David Letterman, Ice Cube and Chris Tucker were among the celebrities attending a memorial service in honor of the comic, who died at home in Sherman Oaks, California, on October 29th at age 77.
Witherspoon’s open casket was surrounded by white flowers, family photos and artwork, while a large screen displayed a photo of him at the front of the venue.
Letterman, who was godfather to Witherspoon’s son, John David, commenced the ceremony with an opening monologue.
Ice Cube paid tribute to Witherspoon in a speech, describing him as “one of the funniest people I know.”
“Laughter is the medicine for our mind, body and soul,” the actor and rapper said. “It helps us get through this crazy world, and God bless the ones that make us laugh. John was naturally funny. No matter how bad a script was, [there] was nothing you could do to harness John’s funny. It was going to come through. He was going to turn it into magic and that was his true gift.”
Actress Angela Gibbs also delivered a speech, saying Witherspoon, “will be loved and he will be remembered for a long long time.”
Aaron McGruder, the creator of The Boondocks cartoon on which Witherspoon voiced Robert “Granddad” Freeman (opposite Regina King,) was also in attendance -- with actor Greg Eagles sharing a photo with him on Twitter.
TMZ reports that King also sent in a video message to play at the event in her absence.
Marlon Wayans also couldn’t attend the celebration, taking to Instagram to share how devastated he was to miss it. Witherspoon played the father of Wayans and his brother, Shawn Wayans, in the popular sitcom The Wayans Bros.
“Can’t make your send off Pops... I’m broken up about it,” he captioned a photo of the two. “Unfortunately, have to work. I know you would tell me ‘mahlon, go get that PAPER! You better go get them keys ? see... you got a comedy key, a sitcom key ? a movie key ? , a stand up key ?... now go get that drama key ? now you gonna unlock ? all that PAPER.’”
“I’ll always hear you,” Wayans continued. “I’m glad every time we said goodbye it was always with a fatherly hug and kiss. So that’s the goodbye I’ll leave it with. #ripPOPS @johnnywitherspoon playing some Johnny Mathis “chances are” in your honour.”
Preparations underway for John Witherspoon funeral @ForestLawn this afternoon. David Letterman is giving the opening monologue - he was close to John and godfather to John's son John David. @NBCLA is the only local station allowed at the ceremony. We have Live coverage today @4pmpic.twitter.com/5zzGvev7Bs