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Comedian Mike Epps on playing Tampa

Mike Epps believes a good comedian can make fun of anyone, anywhere, anytime.

So when the funnyman stops by St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater on Friday, expect him to razz the recently deceased Michael Jackson. He'll also rag on Ybor City, an area he knows well from years of visiting his grandmother, who lives in Temple Terrace.

Fans know Epps, 37, from films like Bait with Jamie Foxx, Soul Men with Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac, Next Day Air with Donald Faison, and this summer's The Hangover. Twice, he's played characters named Reggie, in Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins and The Grand.

In his spare time, the jokester records Weird Al-style parody songs, an album of which drops in October. Epps, 37, called tbt* from his Los Angeles home for a brief chat.

What do you remember about visiting Tampa?

I used do a club back in the day called Tropix. … I love Tampa, man. Tampa is the spit-out, for real.

I don't even know what that means.

The spot.

Why do you think so many comedians talk about Florida in their acts?

It's the bottom, baby. It's right there on the bottom of the map. You hit the bottom of the map, it goes down.

A lot of comedians are writing books now. If you wrote a book, what would it be called?

Ain't a Damn Thing Funny When You're Trying to Make Some Money.

Why do you say that?

'Cause it was hard as hell, me trying to get to where I was. It wasn't easy.

Mike Epps

The comedian performs at 8 p.m. Friday at Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg, (727) 892-5767; mahaffey

theater.com. $42-$67.

Comedian Mike Epps on playing Tampa 08/20/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 20, 2009 5:30am]

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