It’s hard to believe that it’s been as long as 23 years since the release of ‘The Wayans Bros.’ and ‘Don’t Be A Menace’, both of which could easily be rated as must-haves to add to your black sitcom and movie collection.
Marlon Wayans recently took to Instagram to reflect on the history of both projects and thanked fans for supporting him and his brother Shawn Wayans’ vision. He addresses being “skewered by critics, attacked by elders and often attacked by groups.” Marlon also reveals that ‘The Wayans Bros.’ show never received credit for being the premiere show of the WB network and beating NBC’s #1 hit show ‘Friends’ in many markets, including Atlanta.
“24 years ago today, The Wayans Bros. show premiered,” said Marlon. “We were 21 and 23 years old kids from the projects of Manhattan that created, exec produced, and starred in our very own sitcom. We were fearless, young, crazy, funny, physical, edgy, and free. We got skewered by critics, attacked by elders and often attacked by groups. Shawn and I never caved. We kept it “real.” We did it for the audience. They never credited us with being the premiere show of the WB network. Never gave us credit for often beating NBC’s #1 hit show Friends in many markets, including Atlanta. Never got the respect to do a final episode after a five-season run.”
‘The Wayans Bros.’ show premiered in 1995 and starred Marlon and Shawn Wayans, John Witherspoon, Anna Maria Horsford, Paula Jai Parker, Lela Rochon, and more. It’s a comedic sitcom that revolved around the everyday lives of brothers, Shawn and Marlon. Shawn owned a local newsstand, where he and his brother Marlon worked on a daily basis.
Marlon also says that through their work on the show, he and Shawn were able to learn what it takes to write and produce a successful television show.
“We got to develop as young artists on a weekly basis in front of the world,” he wrote. “We learned the skill set to make us movie stars. And most of all we made a classic tv show that still runs and still makes people laugh until this day.”
In the year that followed the release of ‘The Wayans Bros’. show, Shawn and Marlon released their first film, a hood-classic comedy titled ‘Don’t Be A Menace’. It’s a parody of several classic black films, including ‘Boyz n the Hood’, ‘South Central’, ‘Menace II Society’, ‘Higher Learning’ and ‘Juice’.
“23 years ago, Don’t Be A Menace opened in theaters during a snowstorm and STILL managed to open to 12.5 million dollars,” Marlon writes. “Our first movie. Our baby. We gathered the jokes, figured out the characters and set pieces. Then, I went off to do Above The Rim to pay our bills while Shawn and crazy Phil write the first pass. When I returned, we did 19 more drafts under the supervision of the GOAT Keenen Ivory Wayans.”
Marlon goes on to reveal how unsuccessful their first cut of the movie was but says Keenen put them back work. After writing what Marlon describes as “damn near a whole new movie,” they would go on to shoot the new cut and that would become the movie we know and love as ‘Don’t Be A Menace’.
Marlon offers up a few words of encouragement to never give up.
“All the work you do is practice for the more work you’ll have to do. And yes, I’m still working, practicing for the more work I will have to do to become the beast I’m trying to be. Thank you Ivory.”
Marlon WayansShawn Wayans