Few have bigger claims to being the first family of American comedy than the Wayans.
Saturday at Auburn Public Theater, the family that produced Damon, Marlon, Keenen Ivory and more will be represented by one of its newest, rising faces: Chaunté Wayans.
A standup comedian for a few years, Wayans actually avoided comedy early in her adult life, she said in a Wednesday interview. She instead went to work on the other side of the camera for productions such as her uncles' movie "Scary Movie 2" and ABC show "My Wife and Kids."
It wasn't until Chaunté saw her cousin Damon Wayans Jr. ("Happy Endings," "New Girl") perform on stage that she got the standup bug. That night, she said, she went to bed with two jokes in her head — one about a woman president, the other about how she can't tell her male friends about her relationships with women because they only want to hear about the sex.
Wayans would take her jokes to an open mic night, which then invited her back. Her standup career may have outwardly began that day, but being a Wayans, it was in the works for much longer, she said.
"It was just like a comedy camp from day one," she said of her family. "If you're not funny, you might as well change your name."
Wayans has gone on to perform with Russell Peters, Katt Williams, David Alan Grier and her uncles, who hosted the April 2012 Hot 97 April Fools' Day Comedy Show at Madison Square Garden where Chaunte performed. She's also appeared in Nick Cannon's MTV2 show "Wild 'N Out" and TLC's "Trading Spaces."
On the stage today, Wayans' sets are similar to those first two jokes of hers. As a lesbian, she's able to see things from both male and female perspectives, she said, so she humorously shares the differences between them with audiences. She also touches on her struggle with alcohol, politics and the pressure of having a last name like Wayans.
Even as her performing career takes off, it's a pressure she still feels, she said.
"My main focus is working on my standup special, getting my hour going, developing my own projects," she said. "Like my uncle Keenen did it."