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Model Citizen

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

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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 www.clevelandimprov.com.
May 30-31, 8 & 10:15 p.m.; Sun., June 1, 7 p.m., 2008

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