The Rockefellers had oil, the Carnegies had steel and the Kennedys had politics. When it comes to comedy, however, one American family shines above all others: the Wayans. From the days of “In Living Color” to their recent “Thugaboo” cartoon series, each member of the Wayans clan has made an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. Artsweek recently spoke to Shawn Wayans, third oldest among the siblings, about his future projects and the origins of his comedy.

Artsweek: Your family’s entertainment resume really is prolific, and the variety of your work is pretty amazing, going from sketch comedy and sitcoms to video games like The Dozens and even animation. Recently, you have focused on a new cartoon that you and your brothers put out for kids called “Thugaboo.” “Boo Crew Christmas” is the second of three specials you are putting out, correct?

Shawn Wayans: Yeah, the “Boo Crew Christmas” just came out on DVD, and the third one will come out in 2008.

I still remember your family’s first show, “Waynehead,” and I was bummed when they stopped showing it.

(Laughs) You remember that?

Yeah, and I liked the spin it put on kid’s shows; he was not your normal protagonist because he had a club foot, and I remember even as a kid that it was different than other cartoon shows. What’s different about this cartoon?

It really all just stems from our childhood, from people around us, all the characters around us. Since we come from New York, we grew up in a totally multi-racial environment. I had friends from literally every different ethnic background: Chinese, White, Indian – whatever. It didn’t matter; we all just hung out together. That is never reflected in cartoons in the United States. We wanted to present that kind of experience.

Are there any parts of producing voice work that you prefer to live action comedy like your films and TV shows?

{{GET RID OF SW}} SW: It is like working out at the gym. You can work out all your different muscles equally hard and each one is going to end up looking different. Animation is a completely different thing than working with film. You have to get the voices down first, directing the actors to make sure they say things correctly when they can’t really see it. Then I collaborate with the animators. The art director oversees the artists and I oversee the art director to make sure we get all the poses right.

Artsweek: Despite all the variety of your and your family’s work, there is always a heavy emphasis on satire… is satire an important requirement for the projects you choose to do, even in a little bit in [[of?]] animation?

Mainly we just pull from our life experience. What we eventually come up with always depends on the usual requirements of whatever medium we are using, but then we put a flip on it. For instance, our show “Thugaboo” really goes back to old-school shows that we grew up with like “Charlie Brown” and “Fat Albert,” but then we put a hip-hop twist on it. We wanted to work with the same sort of feel-good, moral stories they used to tell and then update them and make them our own.

Your MySpace page says that you are 107 years old. Do you have any sage advice for college kids to lead us on our own paths to success and unnaturally old ages?

The sooner you know what it is you do in life, the better. Figure out what you want to do, and then you can aggressively pursue that. I feel bad for kids that go to college for your parents. College can be a great education, but sometimes it isn’t necessarily the right kind of education for everybody. Get an education, but do it learning about what you truly want to learn about instead of wasting three, four years of your life. Aggressively pursue whatever really motivates you and fuels your desires. Then you will succeed.

Do you have anything else in the works as of right now, animation or otherwise?

Yeah, we are actually working on a pilot for VH1. It is kind of in the vein of “Entourage” but, again, from the perspective of the hip-hop world. It is going to be a really fun kind of show, even with a little bit of flaunting, in-your-face, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” kind of vibe in there too. Definitely check it out.