Shawn Wayans Recalls Robin Harris Roasting Him For Getting Booed Off Stage (Video)
Since his earliest days as DJ SW-1 on In Living Color, Shawn Wayans was immersed in entertainment business at a young age. Still in his teens when older brothers Keenen Ivory and Damon Wayans secured the FOX sketch comedy show, Shawn would eventually leave the DJ booth to become part of the legendary cast which included Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, Jamie Foxx, Kim Coles, and others.
As In Living Color celebrates the 27th anniversary of its premiere next month, Shawn’s career has exploded following the family’s 1993 exit from its own show. Wayans has written and produced the highly successful Scary Movie spoof franchise, launched a longtime series with brother Marlon, and maintained a prominent acting career (in many of his own works). Like his aforementioned older brothers, Shawn also began in stand-up.
While speaking with HOT 97’s Nessa, he recalls the earliest days on stage before a live, sometimes hostile audience. Asked if he ever got booed off stage (10:20), the Manhattan native (and second youngest of 10 children) begins with a laugh. “You don’t forget two things: getting booed, and your first time in the sack. And sometimes…you get booed your first time in the sack. You might not hear the boo, but it’s [there]; you’re getting booed…especially for us boys. Girls never get booed. You can’t get booed; you’re un-boo-able,” riffs Shawn. “I got booed, and Robin Harris, a legendary comedian…R.I.P…he kicked my ass, after I get booed. He did another eight minutes at how bad I was and how funny the boo was. It was the most embarrassing moments of my life. But it made me a better comedian. It was all fun.” Both Harris and Shawn Wayans had cameos in 1988’s I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, a film by Keenen Ivory.
For Wayans, this incident predates his In Living Color days, as Robin Harris died of heart attack in March of 1990. The stand-up icon and actor from Do The Right Thing and Harlem Nights had mentored young Shawn. “I loved Robin Harris; he was like a mentor to me. He was good to all the young comedians coming up. He used to sit us all down, and buy us sodas and spit game, and tell us how the game was and how to navigate yourself through it, and work hard and sometimes don’t even do stand-up. [Instead, he suggested we] take in life and let your pockets fill up with something to say and then go back to it. He taught us a lot of tricks; he was a great guy. But that night, he whooped my ass.”
“I’d only been doing it probably like a year. That’s like no time in stand-up [comedy]. It was a place called the Comedy Act Theater. It was his club.” The Los Angeles venue (which re-opened in 2008) is detailed by Shawn as being filled by a tough crowd. “It was all urban…and they want to hear him. If you ain’t him, and you ain’t bringin’ it like him, then stay your ass at home. It was like the Apollo’s cousin. But it was great. I wouldn’t change a thing, it just made me a better comedian.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Shawn Wayans details his music tastes as including A Tribe Called Quest and Nice & Smooth, and discusses his writing and stand-up comedy rituals.