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Damon Wayans - Biography


Comedian Damon Wayans
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images


September 4, 1960

Damon Wayans Overview:

As just one member of the Wayans family dynasty of talent, it couldn't have been easy for Damon Wayans to distinguish himself. And, yet, after working consistently throughout the '80s as a stand-up and actor, that's exactly what Wayans had done by the 1990s -- he became a breakout star on In Living Color, launched a successful film career and starred in his own long-running family sitcom on ABC. It's one thing to be one of the most famous comedy stars of the 1990s; it's another thing entirely to be (arguably) that most famous Wayans.

Quick Damon Wayans Facts:

  • Damon Wayans was born and raised in New York City, New York, to a family of 10 kids.
  • He began performing stand-up comedy in 1982 at age 22.
  • He was hired as a featured player on Saturday Night Live during the 1985-86 season, but was fired that season after doing a sketch differently on the air than in rehearsal.
  • His first hour-long stand-up comedy special, Damon Wayans: The Last Stand, debuted on HBO in 1990.
  • Also in 1990, Wayans joined the cast of his brother Keenan's sketch comedy show In Living Color, where he remained for three seasons.
  • Wayans starred on his own ABC sitcom, My Wife and Kids, beginning in 2001. The show aired for five seasons before ending in 2005.

Damon Wayans on In Living Color:

In 1990, Damon Wayans was instrumental in helping launch his brother Keenan Ivory Wayans' new sketch comedy series In Living Color on the still-young Fox network. Along with Jim Carrey, Wayans was one of the breakout stars of the show, thanks to a large stable of characters that quickly became audience favorites. Some of Wayans best-known characters included:

  • Homey the Clown, a grouchy ex-con turned childrens' party entertainer known for whacking kids with a sock.
  • Hey Mon - The head of a Jamaican family with a large number of jobs.
  • Handi Man - A politically incorrect disabled superhero.
  • Blaine Edwards - Half of the "Men On..." team; along with David Alan Grier, Wayans played a flamboyant critic who reviewed things with his signature "two thumbs up" seal of approval.
  • Head Detective - A private detective who is literally just a head with feet.
  • Oswald Bates - A prison inmate who's fond of using large words of which he clearly does not understand the meaning.
  • Anton Jackson - A homeless man who spouts off philosophy.

Wayans left the show after three seasons with the cast to pursue his film career, but would return for guest spots from time to time.

Select Damon Wayans Filmography:

  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  • Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
  • The Last Boy Scout (1991)
  • Mo' Money (1992)
  • Blankman (1994)
  • Major Payne (1995)
  • Bulletproof (1996)
  • Bamboozled (2000)

Additional Damon Wayans Facts:

  • He was born with a club foot.
  • Damon Wayans' son, Damon Wayans Jr., is also a successful comedy star, with roles in movies like Dance Flick and The Other Guys and on the TV series Happy Endings.
  • Wayans produced his own animated series for the WB in 1996 called Waynehead, loosely based on his own childhood. It lasted only one season on the air.
  • Prior to the success of My Wife and Kids, Wayans had his own sitcom, Damon, that aired on Fox in 1998. Wayans and co-star David Alan Grier played a pair of Chicago detectives. The show was canceled after just 11 episodes.
  • In 2006, Wayans created a sketch comedy series for Showtime called The Underground, also starring his son. It was designed to be raunchier and edgier than any sketch comedy before it, but only lasted a few months before being pulled from the schedule.
  • Wayans hosted the BET Awards in 2006.
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