of proving his box office success. Hell, even his brother Marlon has been more successful at the box office w/ “Scary Movie” and the first “G.I. Joe” movie.


    • I think you’re on to something there. Marlon was more successful at the box office. I think partially that is due to the fact that Marlon was more willing to play within the system. Damon made little movies he could control. Marlon would do big movies like GI Joe in which he was just a hired hand.


      • Marlon also proved he could handle dramatic roles with his role in Requiem For A Dream.

        Part of the problem might be that most of the major roles Damon got just weren’t suited that well to his personality and talent. And those that did failed at the box office.


        • I also think that Hollywood and/or Damon himself overestimated his value as a box office star. Damon was considered the breakout star of “In Living Color” (I think that most people forget that looking at the success that Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx would eventually enjoy), but the reality is that he was still part of a “collective” (if that makes sense). I guess what I mean is that a lot of his success was also his family’s success. As I said before, I think what in part hurt Damon is that he didn’t keep creative ties w/ his brother Keenan. I just think (and I pretty much already said this) that Damon needed his family to bring the best out of him as a comedian.

          I don’t understand why Damon never did a film version of Homey D. Clown considering that it’s his best known or most iconic character on “In Living Color”. I also think that part of the problem is that “In Living Color” was one of those shows that may have been too ahead of its time. It was a very unabashedly politically incorrect, racially and satirically charged, cutting edge show. And sometimes, that sort of humor may be rather hard to translate or adjust to a more mainstream audience.

          Damon may have also been somewhat of a victim of bad timing. For example, he made “The Last Boy Scout” when the whole “salt and pepper, action-comedy” thing was pretty much no longer revolutionary (due to “48Hrs”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, “Running Scared”, and “Lethal Weapon”). He made “Blankman” a year after Robert Townsend’s “Meteor Man” made it look like a comedy about a black superhero (again, I don’t know why Damon didn’t turn Handi-Man into a movie other than the fear that the concept would’ve been too offensive) really couldn’t work. He made “Bulletproof” shortly before Adam Sandler was a bonafide box office superstar. And he made “Celtic Pride” when Dan Aykroyd was well past his “Blues Brothers”/Trading Places”/”Ghostbusters”/”Spies Like Us” ’80s peak.


        • I always felt The Last Boy Scout was an underrated movie. In some ways, it was a movie that was out of place and out of time. It was hindered by being released both in the shadow of Hudson Hawk and at a time when the action movie tropes of the 80s were starting to seem passe to much of the moviegoing public. Also many people were starting to look at Bruce Willis as a has been, a relic of the 80s that was sticking around for a few more years. Pulp Fiction and a few other subsequent films would prove this wrong. But this was how it looked to many moviegoers in that period of the early 90s.

          The movie’s cynical, downbeat tone also didn’t help. Many critics pointed out a certain level of misogyny in the movie itself and there is some truth to that. Not more than what you might hear in an NWA song perhaps. But the Last Boy Scout was a very politically incorrect movie released at a time when audiences were becoming more PC.

          I watched The Last Boy Scout a large number of times as a teen and still enjoy it today at 36. It may not be perfect. But it’s an example of a well-done action picture that’s above the norm.


        • While Lebeau may be right that Beverly Hills Cop may be the best movie Wayans ever appeared in, it’s a miniscule role lasting less than a minute (“You go ahead, you take those bananas”). But I would say outside of that, the movie that best displayed his comedic talent was I’m Gonna Get You, Sucka. It was a supporting role, but he was absolutely hysterical in that in a way he never was once he made it to leading man status. With that film, and later with In Living Color, he was allowed to go over-the-top with his performances, think of Homey D. Clown or Men In Film, where he could be silly and be hilarious. I liked Last Boy Scout, Mo Money, Celtic Pride and Great White Hype, but his performances in those films were muted, he was mildly amusing instead of hilarious. I think if he had found a script where he could’ve played the lead and gone over-the-top and silly, perhaps he would’ve done better for himself.


        • I can get behind that assessment. Wayans as a leading man always felt restrained and sedated. He should have gone all out like Jim Carrey did. Maybe then, he could have built on his In Living Color following.


        • Mo Money` Could Use A Good Deal More Comedy:

          July 24, 1992 | By Dave Kehr, Movie critic.

          If you were the star and chief creative force behind one of the most popular comedy series on television, what would you do for your first movie as a major headliner?

          How about a violent, low-grade crime thriller in which the jokes disappear after the first 30 minutes and macho posturing, with fists, guns and speeding cars, takes over for the remainder of the running time?

          As perverse as that may seem, thats pretty much what Damon Wayans, star and creator of televisions In Living Color, has provided with Mo` Money.

          This dark and frequently bloody feature was written by Wayans and slickly directed by Peter Macdonald, whose best-known work is Rambo III. The car crashes, not surprisingly, are far more effectively staged than the punchlines.

          Wayans plays Johnny Stewart, a Chicago street hustler whose infatuation with the beautiful Amber Evans (Stacey Dash) drives him into taking a job in the mailroom of her company, a major credit card firm.

          In between sorting letters and avoiding the unwelcome advances of a gangly female co-worker (Almayvonne), Johnny discovers a plot to float stolen credit cards, masterminded by the company`s sinister director of security

          (John Diehl, in an effective performance).

          Enlisting the aid of his younger brother Seymour (played by Wayans`

          younger brother Marlon) and the understanding lieutenant (Joe Santos) who was his late fathers partner on the police force, Johnny decides to go straight and expose the whole dirty business, thus proving himself worthy of Ambers love.

          The two brothers do work a couple of amusing cons in the course of the film, both of which involve variations on Wayans` TV characters-a drug-addled homeboy and an outrageously campy black queen.

          But taken out of the context of sketch comedy and placed in a more-or-less real world, Wayan`s comic stereotypes lose their playfulness and take on an uncomfortably aggressive, mean-spirited tone.

          Garnering more abuse than anyone, though, is the black yuppie played by Harry J. Lennix, whose more heinous crimes include listening to classical music and inviting Amber to the opera.

          Obviously, he deserves everything he gets.

          MO MONEY`


          Directed by Peter Macdonald; written by Damon Wayans; photographed by Don Burgess; edited by Hubert C. de La Bouillerie; production designed by William Arnold; music by Jay Gruska; produced by Michael Rachmil. A Columbia Pictures release; opens Friday at the Chestnut Station, Webster Place and outlying theaters. Running time: 1:37. MPAA rating: R.

          THE CAST

          Johnny Stewart ………………….. Damon Wayans

          Amber Evans …………………….. Stacey Dash

          Lt. Raymond Walsh ……………….. Joe Santos

          Keith Heading …………………… John Diehl

          Seymour Stewart …………………. Marlon Wayans


        • In fairness, “Major Payne” and “Blankman” at least on the surface, seemed like attempts by Damon Wayans to play a more over-the-top or outlandish persona. I never thought about this until today while culling through old reviews of “Mo Money”, you can argue that Damon’s style of comedy (when out of the context of a sketch comedy and satirical show like “In Living Color”) can often come across as incredibly stereotypical and even mean-spirited.

          I don’t understand why Damon simply couldn’t have done a straight-up adaptation of the “Mo’ Money” (technically, the skit is called “The Homeboy Shopping Network”) skit from “In Living Color (instead of the weirdly uneven, comedy-extremely violent action thriller hybrid), in which Damon and his brother Keenen played these street-hustlers/pitchmen who used a QVC-style approach to sell stolen goods.

          Damon in retrospect, should’ve for his early attempts at being a leading man (e.g. “The Last Boy Scout” and “Mo Money”) should’ve picked purely comedic projects instead of trying to be an action hero (in movies w/ gratuitous, ugly violence to boot). I’m guessing that Damon was going to Eddie Murphy’s playbook when he made gritty action-oriented flicks like “48 HRs” and “Beverly Hills Cop”. Damon even tried to go back to that well again w/ “Bulletproof”.


      • MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Mo’ Money’ Overdoses on Blood, Guts:

        July 27, 1992 | MICHAEL WILMINGTON

        “Mo’ Money” (citywide) is les’ funny. It’s a movie hybrid. Starting out as a sort of lower-class black “Sting,” it moves into a lackluster retread of “Strictly Business” and ends up grabbing at the last scraps of the “Lethal Weapon” knockoff sweepstakes.

        Written by and starring the chameleonic Damon Wayans, “Mo’ Money” has a promising start: A couple of Chicago street con artists (Damon and brother Marlon Wayans) stumble into a major scam, when Damon’s Johnny Stewart falls for credit-card company executive Amber Evans (Stacey Dash).

        But the comedy gets derailed into big-movie pyrotechnics: high-tech bloodshed, superpowered carnage. We don’t just get credit-card scams; we get an evil criminal empire.

        Suddenly, everyone is pulling out guns: The whole movie gets mean, ugly and brashly overconfident. The humor is short-shrifted: smashed, bashed and car-crashed to death. Mo’ blood, mo’ guts but not much mo’ better.

        Damon Wayans is best known for the hit TV satire “In Living Color” and his co-starring turn with Bruce Willis in “The Last Boy Scout”–an empty buddy cop show, whose Shane Black script was notable mainly for the money it cost and the adolescent wisecracks that were all it had to sell. Here, it looks as if Wayans’ “Boy Scout” side won out over his “Living Color” side: a real miscalculation.

        As the movie winds on, surging toward its mano-a-mano , jump-on-the-car-roof, death-wrestle climax, even the comedy gets meaner and coarser. It’s one thing to laugh at the gulling of a foul-mouthed bigot, tricked into buying an empty TV box. It’s another to laugh at (single-name) actress Almayvonne’s Charlotte getting kicked out of bed by Marlon Wayans because she’s too ugly, and then thrown into the hallway with two bucks shoved under the door. Or to try to chuckle at the Wayans brothers during a joint gay impersonation at a jewelry store, coughing all over the salespeople to exploit their fear of AIDS.

        When Keenen Ivory Wayans made “I’m Gonna Git You, Sucka”–with Damon in the cast–he was satirizing the macho blaxploitation thriller excesses of an earlier era, which he obviously also enjoyed. But “Mo’ Money” doesn’t have that light an approach; it moves right into the Uzi-in-the-gut realm of Arnold Schwarzenegger one-liners. The director, Peter Macdonald, is best known for “Rambo III”–a super-action movie that was unintentionally funny–and he seems more comfortable with shocks than yocks.

        There are amusing things in “Mo’ Money” (rated R for language, sensuality and violence)–the chemistry of the Wayans team, the paterfamilias routine of Joe Santos as a good cop, the piquant sexiness of Stacey Dash–but they get steamrollered by all the high-tech crash-bang movie machismo . This comedy about a couple of con artists winds up conning itself. There isn’t always a pot of gold at the end of those blood-drenched rainbows.


        • MO’ MONEY (1992):

          Directed By: Peter MacDonald
          Written By: Damon Wayans
          Cinematography By: Don Burgess
          Editor: Hubert de la Bouillerie

          Cast: Damon Wayans, Marlon Wayans, John Diehl, Stacey Dash, Joe Santos, Harry Lennix, Salli Richardson, Jackie Hoffman, Bernie Mac

          Trying to get his act together, a con artist gets a job in a credit card company. He falls in love with a fellow employee, he steals a couple of cards, everything is going great. But soon, the chief of security drags him into the big leagues of criminals…

          I remember seeing this film in he theater about 3 times. The last two times I discovered why. It’s not that funny. It has plenty of set-up’s to be funny, but doesn’t follow through on them.

          The first time I saw this, I went with the crowd and laughed where I was supposed to, but each time after that the crowd ate it up, but I didn’t. I enjoyed seeing the audience enjoy themselves. I just began to wonder if I was on a different wavelength or maybe I saw it enough to know what To expect as it was more of a disposable film. It’s more meant to watch once enjoy and forget.

          Bernie Mac’s film debut.

          The film’ stone also after a certain point becomes serious and violent. Not in a lite way like the way the tone of the film has been for the most part. That make the violence seem a little too cruel.

          The film did introduce Marlon Wayans and he makes a good hilarious debut. Kadeem Hardison was the original choice to play Seymour Stewart. Damon Wayans revealed on The Arsenio Hall Show that his mother told him to cast his younger brother Marlon Wayans. The film rode on the success of Damon Wayans being the breakout star from IN LIVING COLOUR. He also co-wrote the film. He can be very funny and I think here was a honest attempt being made for him to become a leading man, unfortunately it didn’t work-out that way. Which maybe who nowadays the Wayans clan all make their films together directing, co-writing and producing each other’s projects.

          Damon Wayans even looks either too comfortable or bored as the film relies heavily on the audiences knowledge of his career on IN LIVING COLOR.

          This is a energetic movie that moves quickly, before it makes you. Ache and shows it’s scars.

          The film has a good memorable soundtrack. That is what I remember most from he film. It had a bit single with the Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross duet THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE. I even bought he soundtrack right after I saw the film can’t say I still lists to it that often but represents a time period of music to a degree.

          This film is the equivalent of fast food enjoyable while your watching it and passing the time, but once your done. Not very memorable there is nothing really to sink your teeth into here, because of that feeling films like these are usually put on networks on the weekends because it will take 2 or 3 of them to get your fill and feel like you actually spent your time on something worth while and not wasted your time.

          The film does have a good jamming new jack swing soundtrack that bring back memories as makes the film a bit more bearable. Though doesn’t make the film memorable. At least not in a great way.

          It’s a film purely of it’s time that is meant more to create situations for the comedic talent involved rather the. For the film-making and plot. The title and movie seemed to be inspired more from a saying that was used on the show Damon Wayans used to be a cast member on IN LIVING COLOUR

          The plot line here is Damon Wayans plays, A con man who is guilted into going straight and once he does falls in love, but has to compete for her. To romance her he makes him return to his old ways for money in cahoots with the corrupt security chief of the credit card company he works at. When he wants tiger out of the whole situation, he learns it’s not that easy.

          The story leaves Wayans with plenty of room to play his con’s that feel like run off it unused skit ideas.

          Though strangely the film takes a turn that does match up to the story though is strange for the genre when it becomes more of a thriller during it’s third act and has little to no comedy until it’s final minutes.

          Grade: C-


      • 11 Actors Who (Hopefully) Killed Their Careers In 2014:

        1. Marlon Wayans

        In fairness, Marlon Wayans has only appeared in 4 films over the last 5 years, so it’s safe to say that his career is already pretty much circling the drain. His single movie role for 2014 was as the lead in spoof A Haunted House 2, the sequel to the critically-reviled box office hit from last year. Still, the law of diminishing returns was in full effect, for this limp sequel (critics gave it 8%) cooked up “only” $23.9 million, which while still turning a profit on the $4 million production budget, is still a far cry from the original movie’s $60.1 million haul, essentially stalling plans for the previously-expected third film.

        Wayans is a talented actor, as he’s proven in films like Requiem for a Dream and, dare one say, Scary Movie, so it seems that perhaps he needs to completely hit rock bottom in order to be reborn, and maybe this just might be the way for him to sit up, take notice and think about reinventing himself. With that A Haunted House 3 pay-day likely up in smoke, Wayans needs a drastic re-think about his career.



      I think we’re all just underestimating how significant a force ‘luck’ is in 90% of Hollywood and celebrity careers. The lady who played Janice on friends, was an ace away from being Monica, and whilst these things always seem obvious from this end, the fact is it could easily have gone another way. I think only the sublimely talented always make it; the rest live or die by luck, and work ethic.


  9. I have a friend who really liked “My Wife and Kids”. Um, my favorive Damon Wayons film? “The Last Boy Scout” (minus the cool foolball angle, I like the buddy chemistry there).


    • The CineFiles Podcast: Episode 9:

      A lot is discussed in Episode 9 of the CineFiles Podcast. Andre, Jeff and Eric offer their takes on the new Netflix series DAREDEVIL, the films A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, A STAR IS BORN, Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE, the wrestling documentary THE SHEIK, MY FAIR LADY and Cindy Crawford nakedness in FAIR GAME. And then there’s the news. Now… This particular episode was recorded the day before Patty Jenkins was announced to replace Michelle MacLaren as director of the upcoming WONDER WOMAN. Not only that, but bask in the irony over how Jenkins name is never brought up among our list of possible replacements. And a mention about Olivia Munn’s casting as Psylocke turns into an Aaron Sorkin rant (Munn’s connection to the HBO series THE NEWSROOM led us down this path). Finally, we discuss our favorite guilty pleasures both in film and television. You know, stuff like camcorder horror flicks, teenage comedies, bad reality shows and 90s action flicks. The kinda’ things the CineFiles really hate themselves for liking.


  10. The knowledge that many of the WTHH are being reworked gives me something to greatly look forward to, after football season is over, and if we have another winter like last year 🙂


    • Some of the old articles are as much as 50% new material. Especially if you haven’t read them since they were originally posted.

      Walt Disney famously said that Disneyland would never be completed as long as there was imagination left in the world. The same can be said of WTHH articles.


      • Also, my life is slowing down, so I’m planning on getting a WTHH up in November. Finally done with rehearsal, girlfriend going to work on a cruise ship for 6 months, so I’ll have some time to get back on it. Thinking Adrien Brody and/or Keanu Reeves if I can help it.


  11. Someone definitely do Keanu!

    I had not thought much about Damon’s film career, but I have been watching his In Living Color clips over the past couple years, and he is simply hilarious. “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka” is also a great movie that I got into soon after it came out. Wayans is also excellent in “Bamboozled,” a flawed but interesting movie.

    It’s a pity. What he really needed to be in is more funny movies put out by his family.


    • I actually started researching Keanu about a year ago but put it on hold. Kind of waiting to see how John Whick does.

      So many missed opportunities in Wayans career. Especially considering his family and friends. He’s still tight with Jim Carrey and yet they have never made a movie together.

      Definitely agree about Bamboozled. Great potential. Messy execution.


    • After reading LeBeau’s description of Dan Aykroyd’s role/performance in “Celtic Pride” (“You can hear the last of Aykroyd’s talent slipping away!”), I’m awfully surprised that he, himself hasn’t gotten his own “What the Hell Happened to…” profile by now!


      • I think the main thing is that Aykroyd was never an A-list. He was always primarily an ensemble or supporting player. His few attempts at lead roles (Doctor Detroit) failed.


        • I don’t know if I quite agree.

          No argument that Aykroyd needed a partner. But he did manage to get movies like Dr. Detroit and The Couch Trip made. And his friendships with top-tier talent like Chase, Belushi and Murray gave him a lot of bargaining power. In the early to mid 80’s, I would argue that Aykroyd wielded the power of an A-lister. Without him, The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters never would have happened.

          If Aykroyd wasn’t A-list, no way in hell would he have been able to write and direct something as atrocious as Nothing But Trouble. That was when Aykroyd tested the limits of his power and fell from the A-list.


        • …so I guess Lebeau just wrote WTHH to Dan Aykroyd in 2 paragraphs. 🙂


        • lol

          That’s how the articles start. Then they expand. Just added Rene Zellweger’s thoughts on yesterday’s internet reaction to her plastic surgery. And the Sharon Stone article has more than doubled in size over the last few days.

          I’ve been meaning to write up Danny Aykroyd for years now. But he has one of those long filmographies that always discourages me from choosing him. Damon Wayans had a nice, short movie career. I like those!


        • If Dan Aykroyd wasn’t A-list in the early to mid 80’s, he was close to it. Blues Brothers was the 10th biggest box office hit of 1980, Trading Places was the 4th biggest hit of 1983, and Ghostbusters was the 2nd biggest hit of 1984. Of course, there were a few non-hits sprinkled in between those hits too, and his biggest hits all had other big names involved too (John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase). Come to think of it, he worked with a lot of other SNL alumni during his peak years. Wise choice, as it turns out.

          I for one would love to see a Aykroyd write up someday. He would be a fascinating subject. It might be of interest to note that during filming of Blues Brothers, Aykroyd got engaged to Carrie Fisher, who was playing Belushi’s former flame in the movie.


        • I did not know that about Aykroyd and Fisher. I wonder how coked up they both were at the time?

          There will be an Aykroyd article. And it will be better than Blues Brothers 2000.


        • I have to agree that Dan AAykroyd was A-list, especially since he had a foothold in the industry (For the record, I love “Dragnet”, even the goofy “City of Crime” rap).


        • I remember having a good time watching Dragnet at the theaters. I think I was just the right age for it.


        • Dragnet has not aged well. As a fan of both Aykroyd and Hanks, I will stop there. But Aykroyd paired up with Hanks for that film, further proof that Aykroyd instinctively knew he was at his best pairing up with strong co-stars that would help him carry the film (think John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Candy). He was essentially an A-list actor, but he had ensemble instincts.


        • I haven’t watched Dragnet in years and I don’t want to. There’s nothing pulling me back to revisit it. I enjoyed it when I was a kid and wondered what the negative reviews were all about. I’m pretty sure if I watched it now, I would understand why it got poor reviews. I feel the same way about Spies Like Us.


        • 10 Actors Hollywood Forgot About

          DAN AYKROYD

          Dan Aykroyd is an anomaly. It seems as if you haven’t seen him in years, but when you look at his list of credits you realize you have; just not in the ways you’d think. He voiced Yogi Bear in the film of the same name in 2010, played a small role in 2012’s comedy The Campaign, had a part in Behind the Candelabra, Tammy, and Get on Up, and just this summer he was in Adam Sandler’s Pixels. It certainly sounds like he’s been busy, so why did Hollywood forget about him?

          The reason seems to be that Aykroyd was a huge deal in the 80s’ – one of Hollywood’s biggest stars – and between Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, and Trading Places, it looked like he was unstoppable. But then he did stop, and after a few self-indulgent bombs Aykroyd faded away and only recently came back to dip his toes into the acting waters. With a cameo in this summer’s Ghostbusters reboot, Aykroyd’s time in the spotlight may come again as everyone remembers the potential and excitement that he once brought to comedy.


        • I think that the issue with Dan Aykroyd is that his style of comedy can sometimes be very cerebral. What I mean is that it’s the type of stuff that you “either get or you don’t get”.
          At it’s worse, it’s as if Aykroyd is the only one who is really “in on the joke”. With that being said, I don’t know if being a cerebral type of comedian is really flexible if the material he’s working with is admittedly terrible.


        • The now defunct website The Dissolve while covering 1987’s “Dragnet” on their list of “forgotten blockbusters” said it best when describing Dan Aykroyd:

          Though perfectly cast as Joe Friday, Aykroyd was miscast as a proper movie star. He’s a chameleon, a character actor, and a writer, not a lead. That’s why Murray is revered to this day, while Aykroyd’s name tends to come up only in discussions of the long-fabled concluding entry in the Ghostbusters trilogy. As Dragnet illustrates, Aykroyd has never been afraid to reprise both his own triumphs and the triumphs of others. Yet the appropriately mocking response that greeted Yogi Bear 3-D suggests that eventually, even the most backward-thinking souls need to either reinvent themselves, or consider calling it quits entirely. As a longtime Aykroyd fan, I would love to see him reinvent himself and experience a proper comeback. (If Chevy Chase can be part of a beloved cult hit, then there’s hope for anyone.) But for that to happen, Aykroyd would need to let go of the past and start over. Abandoning the long-simmering dreams of Ghostbusters 3—and the long habit of reheating older ideas like Dragnet—might be an excellent place to begin.


  12. Better than Blues Brothers 2000? That is aiming very low, my friend. Ha ha. What’s interesting is that Dan Aykroyd was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Driving Miss Daisy in 1989, and I had always assumed that he was the first SNL member ever to be nominated for an Oscar. Actually I was going to post that here, but I stopped and decided to double check that to make sure. Winds up, my assumption was wrong. It turns out Joan Cusack beat Aykroyd by one year: she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Working Girl in 1988. I know she was on SNL for one year in the mid 80’s, but when I see her in a movie she doesn’t automatically pop into my head as a former SNL cast member, you know what I mean?


    • I know exactly what you mean. Lots of ex SNL members didn’t get a chance to make an impression while they were on the show. Case in point, Damon Wayans (to bring things back around). There’s guys like Aykroyd and Chevy Chase who became famous on SNL and then went on to other things. And then there’s people like Cusack, Wayans and Robert Downey Jr that you can easily forget were ever castmembers.

      SNL just has such a fascinating history. I look forward to exploring it in more detail.


      • Absolutely. I find SNL’s history very fascinating. Matter of fact I’ve been planning on buying the book Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live for awhile, that I know of Eddie Murphy is the person to decline involvement, otherwise practically everyone to be involved in the show over the years participated. It’s definately on my shortlist of books to buy.

        By the way, I do have something that Aykroyd accomplished first as a SNL member: in late 1978, Aykroyd (along with John Belushi) released their first album together as the Blues Brothers, Briefcase Full Of Blues, which actually went to #1 on the Billboard album charts. I can’t think of another SNL’er to ever have a #1 album. That sort of shows how popular Aykroyd and Belushi were in the late 70’s, that they could get a #1 album back then. The Blues Brothers also had a few Top 40 radio hits like Soul Man (#14), Rubber Biscuit (#39), Gimme Some Lovin’ (#18), and Who’s Making Love (#39). It’s arguable if Aykroyd was ever A-list after he left SNL, but he was definately quite popular for awhile.


  13. BTW Lebeau I still plan to write that Jason Bateman article we discussed in email (for the A List series). But it’s going to have to wait until late November or early December to start. I think Bateman has slowly eased into A list actor and now director. If anyone is interested in collaborating let me know. Otherwise I can write it, but again, it won’t get started for several weeks. Once started it will be done within a week or two.


    • Great. As always, there’s no deadlines. Whenever you get to it is fine.

      For any of you contributors, the A-list series is fair game. I’m pretty controlling of WTHH because it’s the site’s signature series. But you can do whatever you want in the A-list series.


  14. The Mother Brain Files Underrated Actors Special: Damon Wayans:

    By Mother Brain

    The Wayans have been a household name for as long as I could remember. Back when the Fox network had just launched, my cousin and I would religiously watch The Simpsons and a sketch comedy show called In Living Color. The latter was groundbreaking for television as Saturday Night Live did not feature many black comedians in the period between Eddie Murphy’s departure and Chris Rock’s arrival. While series creator, Keenen Ivory Wayans, created opportunity for many future stars, its first breakout star would be his first youngest brother, Damon Wayans.

    As the third of ten children in the Wayans family, Damon’s life was constantly one hurdle after the next. His family lived in the underprivileged Fulton Housing Projects in New York City where Damon was born with a club foot. As he struggled with surgeries, leg braces, and orthopedic shoes to deal with the disability, Damon found an interest in comedy as an outlet to overcome his difficult lifestyle. Being influenced by Richard Pryor, Damon had a way of creating weird characters in his comedy routines which would help him later in his career.

    Damon was attending Murry Bergtraum High School when he made the decision to drop out in his freshman year. At the same time, older brother Keenen made the move to Los Angeles to start his acting and standup career. His brother’s ambitious move inspired Damon to follow his lead in 1982 and he quickly made the comedy club rounds in Hollywood. His relations with Keenen helped to create important connections including Eddie Murphy who helped Damon land a small but memorable part as a hotel employee in the original Beverly Hills Cop.

    In 1985, Damon’s comedy act helped him get cast as a “Not Ready for Prime Time Player” on Saturday Night Live. He had tough shoes to fill being the first black cast member after Murphy left a year earlier. Things were creatively difficult for Damon who could not get his sketches approved by producers and the stress of live television took a toll on him. Fed up with the production issues, Damon got himself fired from SNL after going off script on a sketch where he turned a straight cop character into a gay one (All was somewhat forgiven when he came back to guest host in 1995).

    Damon took small parts in movies such as 1987‘s Roxanne and 1988’s Colors just as Keenen’s career started gaining momentum. He had gotten Damon a small role in a film he co-wrote with fellow struggling comedian Robert Townsend called Hollywood Shuffle. The independent comedy financed on Townsend’s credit cards was a hit with critics and audiences, ushering a new wave of black cinema for the late 80s. Riding the wave of Shuffle’s success, Keenen decided to make his directorial debut with the blaxploitation spoof, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, and cast Damon as the injury prone henchman Leonard. It was another hit that got the public talking about the Wayans family.

    Yet, it was 1988’s Earth Girls Are Easy that proved to be significant for Damon’s career for a variety of reasons. He would play the alien role of Zeebo, a role which required him to sport yellow makeup and fur which allowed Damon to fall into character easily. It was also the film where he befriended another struggling comedian named Jim Carrey, who was playing opposite Damon as the red haired alien Wiploc. Though not a hit, Earth Girls gained a cult following in later years and it was an important step in the careers of Damon as well as Jim Carrey.

    In Living Color was more than just a launching pad for the careers of the Wayans, Carrey, and future superstars such as Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Lopez. It broke barriers for television as a majority black sketch comedy show that crossed over in mainstream America much like The Cosby Show had done. Damon was the earliest standout in the cast because of the positive reception to three prominent sketches: The vile homeless man “Anton Jackson,” the homosexual film critic opposite David Allan Grier in “Men on Film,” and his most famous character in the form of the angry broke entertainer “Homey D. Clown.” ILC gave Damon the creative freedom he was craving for that SNL denied him and it led to 4 Emmy nominations during the run.

    The raunchiness of Damon’s sketches were also met with controversy, specifically the “Men on Film” sketches which were blasted by pro-gay activists. At one point was denounced by Olympic star Carl Lewis after a gay joke was made about him during a Super Bowl sketch with the “Men on Film” characters. Damon and the rest of the Wayans family left ILC in 1992 after their relationship with the Fox network grew toxic due to increasing censorship.

    Near the end of his ILC run, Damon attempted to make the leap into films again, but this time as a leading man. He made a quick impact by teaming up with Bruce Willis in the Tony Scott action comedy, The Last Boy Scout. Playing the role of disgraced football star Jimmy Dix, Damon played up the testosterone-driven dialogue of writer Shane Black while also demonstrating his dramatic abilities. Many critics who panned the film at the time overlooked Damon’s performance which involved an addiction to drugs and mourning the loss of his unborn son from a car accident. Those small moments in an action film kept the story grounded.

    Damon was the full selling point of his next film, Mo’ Money. Loosely based on an ILC sketch, the Beverly Hills Cop-esque action comedy paired Damon and younger brother Marlon as two con-men with Damon as the one trying to get his act together by impressing an attractive woman at her credit card company job while uncovering an identity theft scheme. He brought in his famous characters from ILC for some of the conning scenes while also casting his brother over A Different World star, Kadeem Hardison, because of his mother’s influence. Though not a critics hit, Mo’ Money proved popular with urban audiences and for a brief moment made Damon a movie star.

    Around this time, Damon was so in demand that Warner Bros. had considered him for The Riddler in Batman Forever. That was until Jim Carrey shot up to the top of the comedy scene after ILC ended. Damon would find himself in more misfires than hits. 1994’s Blankman, Damon’s love letter to the 1960s Batman series, was a downright failure despite turning into a cult classic. 1995’s Major Payne resembled a bad Jim Carrey hand-me-down script than anything remotely original. 1996’s The Great White Hype was slaughtered by the summer competition as was the Judd Apatow and Colin Quinn-penned Celtic Pride. Later that year, Damon costarred opposite Adam Sandler in the race reversed 48 HRS. knock off, Bulletproof, which would also be Sandler’s first flop due to massive reedits to appeal to Sandler’s audience.

    Damon took a year long break after Bulletproof’s failure to concentrate on producing efforts. He created the animated series, Waynehead, for Kids WB based on his childhood experiences followed by the Fox drama, 413 Hope St. Neither proved successful in the ratings. Damon returned to the small screen in 1998 with his self-titled sitcom which only lasted half a season.

    Damon’s career started turning around in 2000 with Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. As a Harvard-educated TV executive conceiving a modern day minstrel show, Damon gave a performance equal to William Holden in 1976’s Network. His honest intentions to create a controversial show so it could be rejected get spun around and lead to corruption and tragedy. Though not a success, critics did give praise to Damon.

    The following year, Damon made a comeback on television with ABC’s My Wife and Kids. The Cosby-esque sitcom based on Damon’s family was a ratings hit for 5 seasons and made America fall in love with him all over again. Damon still had the magic with his impressions as well as his frank but hilarious take on parenting issues such as underage sex, marijuana use, etc.

    In recent years, Damon has spent more time behind the camera as a TV writer, novelist, and director for film and TV. He lives now through the success of his son, Damon, Jr., who has appeared in such hits as The Other Guys and most recently Let’s Be Cops. Damon has toyed around with the possibility of a “Homey D. Clown” movie in the near future. One thing is certain though: There’s a new generation of Wayans coming up and Damon himself is not going away anytime soon.


  15. my friend and i had a debate he think james caan reached a list i say he didnt he also think ralp fineas did


  16. its funny u think bruce is a has been because during pulp fiction he was considerd the only banakbility actor out of them all it said in pulp fictions interviews producers only let quitnen cast travolta because they got bruce on board with it and felt safe the movie could make money he took a pay cut the die hard hits were still fresh on people so thats why he bankable


  17. The Wayans are NOT funny!

    Post by Sephiroth on 16 hours ago
    The thread that mentioned In Living Color motivated this one. Seriously, the Wayans family are not comedians. They are even less funny than John Cena’s poopy jokes. Keenan Ivory was the only one of the bunch with a shred of talent, and even then he is far more talented as a businessman and producer than as a comedian and performer. They all recycle the same, exhausted jokes over and over again. And if it weren’t for their willingness to dive down to the lowest depths of bad taste, none of them would still be doing anything.
    Thank you for listening. Nuff said.


  18. Younger, Sexier, Inherently Doomed Case File #25: Saturday Night Live’s 1985-1986 season:

    There was a similar embarrassment of talent in front of the cameras as well. There’s a staggeringly odd sketch in the Francis Ford Coppola episode—covered in more detail below—involving a pair of cast members being brought onstage in suitcases with only their heads popping out. Every Not Ready For Prime Time Player onstage is either a former or future Academy Award nominee: The big galoot hauling his castmates onstage is Randy Quaid—who picked up a well-deserved Oscar nomination over a decade earlier for his heartbreaking performance in The Last Detail—while the unfortunate souls in suitcases are Robert Downey Jr. (nominated for both Chaplin and Tropic Thunder) and Joan Cusack (nominated for Working Girl and In & Out). Damon Wayans took characters and ideas from this ill-fated season and used them to launch In Living Color, while Anthony Michael Hall… well, I have it on good authority that he continues to pursue acting—professionally no less!—to this very day.

    Conventional wisdom holds that the gifted Damon Wayans was so flummoxed by the terrible roles he received that, in an act of desperation that doubles as a sad cry for attention, he sabotaged his future on SNL by queening it up in the infamous “Mr. Monopoly” sketch that sealed his doom on the show.

    In a strange development, Wayans was invited back to perform stand-up on the season finale, perhaps as an implicit apology for the show’s longstanding tradition of having its black cast members play roles that can charitably be called a little backward and uncharitably deemed horribly racist. Watching the 11th season, I was nonetheless surprised by how much airtime Wayans received. He was a regular contributor to “Weekend Update” as its “uptown financial analyst” (a.k.a. black guy) playing a variation on the “Mo’ Money” character he rode to temporary superstardom on In Living Color. (Hey, remember when Wayans was going to be as big as Eddie Murphy? Oh, but those were a giddy three-and-a-half months in comedy history).

    Wayans also figured prominently in one of my favorite recurring sketches of the season. “The Stand-Ups” is an inspired spoof of observational comedians in general and Jerry Seinfeld specifically in which a group of stand-up comedians (whose ranks include Wayans and Jon Lovitz, in addition to game hosts like Tom Hanks) talk to each other using the same “conversational” cadences they use onstage, desperately trying to figure out what the deal is with everything from time zones to fat-free milk. It’s refreshing in part because it’s one of the only sketches Wayans appeared on that doesn’t traffic almost exclusively in his blackness. On the contrary, Wayans has the same hacky body language and vocal tics as his white peers. He’s a stand-up above all, everything else a distant second. The sketch is also rich in inside jokes: Seinfeld, the ostensible inspiration for the bit, is listed on a poster behind the stand-ups slinging canned wisecracks and lame observations along with a number of other comics who either appeared on SNL or wrote for it: Carol Leifer, Sam Kinison, and Steven Wright chief among them.

    It’s not easy being black in show business, and it’s particularly difficult being black on Saturday Night Live. So while Wayans didn’t have it easy, his famously troubled stint on the show was a breeze compared to the ordeal faced by Danitra Vance, who, as a black lesbian whose dyslexia made it difficult for her to read cue cards, faced an overwhelming series of obstacles. Vance has a bright, appealing, and sweet presence, but she was given a shameful assortment of caricatures that were a toxic combination of unfunny, ambiguously (or unambiguously) racist, and an affront to her dignity, particularly Vance’s signature character, Cabrini Green Harlem Watts Jackson, a 17-year-old mother of two and a self-styled expert on teen pregnancy.

    On a less troubling, but somehow even more embarrassing note, this season’s Christmas episode opens with Wayans and Vance performing the “Wrapper Rap,” a Christmas wrap-themed rap song that’s maybe the most racist thing ever, and that includes Jim Crow laws, the political careers of Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, and the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. I suspect that if the heads of the American Nazi Party were to watch the sketch, even they’d say, “Jeez, we would never insult the dignity of human beings that way.” The thinking behind the sketch seems to be something like this: “Aw man. Damon and Danitra need a little airtime. But what could they do? Think, think. What race are they? Oh right. They’re black. What do black people do? They rap! Danitra and Damon can rap! And ’cause it’s Christmastime, they could rap about wrapping! Oh man! This sh** writes itself!” As a final indignity, the rap ends with Wayans and Vance gleefully explaining, with plastered-on smiles on their faces, “Every day is special when you love each other right, so live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.”


    • Iron Man and Farmer Ted review a book (sometime in 1986):

      With a few exceptions over the years like Eddie Murphy and Andy Samberg, “SNL” has asked its actors to bend to the traditions and formula of the show, and not the other way around. For the most part, the formula has tended to make stars out of the most talented people in each cast. Every now and then, though, someone will spend a year or two in Studio 8H and never quite fit in, despite going on to do great things elsewhere.

      Nowhere is that challenge illustrated better than in Lorne Michaels’ first cast in his return to the franchise he created. In part in response to Ebersol’s cast of ringers, in part in a failed attempt to recapture the youthful energy of the original ensemble, Michaels went largely young and very eclectic with this group, including John Hughes movie vet Anthony Michael Hall (only 17 at the time, still the youngest actor to ever join the show), Robert Downey Jr. (only 20), Joan Cusack (23), former Oscar nominee Randy Quaid, the show’s first openly-gay castmember (Terry Sweeney), its first regular black female castmember (Danitra Vance), plus other young and hungry performers like Jon Lovitz, Nora Dunn, Dennis Miller and Damon Wayans.

      On paper, this is one of the more impressive casts the show would ever have. In practice, it was such a mess that Michaels had to fire almost everyone — only Lovitz, Dunn and Miller survived — and plead with NBC to give him one more shot before cancelling the show. There was a ton of talent here, but many of the actors had little to no experience performing sketch comedy, and the writers didn’t always know how to use them (like asking Hall and Downey Jr. to make fart noises for several awkward minutes). Wayans, who would become a big sketch star a few years later on “In Living Color,” got so frustrated with how little he was being given to do that he changed his performance in a live sketch, playing what was supposed to be an unremarkable cop as an effeminate gay caricature; it got laughs on the air, but Michaels canned him for the stunt.

      Other “SNL” square pegs over the years include Larry David (who got one sketch on the air during his year as a writer under Ebersol, though he would later incorporate a lot of the experience into George Costanza story ideas), Chris Rock (who in hindsight would have made a better Weekend Update anchor than Kevin Nealon), Ben Stiller (who quit after a few weeks because he wanted to focus on the kind of comedy film shorts Michaels had little interest in), Sarah Silverman (who came and went without making an impression), and Janeane Garofalo (miserable for half a season as part of Michaels’ mid-’90s attempt to copy Ebersol’s group of all-stars, when he paired Sandler, Farley and other mainstays with comedy veterans like her, Michael McKean and Chris Elliott).

      “SNL” is a strange beast when it comes to its cast. Sometimes, the people who become stars outside it are exactly whom you’d expect (Belushi, Murray, Murphy). Sometimes, the show’s biggest stars struggle away from its machinery (Radner, Dana Carvey), while obscure former castmembers eclipse them. Sometimes, veteran actors like Crystal or Short fit in seamlessly; at others, familiar faces like Quaid or Garofalo or McKean spend a year looking confused about why they signed on for this.


  19. Checking In On The Cast Of ‘In Living Color’ 25 Years Later:

    Damon Wayans

    After saying goodbye to Homey the Clown, Damon Wayans starred in slapstick comedies like Blankman and Major Payne and the ABC sitcom My Wife and Kids. Then, a few years went by where we didn’t see much of Damon except for a cameo with his son on Happy Endings. Earlier this year, returned with a stand-up set on The Tonight Show.


  20. You know better then me leabu but I dont remember alot of hype surrounded around damon. Maybe I wasnt old enough to remember. I use to think Jason Patric had the least successful movie resume but damon does. At Jason had alot of screentime in Lost Boys Damons only 2 hits Roxanne and Bevery hills COp were bit parts no remembers him in which he barely has lines. I used to think Mo Money waS A hit because 40 mill off 15 mill budget may have been alot in 1992 since box office was different but now i realize at best base hit.


    • I agree. Everyone expected Wayans to have a hit movie career after In Living Color. But he didn’t. Instead, Jim Carrey had the career people thought Wayans might have.

      I very persistent Damon Wayans fan put a lot of pressure on me to write him up. That’s why he’s here.


      • Star-making movies that didn’t make stars

        Post by eron on 9 hours ago
        I was thinking about how some movies are obviously intended to make a movie star out of a TV star, an athlete, a musician, or an actor who recently had a breakout character role in a successful picture. Sometimes they succeed, like Bad Boys for Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, Ace Ventura for Jim Carrey, or My Cousin Vinny for Joe Pesci. But more often than not they fall short. Here are some that came to mind for me.

        Kuffs tried to cash in on Christian Slater after his buzzworthy supporting role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

        Mo’ Money was a bizarre attempt to mish-mash Damon Wayans’ In Living Color comedy schtick with an action crime drama.

        Playing God attempted to transition David Duchovny onto the big screen after his success on The X Files.

        Kiss of Death and Jade were a pair of these for David Caruso after his departure from NYPD Blue.

        Second Sight failed to make big screen stars out of sitcom stars John Larroquette and Bronson Pinchot, mostly because it failed at being even remotely funny.

        After his NFL career ended, Brian Bosworth tried his hand at acting with Stone Cold.

        Vanilla Ice attempted to make it on the big screen with Cool as Ice.

        George Strait wisely chose to stick to singing after Pure Country.

        After Mike Meyers hit it big with Austin Powers, his former Wayne’s World co-star Dana Carvey tried to follow suit with Master of Disguise. It didn’t work.

        Crossroads infamously tried to make a movie star out of Britney Spears.

        Collision Course was a buddy cop flick that was intended to be a vehicle for Jay Leno and Pat Morita.

        Abduction tried to get Taylor Lautner over as a leading man after Twilight.

        Poor Taylor Kitsch struck out three times in 2012 with John Carter, Battleship, and Savages.

        Haywire attempted to give Gina Carano some serious A-list rub by placing her alongside the likes of Michael Douglas and Ewan McGregor.

        A couple more musician examples: Joan Jett in Light of Day and Susannah Hoffs in The All-Nighter.

        Got any more?



          Post by eron on 7 hours ago
          8 hours ago agent817 said:
          I thought Dana Carvey had an earlier attempt with “Clean Slate,” which I thought was such an underrated movie.

          Ah yes, I forgot about that one. That was his post-Wayne’s World attempt at a starring vehicle.

          8 hours ago agent817 said:
          Also, Damon Wayans had a few other movies after “Mo’ Money” where he was the lead, like “Major Payne,” “Blankman” and “Bulletproof.” He was also among the ensemble cast of “The Great White Hype.”

          Yeah, I think Major Payne was when he really started hitting his stride.


  21. Jim carrey is bar none most successful act on the show however people neglect to remember Jamie foxx was on the show too. I am not a fan of foxx but I can admit hes currently doing amazing right now too.


  22. In Living Color literally hit people over the head

    For many growing up in the extremely white Midwest suburbs, engagement with black popular culture (or “African-American culture,” as was the preferred politically correct term in the late ’80s/early ’90s) was limited at best, save whatever rap albums and occasional Spike Lee film or other black cinema might wend their way through parental and cultural gatekeepers. At the beginning of the ’90s, Def Comedy Jam was still several years away from premiering on HBO, and network television—with the exception of The Cosby Show and a few others—was an inhospitable wasteland for minority programming. All of which are just a few of the reasons that, when In Living Color debuted on Fox in 1990, it felt like a minor revelation.

    With an avowedly black comic sensibility, a hip-hop aesthetic, and a deep stable of talent (Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, the Wayans family—all at the height of their young-and-hungry phase), the Fox sketch comedy series parlayed its “right place, right time” opportunity into an ongoing showcase for a comedic perspective all but absent in pop culture. The show proudly and unashamedly trafficked in edgy, working-class black humor that was anathema to the gentle, upscale standards set by, say, Family Matters. Characters were often cartoonishly broad, outsized parodies of black life, mocking the tropes and offensive stereotypes of the culture at large. It provided an outlet for voices that had been marginalized by the mainstream—an all-too-brief one, thanks to feuding with Fox network executives in the series’ back half, which led to diminishing ratings and intense frustration on the part of the Wayans, particularly show creators Damon and Keenan Ivory.

    But much like its more sanitized and largely white counterpart Saturday Night Live, when In Living Color hit upon a winning character, it pushed as hard as it could, mining it for gold before stripping it bare. And for iconic characters, it was hard to beat Homey D. Clown. A hardened convict who loathed his children’s entertainer work-release program as much as he hated the society that locked him up, Homey’s unconcealed dislike of children—along with his tendency to thwap them in the head at the slightest provocation—once again proved the dictum that people getting hit in the head is never not funny.

    The high point came in episode 12 of season two, the Christmas episode, which turned over more than a third of its running time to a special “Homey Claus” installment of the stolid, angry clown. What makes it work so well is the beyond-pointed contrast between the hyperactive enthusiasm of the kids in the scene and the muted, roiling disgust of Damon Wayans’ Homey. His movements are largely minimal, the better to highlight the sense of effrontery the man feels emanating from these demanding yuletide young ’uns. And the hits to the head—well, they just keep on coming. The show has had funnier sketches, and stronger overall episodes (Jim Carrey’s Red Sonja-esque warrior woman is a low point of this one), but nothing resonated in the consciousness of a young white boy in the Midwest suburbs quite as deeply as a pissed-off Santa, mercilessly scorning the children he’s meant to entertain. It feels like a metaphor for the Fox executives who earned the Wayans’ ire; if so, it’s fitting.


  23. Oh, it’s too bad “The Last Boy Scout” didn’t work out for Damon.
    I loved it (I actually missed my classmate’s birthday party to see it!) Call me immature, but I still think it’s a great movie, funny as hell, and the characters have great chemistry. Misogyny? Really? Uh… okay….


  24. Fox orders Lethal Weapon TV pilot, starring Damon Wayans Sr. as Roger Murtaugh

    Wayans will take on the Danny Glover role in the TV series inspired by hit movie franchise. No word yet on who will play Martin Riggs.


  25. Welcome to The Sandlercast! The Sandlercast follows Swanson and Kiorein as they watch the entire filmography of Adam Sandler and try to keep from spiraling into madness in the process. Join along every other week as the journey into darkness continues!

    On this week’s episode, Swanson and Kiorein watch the Adam Sandler and Damon Wayans “buddy” cop film, Bulletproof. They discuss the lack of any sense of fun in the movie, the copious amount of shootouts and the hilarious use of the soundtrack.

    Episode 8: Bulletproof


  26. He was in the movie colors wth robert duvall was that move a box office hit


  27. was colors box office hit


  28. Damon Wayans is going to be in the TV reboot of Lethal Weapon. Thoughts?


  29. Cast Of My Wife And Kids: How Much Are They Worth Now?

    Damon Wayans

    Estimated Net Worth: $35 Million. Damon Wayans is not only an actor but also a writer, producer, and director and has done very well for himself in the entertainment industry. He is one of 10 Wayans children, many of whom went on to have a lot of success in the entertainment industry thanks to their comedy prowess. Damon along with his brother created the hugely popular series In Living Color and was also the creator of My Wife and Kids and wrote a few of the episodes. For his acting he is best known for Beverly Hills Cop, The Last Boy Scout, Major Payne, Bulletproof, In Living Color, My Wife and Kids and is set to star in the anticipated TV series version of the hit Lethal Weapon franchise, taking on the role of Roger Murtaugh. His time in the industry has definitely paid off with an estimated net worth of $35 million.


  30. I don’t think it could, at least not on network TV. Even back then, some of their racier material pushed boundaries and even today, some of it is edgy. And with political correctness run amuck these days. so many will be triggered. It might have a better chance on late night TV cable, but it would still be risky


  31. Why Hollywood won’t cast The Wayans brothers anymore

    The Wayans Brothers were a fixture of TV and movies for decades. Keenan Ivory Wayans created and starred on Fox’s sketch comedy series In Living Color, and so did his siblings Damon, Kim, Shawn, and Marlon. When that series concluded, Keenan turned to directing Scary Movie and other hits, while Damon Wayans starred on hit TV shows like My Wife and Kids, and Shawn and Marlon became a successful film comedy duo. We don’t see as much of the Wayans family as we used to — here are a few reasons why that might be.


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