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For comedian Damon Wayans Jr., there's only one topic that's off-limits

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Damon Wayans Jr. Portrait Session

Damon Wayans Jr. 

Damon Wayans Jr. never had to look far to find the funny. It was always at home.

His father is Damon Wayans. His uncles are Marlon Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans and Shawn Wayans. And his aunt is Kim Wayans.

They all rubbed off on him, and Wayans Jr. is continuing the family business. The star of “New Girl” and “Happy Endings” comes to Helium Comedy Club for shows July 21-23.

He says his father is the strongest stand-up comic in his family.

“My dad is very good at capturing the audience and keeping the audience’s attention no matter where he’s going,” Wayans Jr. says. “I try to emulate that. I want you to go on a journey with me, even if it’s silly all the way to the end.”

Fans who come to his shows will see his father’s influence.

“When you’re raised with somebody, you don’t know what you absorbed,” he says. “I feel like I have his mannerisms and voice and the same face as his.”

He also has been inspired by comics including Dave Chappelle, Patrice O’Neal and Richard Pryor.

Wayans Jr., who has been doing stand-up for about 15 years, says that once he hits the stage, he presses go and it’s on.

“I anticipate laughing from start to finish,” he says. “With every show I do, as soon as I get onstage, I make you laugh and don’t stop. It’s an onslaught. I don’t live in the world where I tell a story and it’s quiet and then it’s a punchline. I tell a story and you’re laughing through the whole story.

“There’s nothing better than that feeling of that exchange of energy. As much as they need to laugh, I need their laughter.”

His observational material includes remarks on family life and his father.

“I like jokes we can all enjoy,” Wayans Jr. says. “I dabble a little in race jokes. But I don’t want to be polarizing. I don’t do political jokes. I want them to enjoy themselves and not be attacked for what they believe in, no matter how stupid it is.”

When it comes to comedy, there are no limits — with one exception: no God jokes.

“I don’t want God doing jokes on me,” he says. “I will make fun of anything. And if I can joke in front of the person I’m making fun of, that’s a win for me. It’s all just an uplift. If you’re making someone laugh, I think you’ll be all right.”

What Damon Wayans Jr. • When 8 p.m. July 21, 7:30 and 10 p.m. July 22-23 • Where Helium Comedy Club, St. Louis Galleria, 1151 St. Louis Galleria Street, Richmond Heights • How much $35-$50 • More info heliumcomedy.com

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The Blender by Kevin C. Johnson

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