Marlon Wayans has made a career out of making people laugh, but when it’s time for business, he’s nothing but serious. Known for his roles in movies like “White Chicks” and the “Scary Movie” franchise, Wayans’ film projects kill it at the box office — grossing $736 million domestically. The veteran actor, producer, comedian, writer and film director even has a new NBC comedy series set to make its debut in 2017. We chatted with Wayans ahead of his Punchline Philly shows this week to talk politics, working on his birthday and even get some advice for aspiring performers.
How does it feel to perform in Philly?
I love Philly. I performed there one other time and the Philly crowd was dope. They were keeping it real and it was fun. A lot of the great comedians come out of Philly and it has a lot of history. I am excited to spend some time there. It’s one of my favorite cities.
Do you have any favorite places to visit when you come here?
I like eating at all the restaurants. Del Frisco’s is great. I got to stop and get a Philly cheesesteak even though I don’t eat bread. [laughs]
So we just had the DNC here. Did you watch it at all?
I got to watch parts of it. I enjoyed it a lot better than the RNC. Literally live on two different planets. Two completely different agendas. It was crazy. I have never seen a country so divided. It’s infuriating. With so much divisiveness going on, I think that it’s time to come together.
Yeah. There is a lot of volatility going on.
That’s at the RNC. One of the best speeches at the DNC about Donald Trump was by a foreigner [Khizr Khan] who lost his son in the war. I thought that was awesome.
Are you going to use any of the DNC or RNC moments in your comedy routine?
I don’t know, we will see. I’m a weird guy.
Do you stick to the same routine or do you improvise?
I improvise a lot. I get myself a structure and play with the structure.
Where did you get your start and an entertainer?
I have been training for a long time. Since second grade I knew I wanted to do this, and from there just working, working, working and auditioning. Started to go on auditions in high school so I could get commercials. Decided to go to college, turned down some movies and then I got a movie I really wanted and went, “Alright. Time to do it.”
That is amazing. Since second grade you knew what you wanted to do.
Yeah. My brother was actually doing it before me. I was like, “Wow, you actually turned your dreams into your reality.”
Now you have a new show debuting in January on NBC. What can you tell us about it?
Yeah, it’s called “Marlon” and basically it is based on my life as a dad. There is this one time a magazine asked my kids, “What is one word you would use to describe your dad?” They looked at each other and I thought they were going to say loving and they said, “inappropriate.” They’re right though. I am just a big kid. I like to have fun. [Laughs]
How do you keep it all together? You have a family, you’re always on the road. How do you stay centered?
Through work. There is not a lot ot of time to myself like my birthday. I did three shows on my birthday. There is only so much time I can party. I had two more shows the next day. I just stay busy. I love my work so much it just keeps me balanced in life.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to an aspiring comedian or actor?
To work. Not everyone is going to be famous right away. Don’t be famous — be good and then fame will come. Preparation, a lot of hard work and opportunity equals success, and don’t quit because quitting is failure. It’s a journey and only God knows your time — and you gotta do the work.
Marlon Wayans performs at Punchline Philly Thursday, Aug.4 through Saturday, Aug. 6.