Marlon Wayans says he quit stand-up for 20 years after Chris Rock heckled him

Imagine having one of the most well-known stand-up comedians of all time tell you you're not funny.


It was not the last laugh Marlon Wayans failed to get while performing stand-up comedy in front of Chris Rock — it was the first.

Wayans says he quit stand-up comedy for 20 years because Rock once heckled him during his act.

“You know what made me quit stand-up?” he said Tuesday on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” “I was doing it when I was like 18, 19, and then one day Chris Rock heckled me. And I quit stand-up for 20 years.”

Wayans, 49, said he was working through some material when Rock, considered one of the best comedians of all time, let him have it.

“I was onstage, and you know how you’re trying to find it, right?” Wayans said. “And I was onstage, and I was like, ‘So, what else is up?’ He goes, ‘How about some jokes?’ And I didn’t know who it was. All I kept hearing was his evil laugh. ‘How about being funny? How about that?’ And I swear I quit stand-up for like 20 years.”

Marlon Wayans and Chris Rock during the 2007 Los Angeles premiere of "Norbit" in Westwood, California.E. Charbonneau / WireImage

Wayans, who stars in the new Aretha Franklin biopic, "Respect," eventually got back into stand-up, though. His new special, “Marlon Wayans: You Know What It Is,” is available Aug. 19 on HBO Max.

“I caught the bug,” he said.

“I started doing stand-up 12 years ago, and I just haven’t stopped,” he added.

Wayans, of course, comes from a comedic family, which includes brothers Damon, Shawn and Keenen Ivory and sister Kim. He pointed out he was the youngest of everyone in his family and other contemporaries in the stand-up community, including Rock and Eddie Murphy, so he plans to use that to his advantage after they "hazed" him in his early years.

“I’m going to pay them back because they’re all getting old,” he said. “When about 10 years, 12 years from now, when Chris is old and senile and he’s onstage trying to find it, I’m like, ‘How about some jokes, you Black, skinny bastard? Where are the jokes? Look in your Pamper.’”