Keenen Ivory Wayans knows funny when he sees it: When he was just in his 30s, his sketch show “In Living Color” helped launch not only his own career, but that of Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Lopez — to name just a few.
But he ‘fessed up to rejecting others on their way up the ladder, including Chris Rock, John Leguizamo and Martin Lawrence.
“I missed a few!” he laughed.
“Honestly, I feel like I was one of the luckiest guys in the world because I got to work with so many amazing people early on in their career, and then I get credit for it now,” he told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Thursday.
Win some, lose some. But as a judge on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” Wayans is clearly hoping to win one: He, Roseanne Barr and Russell Peters are on the hunt for the funniest comic in America, which is a challenge. “I try to give (the comics) a little bit of objective advice,” he said. “Roseanne is probably much harsher than I am and Russell is the lighter side.”
Wayans grew up surrounded by funny people — many of his siblings including Damon, Kim, and Shawn all went on to their own comedy careers — but it appears much of the fuel for his laughs today comes from having his own brood.
“I have five kids now and they are teenagers, so you know when you have teenagers you don’t really have kids; you’ve just got people in your house,” he chuckled. “Teenagers are like squatters; they think because they live there they act like they actually own something.”
“Last Comic Standing” returns on May 22 at 9 p.m.