Marlon Wayans (‘God Loves Me,’ ‘The Daily Show’): ‘My greatest hope’ is that Will, Jada and Chris all heal after the slap [Exclusive Video Interview]

“My greatest hope would be that I could get Will, Jada and Chris to all come to a screening of ‘God Loves Me’ and hope that they all laugh and enjoy, and afterwards we just go have a drink, or go have some tea and all heal. Because I think that was the purpose of ‘God Loves Me,'” says Marlon Wayans about his 2023 HBO Max comedy special, which weaves personal stories around the infamous 2022 Oscars incident where Will Smith slapped Chris Rock over a joke told about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett. Watch our exclusive video interview with Wayans above.

Wayans knew there was a deeper story to be told “as soon as it happened.” He remembers performing in Oxnard at “‘Levity Live,’ and I just had to talk about it. And I started out, I had just five minutes of thoughts, and by the end of the weekend I had 20 minutes of solid jokes.” It evolved from there, and before long he realized, “I think I have a whole hour on this.” And the full special came together lightning fast: “So the slap happened March 27. By August 7 I had filmed the special in Atlanta,” which is virtually “unheard of” since such comedy specials tend to take a year or two to complete.

Wayans also had to think fast when he hosted a week of shows on “The Daily Show,” which has been rotating through guest hosts since regular host Trevor Noah left the series late last year. “I’m not used to that type of medium. And I guess that’s why I did it … I think that it’s important to challenge yourself as an artist.” He was especially impressed by the “amazing” writing team, who have “a show to do no matter what happens. Four o’clock, five o’clock, you got a show to do … When I say it’s a well-oiled machine, it’s a well-oiled machine.”

When he was younger, Wayans “might have tried to make ‘The Daily Show’ ‘The Marlon Show,’ and I think that’s a mistake. So when I walked in I said I’m gonna be Marlon on ‘The Daily Show.'” He made himself part of the fabric of the show: “I didn’t wanna stand out. I just wanted to stand in … You have to walk in there humble, and you have to be willing to put yourself aside and join the crew. And that’s what I did.”

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