Iconic comic Witherspoon bringing laughs to Improv

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Comedian John Witherspoon is excited about returning to Pittsburgh.

Childhood memories of traveling via car from Detroit to visit his aunt in Mount Washington and the Pittsburgh Incline are conjured up when the iconic comic thinks of the Golden Triangle.

“Traveling to Pittsburgh was the first time I had saw a hilly city. I went Downtown and the city was unbelievable,” Witherspoon recalls. “I am not a stranger to Pittsburgh.”

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JOHN WITHERSPOON

Witherspoon will be bringing his “An Evening with John Witherspoon” tour to the Pittsburgh’s Improv for a three-night run Dec. 2, 3 and 4.

He will be bringing a combination of some of his most beloved characters to the stage during his tenure in Pittsburgh.

“I’ll be bringing Pops from the ‘Wayans Bros.’ sitcom, Robert Jebediah ‘Granddad’ Freeman from the ‘Boondocks’ and Willie Jones from the ‘Friday’ movies. I’ll be bringing all that to Pittsburgh,” said Witherspoon, 68.

The Detroit native got his start in show business as a print model and then later went on to do stand-up comedy, commercials and voice-overs and then television and movies.

“I got started because I looked into a magazine and saw a guy who was standing next to a car and I said ‘I look better than that dude, I can do that.’ So I went to a lot of modeling agencies in Detroit and I got the job modeling next to cars. Then I started taking acting classes,” said the California resident.

“I did everything. I did voice-overs and when things dried up there I did commercials, when things dried up there I did my stand up, when things dried up there I did movies. When I did movies, I got the chance to ad-lib and come up with lines that ended up being the funniest part of the movie and that is what made me have longevity,” he said.

Some of the avid golfer’s most famous lines include “Bang! Bang! Bang!” and “You Gotta Co-Ordinate!”

“Some of these lines were the funniest part of a movie and they weren’t part of the script,” Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon may be best known for his role as Pops in the “Wayans Bros.” sitcom or the series of “Friday” movies where he starred as Willie Jones.

However, he has had an illustrious career in television, movies and comic genres since he came on the scene a confident, funny character in the 1970s.

He has had roles in “The Richard Pryor Show,” “WKRP in Cincinnati,” “Hill Street Blues,” “227,” “What’s Happening!,” “Amen,” “Good Times” and the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

In addition to the “Friday” series and “Boomerang,” Witherspoon has landed roles in “I’m Gonna Git You, Sucka,” “House Party,” “Sprung,” “Bulworth,” “Soul Plane” and “Vampire In Brooklyn.”

And Pops shows no signs of slowing down.

He is currently in talks with Sony to produce a comedy cooking show tentatively titled “Cooking With Poor People.” Witherspoon said the show will be an hilarious take on what and how poor people eat.

“I was poor growing up and we used to eat pigtails and white potatoes or a big pot of beans,” Witherspoon recalled. “When you are hungry everything tastes good. That’s the way it is.”

When Witherspoon looks back on his career, the one word that comes to his mind is blessed.

“I thank God that I can still go out and do this,” Witherspoon said.

“An Evening With John Witherspoon” will be at the Pittsburgh Improv, 166 Bridge Street, Homestead.

(For ticket information contact the Pittsburgh Improv at 412-462-5233 http://www.improv.com.)

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