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Marlon Wayans Reflects On The Anniversary of ‘The Wayans Bros.’ & ‘Don’t Be A Menace’

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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.”

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24 years ago today the wayans bros show premiered. We were 21 & 23 year 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 Friends in many markets including Atlanta. Never got the respect to do a final episode after a five season run. But what we did get was the respect and love from our audience. We learned to write and produce a successful television show. We got to develop as young artist on a weekly basis in front of the world. 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. 25 years later we are still doing it. Still growing. Still evolving. And still making people laugh. Wayans Bros was a dream we had as young boys watching abbot and Costello and the Honeymooners every night in our bedroom. I loved every moment of doing that show. I thank all my friends and writers THAT WORKED ON THE SHOW. All the executives at WB. i thank my cast especially @johnnywitherspoon Pops who still and will always be pops to me. And most of all my hero, my big brother and my partner Shawn. We made a classic. Love ALL of the fans that supported and forgive all those that did not. It’s all love and a part of the process. I’m just glad 24 years later y’all still laughing. And we still need a final episode #wayansbros #wayans #history

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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.”

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23 years ago DON’T BE A MENACE… opened in theatres during a snow storm and STILL managed to open to 12.5 million dollars. 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. So much more happened afterwards that one day we will write in a book. But when we filmed the movie our first cut was trash. Shawn and I were depressed and my big bro put us back to work. We wrote damn near a whole new movie and in 7 days we shot the new pages which eventually would be come the main set pieces that is the movie DON’T BE A MENACE. 23 years later people still watching this movie and still laughing. And we Shawn and I learned 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 🙏🏽

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XOXO
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