Stand-up Sit-Down: John Witherspoon at Addison Improv

By Christina Shams
|  Sunday, Aug 1, 2010  |  Updated 11:14 AM CDT
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Stand-up Sit-Down: John Witherspoon at Addison Improv

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John Witherspoon.

Bang bang bang bang!” echoed the enthusiastic crowd as comedian and actor John Witherspoon danced his way onto stage of the Addison Improv July 29, dressed in yellow from his bowtie to toes- -including his hard to miss yellow wrist watch.

Witherspoon is most commonly known for his acting role as “pops” on the 90’s sit com “The Wayans Brothers,” and as Mr. Jones on the film “Friday.” As he continued to open the show with famous lines from these films, the audience chanted back in loud unison, as if they were singing along to their favorite hits at a rock concert.

“I say it at the beginning of the show to get it out of their systems,” Witherspoon said with a smile. 

His references of protesting for civil rights, and the Vietnam War coupled with his current perception of President Barack Obama brought the diverse audience together in roars of laughter.

“I’m from the jazz era--Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk,” Witherspoon said.

During his set, “pops” recited the immortal words of William Shakespeare with a comedic twist. We wondered how such a clever man could incorporate such a long piece of serious literature.

What you may not know, is that his first experience in performance was as a Shakespearean actor in Detroit.  One day he was asked to add some humor to his act, and found that comedy was just his thing. 

In his prime, he used to be a model for ad campaigns and commercials. It was when he moved to New York as a youngster that he realized the modeling world wasn’t as simple as it was cracked up to be.

“I moved to New York and everyone looked better than me and were taller than me.” Witherspoon chuckled. After spending some time in New York, Witherspoon decided it was finally time to hit the road and move to LA.

“My success story is you gotta get up and go,” Witherspoon said.

He headed straight to the Comedy Store; a place where he performed alongside some of the greats of comedy like Robin Williams, and Richard Pryor.

One of his first major hits was on the “The Wayans Brothers” show.  It was five years of stability for Witherspoon; allowing him to work a semi-regular schedule in a studio that was only 15 minutes from his house. He spoke fondly of Shawn and Marlon (who also do stand-up now as well) as if they were his own two sons.

“I think I’d be funny if we got together a “Wayans Brothers” tour and tour arenas,” Witherspoon said.

Along with his current stand-up gig, Witherspoon is also shooting a TV pilot on his property called “Cooking for Poor People.” No celebrity guests allowed.

“I’m making a fried egg sandwich for dinner.  That’s the whole show. I talk about the world events while I’m cooking.  I want real people,” Witherspoon said.

During his spare time, Witherspoon maintains his eight homes, does comedy and grows tomatoes in his garden. He has his eye out for a rat that’s been attacking his tomatoes and warns him that his feasting days are rapidly coming to an end.

“I’m trying to catch that sucker,” Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon has headlined Dallas for many years now, dating back to days when the Bronco Bowl and Reunion Area were prime venues. The audience’s laughter and standing ovation was a sure sign that no matter how many times he comes to Dallas, he still goes out with a “bang.”

John Witherspoon will be headlining the Addison Improv this weekend July 29-Aug 1. For tickets and more info click here.  

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