Keenan Ivory Wayans

Actor, Comedian, & Film Maker

“I think a lot comes from having the experience of doing stand-up comedy. It allows you to figure out the psychology of an audience; what things are funny and not.”

Comedian and actor Keenen Ivory Wayans hosted his own late night show, The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show. His famous siblings are Damon, Shawn, Marlon and Kim.

Born June 8, 1958, in Harlem, New York, as the second of ten children. His parents, supermarket manager Howell Wayans and social worker Elvira Wayans, were strict Jehovah's Witnesses. Because of their faith, Wayans and his nine siblings were not allowed to associate with other children in their neighborhood. Instead, the family found ways to entertain each other ‐ usually through comedy.

Keenan Ivory Wayans

Like many young aspiring comedians of that era, Wayans was inspired by Richard Pryor, and decided at an early age that he wanted to become a comedian. Although he earned a scholarship to study engineering at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he left the school to pursue his dream of being an entertainer. While performing stand-up in the mid 1980s, Wayans met fellow comedian Eddie Murphy, and the duo collaborated to write Murphy's film, Eddie Murphy Raw (1987).

In 1988, Wayans released his first film, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, a parody of 1970s blaxploitation films. The movie received excellent critical reviews and earned Wayans the attentions of the FOX network, who gave him his own comedy show, In Living Color in 1990. The variety show was a ratings success, and won Wayans an Emmy after only a season on the air. The show also helped to launch the careers of other aspiring comedians such as Jim Carrey, Rosie Perez, Jamie Foxx, and David Alan Grier, in addition to his other siblings Damon, Shawn, Marlon and Kim.

In 1994, Wayans left the show to focus on his film career. He produced and starred as private investigator Andre Shame in the film A Low Down Dirty Shame (1994). He also appeared in 1996's Glimmer Man, and co- starred with Jon Voight in the film Most Wanted (1997).

Keenan Ivory Wayans

In the summer of 1997, Wayans returned to television to host and executive produce his own late night show, The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show. He also directed and appeared in the comedy Scary Movie (2000), which made Wayans the highest-grossing African-American director of all time. The film became such a box-office success that it led to the sequel, Scary Movie 2 (2001), which Wayans also directed. He also returned to the small screen with the sitcom My Wife and Kids, which ran on ABC from 2001 until 2005.

Recent film projects for Wayans include producing and directing credits on 2004's White Chicks, followed by its sequel White Chicks 2, which is rumored for release in 2011. He also appeared in another parody, Dance Flick, in 2009. Most recently, he was a judge for the eighth season of Last Comic Standing.

Wayans currently lives in Los Angeles.


Quick Facts

Birth Date:
June 8, 1958


  • Keenan Ivory Wayans
  • Keenan Ivory Wayans
  • Keenan Ivory Wayans

Similar Entries

Martin Lawrence Film & TV

Martin Lawrence

Martin Lawrence is an American stand-up comedian, actor, producer, talk show host, and writer. Lawrence came to fame during the 1990s, establishing a Hollywood career as a leading actor, most notably in the Fox sitcom Martin and films like House Party, Boomerang, and Bad Boys.

Read More
Moms Mabley Arts

Moms Mabley

Loretta Aiken, known by her stage name Jackie “Moms” Mabley, was an American standup comedian. A veteran of the Chitlin’ Circuit of African-American vaudeville, she later appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Read More
Bernie Mac Arts

Bernie Mac

Bernard McCullough, better known by his stage name Bernie Mac, was an American comedian, actor, and voice actor. Born and raised on Chicago's South Side, Mac gained popularity as a stand-up comedian.

Read More
Paul Mooney Arts

Paul Mooney

Paul Gladney, better known by the stage name Paul Mooney, is an American comedian, writer, social critic, and television and film actor. He is best known for his appearances on Chappelle's Show and as a writer for comedian Richard Pryor.

Read More
Eddie Murphy Film & TV

Eddie Murphy

Edward Murphy is an American actor, comedian, and singer. Murphy was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984. He has worked as a stand-up comedian and was ranked No. 10 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.

Read More
John Witherspoon Arts

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon is an American comedian and actor who has performed in many television shows and films. Best known for his role in the Friday series, Witherspoon has also starred in films such as Hollywood Shuffle (1987), Boomerang (1992) and Vampire In Brooklyn (1995).

Read More