Friday trilogy's Pops comes to Golden Gecko

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

March 13, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2014 at 10:14 p.m.

He's known for playing the uncompromising - finger lickin' - Mr. Jones on the hit "Friday" movie trilogy and roles on other TV shows, including "The Wayans Bros." and "The Boondocks" cartoon.

John "Pops" Witherspoon's more than four decades of work as a comedian, actor and voiceover artist have solidified the Detroit native as a Hollywood and comedy club staple.

And this weekend, he'll take the stage at Golden Gecko for a live show.

The Advocate caught up with Witherspoon this week to talk about his three shows and why he's everyone's "Pops."

Do you prefer stage comedy over movies?

I'd rather do movies, so I don't have to travel. They're all nice, though. I do stand-up, commercials, movies. You gotta get that paper.

What do you typically talk about during one of your comedy shows?

I talk about the experiences I have in today's world. I talk about life and kids. I talk about when I was 18, we had the draft. You didn't go to college; you went to Vietnam. I talk about being married and shopping at Costco. And I do some impressions.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I love cars. I'm a car enthusiast. I like the old cars. I have about 10.

How did you get in this business?

I drove from Detroit by myself to California. I didn't like cold weather, and everyone around me was broke. I did live in New York for a while, too.

What do you tell up-and-comers in this business?

Stick with it. I was in Windsor, Ontario, once and a guy told me, "I want to be a comic one day." I told him, "Don't want to be a comic one day. Go, get up on stage." So I tell them to go ahead and do it. You can't sit around your town, you have to go to where the comics are doing comedy.

How have you changed from that guy who drove away from Detroit all those years ago?

I haven't changed much. I'm just after the money now.

What's next for you?

Still working. You don't have the choice these days. I get the jobs that come along. I'm working on "First Family" and a new cartoon that's coming out, so that keeps me very busy. And we keep talking about another "Friday" coming out.

Will you ever retire?

No. You quit - you die. There's a big difference between being broke and having that paper.



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