Model Citizen

Comedy vet leaped from the runway to the silver screen, with a stop onstage along the way.

Robyn pop Max Martin
Comedian John Witherspoon has never thought of himself as particularly funny. He's especially serious when he talks about breaking into modeling in the '60s while he worked at a factory in his native Detroit. "I'd read these magazines and say, 'I look better than that guy standing next to a car. I could be that guy,'" recalls the 66-year-old Witherspoon, who's in town this weekend to yuk it up in the Flats. "I always had the chutzpah." Which led to the exposure. Which led to a gig in a comedy revue. "I knew I should take a shot at it. One of the guys in acting class with me — I got him to play a reporter. I was President Johnson and bought me a 10-dollar cowboy hat. We stole the show," remembers Witherspoon. "I thought, 'Wait a minute. I can be funny.'"He's proved it ever since. Witherspoon has starred in episodes of Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Living Single, and The Wayans Bros. And, other than Ice Cube, he's the only comedian who's been in all three Friday flicks. "But, lucky for me, I did not give up my stand-up," says Witherspoon. "All of a sudden, you got these movies and TV shows. But that doesn't last." Showtimes are at 8 and 10:15 p.m. today and tomorrow, and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Improv, 2000 Sycamore Street on the West Bank of the Flats. Tickets are $23 to $26. Call 216-696-4677 or visit
May 30-31, 8 & 10:15 p.m.; Sun., June 1, 7 p.m., 2008
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