Comedian and actor Marlon Wayans heads to Detroit's Music Hall

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

He's been on our television and movie screens for the past three decades solid, and now actor Marlon Wayans will bring his stand-up comedy routine to the stage of Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts this week. 

Wayans, 49, is part of a talented family and has starred with his brother Shawn Wayans in many projects.  Marlon has also done some dramatic film roles, including 2000's "Requiem for a Dream" and more recently as Aretha Franklin's ex-husband Ted White in the 2021 biopic "Respect."

Comedian and actor Marlon Wayans performs stand-up at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 21.

Wayans said working on "Respect" with Jennifer Hudson in the role as Franklin was "like going to church."

"Because the woman sang live. Every time you see her singing (in the movie) she's singing live," Wayans told The Detroit News. "I found that to be incredible that she could pull that off, take after take after take, and hit the mark and kill it."

Wayans said to prepare for his role, he didn't have a lot to work with to capture White's demeanor aside from an old TV news interview. 

"We're so different, because I've never hit a woman. I don't know what that is," he said. "So I had to really dig down deep and go, what kind of man would hit a woman? A damaged man. Damaged people are damaged people and I know Aretha's no fool, and no woman is no fool."

He said with his role as White his place wasn't to judge anyone, but to honor Franklin. 

"I wanted to play the complexities of a character that was charming, and that's how he landed her, and his intentions were good, but at the same time he's so damaged that when she starts being successful, he can't take it and he unravels."

Marc Maron, Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Hudson in "Respect."

In addition to the release of "Respect" in August, Wayans also released a new stand-up special on HBO Max titled "You Know What It Is." Filmed outdoors in Miami, he is high energy through the whole hour, zipping from crass stand-up to supportive father. 

"I try to make light of all the dark things in my life," he says of his on-stage material. "I love that people can come to my show and not feel victimized and not feel like I'm going to talk about a certain sect of people. I talk about me. Just watch me go through therapy."

He said touring during a pandemic can cause anxiety — some of his recent dates had him traveling the country coast to coast, including some shows in Hawaii — but he has a job to do. 

"I keep it safe, I'm vaccinated," he said, adding that he's recently recovered from a bout of COVID-19 in the fall. "I just think of it like any other thing, you know. You gotta be cautious, but I got a job to do and that's make people laugh and we all need that right now. And it's been great, the crowds have been great, the laughs have been great."

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Marlon Wayans

8 p.m. Fri.

Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts

350 Madison, Detroit 

(313) 887-8500

Tickets start at $50