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Damon Wayans performs at Helium Comedy Club

Aug 27, 2015 | Entertainment

By Lauren Kirchmyer

Damon Wayans has performed in comedy clubs, on television shows and in movies … but never has he performed in Buffalo. Thanks to Helium Comedy Club, Wayans visited the “City of Good Neighbors” to perform six stand up shows late August.



How does your stand up help you become a character while doing a movie or TV show?

When you’re doing stand up you have a laugh meter in your head. When you say something, you know how funny it’s going to be when it actually plays itself back. It gives yourself an advantage over other people who really don’t know how to make a funny line funnier because they don’t have that laugh meter in their head.

Do you prefer being yourself on stage or being someone else on camera?

It depends on who that someone else on camera is but what I love about stand up is there is no second take. If that joke don’t work, you have to move onto the next joke. You can’t yell “Cut, let’s just try it again.”

What do you do in a situation where you think something is funny but no one laughs at it? That sounds terrifying.

I have to laugh at it and keep moving. I don’t really process it as if I did wrong. I’m not telling jokes, I’m telling stories. Sometimes within stories there are jokes and punchlines but for the most part I’m telling stories. Even if people aren’t laughing, they’re intrigued by storytelling. Sometimes silence is good. It’s when they boo that you have to worry.

How much of your stand up is scripted and how much is improvised?

I improvise within a structure. A lot of what I’m doing is telling stories about family, my life, my hopes, fears, dreams. I don’t really go in on people too much but people are making some really stupid choices so I’ll talk a little bit about that.

You have many family members who have found success in the entertainment industry. Do they inspire you when it comes to your creativity and pushing further?

Not really. They encourage, they don’t inspire. Everybody is looking to be funny but in their own right. It’s basically every man for himself. They encourage you. They see you doing a joke and say “Hey, why don’t you try this?” because they know these stories. They contribute on that level but for the most part nobody holds someone else’s hand. It has to be something you feel compelled to do. I don’t call my son [Damon Wayans Jr.] up and say “Hey, you really should get up on stage.” He gets on stage because he has to do it and go through the process. You can’t cheat the process. The only way to get better is by going on stage and be the best you can.

What is your favorite thing about being on stage?

It’s just gratification, the validation that I’m funny. I really believe that when I do stand up I’m probably the closest me that I can be. I really feel like that’s when I’m smiling and I’m actually happy to be alive, otherwise I’m just sitting around thinking about all the things that are wrong in life.

What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?

Get on stage, take chances, repeat. Get on stage and talk about the things that make you laugh. In the beginning you might not get laughs, but you have to understand the process. You have to know you’re going to be unfunny until you get funny no matter how funny you are because you have to get used to standing in front of people who you feel want to see you fail and make them laugh.

Lauren Kirchmyer is the entertainment reporter for Buffalo Scoop. If you have a story idea, please email her at lk********@gm***.com.

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