The comic actor details the nuts and bolts necessary to make a comedy as broad as "Fifty Shades of Black."

50 shades art

Keep firing jokes. That has been Marlon Wayans’ unspoken motto in the movie parodies Scary Movie and A Haunted House, and he doesn’t veer from it in Fifty Shades of Black, which is in theaters today. In our interview, he talks about writing pages of jokes after first watching the film’s inspiration, Fifty Shades of Grey, then writing more when he watched it again, and that sort of joke density has been his trademark, along with the broadness of his humor.

That humor has never been to everybody's tastes, and that doesn't change for Fifty Shades of Black. Scott Tobias shows the movie little love in his review for Variety, but he writes, "clever little ironies are in short supply in the movie, but the see-what-sticks approach does yield a couple of hits for every hundred misses." Still, Wayans knows his audience--something he talks about in our conversation--and the excitement of fans on Wayans' Twitter page is as palpable as the disdain in Tobias' review.

As a member of the Wayans family, Marlon has grown up around film. Keenan Ivory Wayans’ I’m Gonna Git You Sucka satirized blaxploitation films in 1988 and helped show the way for the next breed of black independent filmmakers. Because of that background and his own in movies, Marlon thought not just about jokes in Fifty Shades of Black but about how to make the movie stand as a whole and not just a series of bits. 

Last week, Wayans was in New Orleans to do a stand-up comedy show at the Orpheum, and since he was also on a press tour that took him to The Daily Show, The Tonight Show and The Wendy Williams Show among others, he squeezed a few additional interviews into a few open hours he had that Friday morning. We talked in a lounge area at the top of the Orpheum while workmen finalized what looked like Carnival-related decorations for the stage. They’re occasionally very audible in this conversation, where Wayans thinks very seriously about how to be very silly.