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Chris Spencer and Jalen Rose discuss comedy, Vegas & strippers

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If you have not seen a Chris Spencer movie, then I feel sorry for you.

The man has been blessed with the gift of humor and is responsible for decades of classic and cult comedies galore, such as “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood” and “Postal.” 

Chris just returned to the silver screen last week with the premiere of “Back on the Strip” – a phenomenal comedy about aged Las Vegas male strippers coming out of retirement. He directed, wrote, produced and stars in the revealing flick.

Chris – plus a few surprise guests – put on another performance for the ages on this week’s “Renaissance Man” episode, starting with the director’s inspiration to make the film.

“So what happened was, I was in Vegas. When you get off the plane in Vegas you see that sign for ‘Thunder From Down Under,’ ” Chris said, referring to the hit male dancer show in Sin City.

“I’ve noticed, for the last 20 years, it’s the same poster. They’ve gotta be old by now!”

Quickly, his mind started working and Chris consulted with his brother-in-law, Adam Rodriguez – who was in “Magic Mike” – and his own wife to come up with the concept. Soon enough, “Back on the Strip” was ready.

The laugh out loud premise lured in big names such as J.B. Smoove and Kevin Hart – but one top actor was especially quick to sign onto the project: “Willie Mays” Hayes himself, the legendary Wesley Snipes.

“[The co-producer] calls and puts Wesley on the phone right there. ‘Yo, Chris Spencer is in front of me. He has a movie. It’s about these male strippers. They get back together after 25 years. What do you think?’ ” 

“He’s like, ‘I’ll do it.’ I go, ‘That’s it, that’s all it takes?’ ”

Good fortune like that is something that’s touched Chris’ entire career and he’s used it to hit home run after home run.

“Literally, I just pick up the phone and call these [the cast and crew members],” Chris recalled, saying that they often agree to get involved in his works “without reading the script.”


Chris Spencer talked to Jalen Rose about making Hollywood hits.
Chris Spencer talked with Jalen Rose about making Hollywood hits.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nobody can attest to that more than comedian Gary Owen, who also jumped at a chance to be in the movie – and to appear on this week’s “Renaissance Man.”

“Chris is one of those guys that when he calls you, you don’t even have to read the script,” he told me. “You just trust that he’s going to make you look good and that the project’s going to be good.”

Also with a surprise cameo this week is cast member Faizon Love, who stole the show as Big Worm in “Friday” and later as the Gimbel’s manager in “Elf.”

For “Back on the Strip,” he had to get ready for singing and lots of dancing on a different type of North Pole. Love reinvented himself by taking on the role of a male stripper.

He attributes his casting to – and we can’t verify this – the result of devout, classical dance training. 

The hilarious Faizon also said he got the part because “Eddie Murphy can’t dance.”

In the spirit of the new movie, he was courteous enough to break down his top five favorite gentlemen’s clubs on the show this week.

Don’t worry NYC, a very special establishment in The Bronx makes the list.

There’s no doubt that the four of us had tons of laughs on the show while talking about the behind-the-scenes (and in-front-of-the-pole) moments that “Back on the Strip” has produced.

It’s these interactions that for Chris – who has reigned supreme in Hollywood – make it all worthwhile.

“I have all these [titles]: director, writer, producer. But my No. 1, which I want the world to know, is that I am a comedian,” Chris said. “You can’t be in it for the money. You really have to love this crap.”

Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before transitioning into a media personality. Rose executive-produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.

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