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Comedy Review: The Wayans Brothers

May 4, 2013 Theatre

NZ International Comedy Festival

Bruce Mason Centre
May 3, 2013

I went to The Wayans Brothers last night with low expectations, having accidentally watched most of one of the Scary Movie movies one lonely Sunday night a few years back, almost hypnotised by it in the same way I sometimes am by Seven Sharp.

I laughed a couple of times at warm up guy Wil Sylvince, smiled a few times during Marlon Wayans’ opening set, spent most of Shawn Wayans’ second half performance thinking about how long it was going to take me to get out of the Killarney Street carpark after the show.

I was absolutely in the minority. 1000 people had packed out the Bruce Mason Centre and I have rarely been to a comedy show where the laughter is so physical, almost a complete uprooting of the theatre at each big punchline, people throwing themselves against their seats, whole rows threatening to come unmoored.

Marlon’s set could best be summed up as ‘This is what X looks like’, where ‘X’ equals: dry heaving, drunk chicks, Marlon chasing white chicks like a moose, black people marching, gay people marching, ugly people who think they look like Marlon, a black man on a dollar bill.

I don’t know. I guess some of that stuff can be funny. It’s not especially clever, but is cleverness a pre-requisite of good comedy?

Shawn’s set, though, was often cruel and, worse, it was from the cruelty that some of his biggest laughs came. He did a long bit about meeting a deaf girl at a club. At one stage, the girl was tearing up the dance floor, singing along to this Biggie song. Thing was, Biggie wasn’t playing; Jay-Z was! Crazy, went the crowd.

It was low-hanging fruit of a particularly low hang, and it was mean.

He went on making fun of this deaf girl for a good few minutes, then said: “That’s my girlfriend now,” and that was when the crowd went completely crazy, a wild, braying laughter that challenged the structural integrity of the Bruce Mason Centre: Shawn Wayans – Shawn ma’fuckin’ Wayans! – boning a deaf girl?? Oh! Make it stop!

Later, he did a bit about calling his son Marlon, so if he turns out gay, he can disown him, act like he belongs to his brother.

Do comedians have a responsibility to be anything other than funny? On the way out of the show last night, I saw a boy no older than 13, and maybe as young as nine or ten and I found myself thinking that prejudice cloaked in humour is especially insidious.


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