Chaunte Wayans Talks Wayans Comedy Dynasty, Gay Marriage, Jay Z, Famous Funerals
In this candid conversation with entertainment journalist and podcaster, Allison Kugel for the newest episode of the Allison Interviews podcast, comedian Chaunté Wayans opens up about growing up with her uncles Keenen, Damon, Shawn and Marlon Wayans, and her Aunt Kim Wayans. Chaunté recounts how the Wayans family writes and develops their comedy as a team, and how she forged her own path through two decades of paying her dues in stand up as an LGBTQ comedian.
Wayans is currently on Marlon Wayans Presents: The Headliners on HBO Max as the sole LGBTQ performer. This comes on the heels of her critically acclaimed performance on Netflix Is A Joke’s Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready produced by Wanda Sykes. In this intimate and revealing interview, Chaunté talks the Wayans family comedy dynasty, gay marriage, Jay Z, famous funerals, and more.
On wanting a refund if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns gay marriage:
“I’m getting married. I proposed to my girlfriend, and as we are doing all this stuff and I’m paying for the wedding, now they might take away gay rights. They are already trying to take away abortion. They announced it. But as crazy as that sounds, as mad as I should be, I take something like that and say, ‘Damn! I could save $10,000-$15,000 if they just cut this bill now.’ (laugh) As much as I want to get married and I love my fiancée, that’s my creative process for comedy, where I say, ‘This is messed up, but I’m also getting married in August and gay marriage has been legal for how many years? I should have done this sooner, but I spent money on a ring. I have ten credit cards out on a ring, and now I have to pay for a wedding for Biden to possibly take all of this away. I’m going to assemble a stimulus package for my marriage.’”
On never wanting to meet Jay Z:
“I was a big fan and I still am a big fan of Jay Z. I had the opportunity to meet Jay Z and Beyonce when they first got together, through my Uncle Damon [Wayans]. However, from past interactions I’ve had, I said, ‘I don’t want to meet him, because if he’s an A-hole then…’ You know what I mean? I want to see him like I can never touch him.”
On dealing with paparazzi and autograph seekers at a Wayans family funeral:
“One of my great aunts passed away. My Uncle Marlon [Wayans] and I just finished this show and we get off the plane and we get to the funeral, and there are two dudes standing outside in their shorts holding pictures and things for [my family] to sign. We have no idea who these people are, but they are here getting autographs at our great aunt’s funeral. We go into the funeral, and you would think seeing all these older church lady types that they would know nothing about technology. Towards the end of the funeral, every old person in there pulls out their phone to do snapchats and selfies with my family. Mind you, they were so involved with taking pictures of my family that they left my dead great aunt in the funeral home, while we are all crying. These are the things that happen. That is why you have to start to pay attention to certain things (laughing), because that is how you find comedy.”
On the Wayans formula for writing jokes:
“When I started doing comedy, I went to Shawn (Wayans) first. I was on tour with Shawn and he sat me down to show me how to develop a joke, and we watched certain specials together. Or at 3am I would call one of them and say, ‘I did this joke and I don’t know how it worked.’ There was a structure to writing jokes, and they were all very supportive and always answered the phone. The structure comes from them saying, ‘keep going.’ If my family thinks something is funny, you will hear ten minutes of them trying to give you jokes off of what you just said, to the point where you’re like, ‘Hey man, hold on and let me go get a recorder (laugh) or let me right some of this down.’ The Wayans formula is, once you get a joke in, they can’t stop going with it. That’s the real formula.”
The Wayans annual family tradition:
“Probably playing baseball for the Fourth of July, but everybody is old now (laugh). That is the one thing that we try to do is get together and see the grandkids. We get together and play baseball or dodgeball, but we can’t all move the same as we used to.”
On the best advice she’s ever received:
“The best advice I ever received was ‘Believe in yourself, trust yourself. Everybody is dealing with some type of insecurity, some type of fear. Just know that you are not alone.’ I’ve gotten that advice from my uncle Damon [Wayans] and my Uncle Keenen [Wayans]. ‘Don’t be afraid, because we are all afraid in some type of way.’”
On hoping to write and direct a project for her famous family before they retire:
“Funny thing is, I’m working on something right now where I would love my aunt Kim [Wayans] to be my actual aunt on the show. There are a few things I’m always keeping them in mind for. I also feel like they have all done so much that sometimes I think, ‘I hope I get them while they are still in this business.’”
About Journalist and Podcast Host Allison Kugel Allison Kugel is a veteran entertainment journalist with more than three hundred long form celebrity and newsmaker interviews published and syndicated, worldwide. She is author of the memoir, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record, and host of the new podcast, Allison Interviews, where listeners can tune in to hear the full conversations behind Allison’s print interviews. Watch and embed the entire interview video with Chaunté Wayans @YouTube. Listen to the audio podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Follow Allison Kugel on Instagram @theallisonkugel and at AllisonInterviews.com.