Happy Dad: Damon Wayans Talks About Jr.'s Hit Sitcom, His Own Pilot, and TV's Reality Illness

Damon Wayans Jr. brings top comedic chops to his role as Brad on ABC’s Happy Endings (Wednesdays at 10/9c) — no surprise given the very funny family tree from which he fell. So when the producers of the freshman comedy got wind that Damon Wayans Sr. was game to return to the small screen via his son’s show, they immediately got to work breaking Brad’s dad.

Here, the alum of such TV fare as In Living Color, My Wife and Kids and The Underground previews his Happy father’s day, shares a peek at his CBS comedy pilot, and weighs in on what’s wrong with TV today.

TVLINE | Being a longtime fan, from your In Living Color days, I’m excited to speak to you. I think your son has attached himself to a hit.
Oh, thank you for saying that. I hope it goes on for… forever!

TVLINE | The resemblance between you two is extremely uncanny.
Oh, he’s a lot more handsome than I ever was. He’s the “new and improved” model.

TVLINE | You’ve spent recent years almost exclusively writing and producing. Why’d you decide to go back on camera for this?
It’s my son! The producers asked him if he thought I would do it, he and I had a conversation, and I told him I’d love to. I want to see him successful, and anything I can do to contribute to that….

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TVLINE | Tell us about Brad’s dad.
Brad’s dad is mad and bad, and a bit sad…. [Laughs] And he’s a bit of a cad! No, he’s a guy with a strong military background who was never able to tell his son that he loved him. After he has a medical scare, he decides it’s time, but he just can’t bring himself to do it. That’s something I cannot relate to because I tell my son I love him way too much. Even when our family has an argument — “I hate you!” “I’ll punch you in your face!” – you walk away going, “I love you, though,” because you never know what’s going to happen. So to play this character was a bit of a challenge, but it was fun.

TVLINE | Do Brad and his dad get caught up in any antics?
Yeah, we go out and party with his friends, because after I’ve had this scare I decide I’m going to live life. At one point I steal a monkey from this zoo….

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TVLINE | Oh, it’s one of those kinds of nights out. What can you share about the sports radio pilot you’re shooting for CBS this month?
It’s going to be good — hopefully I’ll get the chance to do another show again. My character is based on [ESPN’s] Colin Cowherd, and he’s recently married (The Chicago Code‘s Cynthia McWilliams plays the wife), he has a crazy ex-wife, and he’s got a nut (Dollhouse‘s Eliza Dushku) who works with him on his show. He’s constantly trying to manage these three women and also be a macho sports reporter with a really strong point of view.

TVLINE | I’m curious: Who out there today makes you laugh?
Someone who’s not a Wayans? Vincent Oshana and Wil Sylvince are two young comics I’ve taken with me on the road, and they make me laugh because they take chances. Today with cell phones in the [comedy] clubs, it’s hard for people with stature in the comedy world to be irreverent, because the 24-hour news cycle will get a hold of something you did and next thing you know you’re apologizing for trying to be funny.

TVLINE | And from where you sit, what is TV doing right and wrong these days?
There are way too many reality shows. Reality TV is, first of all, not real, and second of all it dumbs down television. There’s nothing like a well-crafted story with an interesting character that you want to see win, someone that inspires you. I can watch classic shows on Nick At Nite, and I’m always moved in some way. But when I watch reality TV, I get sick. The only emotion I have is I wish they would all [go away]!