Damon Wayans didn't let his scary health news get him down. When the comedian was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February, he decided to make some major lifestyle changes.
"You know, fear is a great motivation," he says. "The doctors had me taking 16 units of insulin with every meal … but I got off of the needles in 30 days."
These days, Wayans, known for playing hilarious characters such as Homey the Clown and Anton Jackson on "In Living Color" and for starring in movies such as "Major Payne" and "The Last Boy Scout," eats a "caveman diet" consisting mostly of meat and vegetables.
The 53-year-old father of four will talk about his health scare, what it's like to be single and his childhood Nov. 8-10 at the Fort Lauderdale Improv.
When did you realize you'd made it big as a comedian?
The funny thing is, I never got in the business to be a star. I got in it to be funny and as therapy, as a way for me to talk about my life and what I was going through. The first time I realized people knew who I was when I was working in the mailroom at Paramount Pictures, making about $12 an hour. It was right after "Beverly Hills Cop" came out and I played the Banana Man, a gay guy, and Eddie Murphy asked me for a couple of bananas to stick in a car's tailpipe. That got a huge laugh. I had to quit my [mailroom] job, because everyone wanted me to be the banana guy.
You come from a huge family. When you have fights or disagreements, how do you keep the peace?
When I was young and I would fight with my brother Keenan [Ivory Wayans], my mother would say, "Either you say sorry or kiss your brother on the mouth." That's the last thing as a little kid I wanted to do, especially if he was in the wrong. But it taught us quickly: You don't kiss on the mouth — you kiss with your mouth and apologize. We were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses, and there's this saying, "Do not let the sun set with you in a provoked state." To this day, we have disagreements, but we don't have any real beef. We don't walk out of the door mad. We say, "I love you," because that always leaves the door open to resolving things.
Damon Wayans will perform 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, Nov.8; 7 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov.9; and 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Fort Lauderdale Improv, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5700 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. Tickets cost $35. Go to Ftl.Improv.com.