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Cedric the Entertainer

Cedric the Entertainer

1964—

Comedian, actor

A major television star of the late 1990s and a member of the phenomenally successful Original Kings of Comedy tour, the man known as Cedric the Entertainer had built the beginnings of his own comedic industry by the early 2000s. A commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 2001 and a host of film projects launched him on a trajectory toward superstardom. The key to his success was that he combined the cultural strengths of the 1990s black renaissance in comedy with an Everyman quality, shared by only a few comedians, that induced audiences of all kinds to identify with him.

Cedric the Entertainer has often refused to divulge his last name, but he was born Cedric Kyles in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 14, 1964. His mother, a school reading specialist, encouraged his talents as a performer—but not, at first, as a comedian. "He was very bent on entertaining with singing and dancing," she told Jet. "He was always singing and dancing in plays. I couldn't nail down the comedic part because that didn't come until later." Despite his large, somewhat rotund physique, Cedric remained a talented dancer with an unexpected gracefulness that some have compared to that of the classic film comedian Jackie Gleason.

Enjoyed Performing

Attending Southeast Missouri State University, Cedric pursued his interest in performing with a television major and a theater minor. After graduating, however, he took a job as an insurance claims representative with a State Farm agency in Normal, Illinois. Still a performer at heart, Cedric entered a stand-up comedy competition in Chicago and walked away with a $500 prize. After that, most weekends saw him making the two-hour drive back to his hometown for appearances in comedy clubs. At some time during this period, he took the name "Cedric the Entertainer;" he intended it as a reference to his all-around abilities as a performer.

Another first prize, this one in the Miller Genuine Draft Comedy Search, led to wider tours and a realization that life as a comedian was within his reach. Cedric's breakthrough came in Dallas in 1989, when he was in the audience at a Dallas comedy club in which fellow African-American comedian Steve Harvey was a principal player. As the mirthless audience endured an unsuccessful act from a visiting headliner, Cedric decided to ask the house management if he could perform a five-minute set at no charge. His miniature set brought the house down, and Harvey, impressed, brought Cedric back to Dallas to headline his own show.

As a comedian, Cedric was notable for his almost total avoidance of profanity—in stark contrast to the vast majority of other touring comedians, black and white. "If I use a curse word it's because of the character I'm portraying," he explained to Jet. "I use curse words like a Lawry's seasoning salt. It's hidden somewhere inside the joke. I use it as a tenderizer." His humor was in the observational vein popular among other comedians, but his act was distinctive in its use of dance and physical motion and in its gentle spirit, usually devoid of the anger that so often seems to seethe behind the comedian's smile. "I'm a little bit cuddly," he told USA Today. "I'm a Cedi-bear."

That's not to say that Cedric was incapable of comedy with an edge. Perhaps one of his funniest sequences, captured on film in the Original Kings of Comedy concert tour documentary directed by filmmaker Spike Lee, originated while then-President Bill Clinton was beleaguered by questions about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Cedric's routine depicted how a black president might respond to similar questioning. "You gonna ask me about that in front of my wife?" he asks, according to the New York Times, and lunges toward an imaginary reporter.

Landed Television Gig

Cedric first appeared on television in 1992 in a stand-up segment on the It's Showtime at the Apollo program, and later performed on the Def Comedy Jam on cable TV's HBO network. 1994 brought his first ongoing gig when he became the host of Black Entertainment Television's Comic View, succeeding his future Original Kings of Comedy tour-mate, D.L. Hughley. Comic View featured a segment of his own, entitled "Ced's Comedy Crockpot." That year Cedric won the Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award. Harvey emerged as something of a mentor to Cedric, which led to Cedric's receiving a continuing role on the hit situation comedy the Steve Harvey Show. Cedric played a high school coach named Cedric Jackie Robinson. The role brought Cedric an unprecedented four consecutive NAACP Image awards for outstanding actor in a comedy series.

It was the Original Kings of Comedy tour itself that really cemented Cedric's status as a star in urban America. That tour, which became the top-grossing comedy program of all time and pointed to a pent-up demand for high-quality entertainment among black audiences, featured Hughley, Harvey, and Bernie Mac along with Cedric. Running from 1998 into 1999, the program spawned first a recording, which won a 1999 Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Comedy Album, and then Lee's acclaimed film.

The tour and film also put Cedric on the radar screens of Hollywood talent spotters in a big way. He landed parts in a string of films released in 2001, including Kingdom Come, Serving Sara, directed by Reginald Hudlin, and Dr. Doolittle 2, in which he was heard as the voice of a bear in a zoo. Cedric also wrote and developed the film Preaching Ain't Easy, which also featured Harvey and Bernie Mac. In 2001 Cedric developed a pilot episode for a series of his own on the WB network in which he would star, as he told the Los Angeles Times, as the coach of "the losingest team in the NBA." He also planned a stage revue that would nurture the careers of young comedians.

National celebrity came to Cedric, not as a result of any of these endeavors, however, but rather from a television commercial broadcast during the Super Bowl in January of 2001. Superbly tailored to Cedric's talents as a physical comedian and to his likeable Everyman persona, the commercial featured Cedric bringing an attractive date home to his apartment. Offering her something to drink, he goes to the kitchen for two bottles of Bud Light beer. Once he is safely out of her sight, he erupts into an enthusiastic dance—but forgets that by so doing he is shaking the still-closed beer bottles. Thus his date is drenched when her bottle is opened.

Won National Attention

The commercial ranked Number One out of 57 ads broadcast during the Super Bowl according to viewer polls. Cedric's performance inspired USA Today to dub him Madison Avenue's MVP. "I definitely noticed a difference in how people respond to me after the Super Bowl when I was out and about," Cedric told the Los Angeles Times. The following year Cedric appeared in another Bud Light ad that reached Number Three in the Super Bowl ranking. The exposure boded well indeed for Cedric's growing career. He was featured on his own variety show, Cedric the Entertainer Presents, on the Fox network in 2002. But his film career, that started with supporting roles in such films as Serving Sara, Big Momma's House, and Barbershop and its sequel, soon eclipsed his television work.

At a Glance …

Born Cedric Kyles on April 14, 1964, in St. Louis, MO; son of Rosetta Kyles; married Lorna Wells, a stage-set costumer, 1999; children: Tiara (from previous relationship) and Croix Alexander (with Wells). Education: Southeast Missouri State University.

Career:

Comedian, starting in St. Louis, MO, 1980s-; State Farm Insurance, Normal, IL, claims adjuster, mid-1980s; Miller Genuine Draft Comedy Search competition, late 1980s; Original Kings of Comedy, tour member, 1998-99; A Bird and A Bear Entertainment, production company, founder, 2002-.

Awards:

Four NAACP Image Awards, for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, for the Steve Harvey Show; BET, Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award, 1994; AFTRA Award.

Addresses:

Web—www.ceddybear.com.

His Barbershop role garnered the most attention. As Eddie, a curmudgeonly barber, Cedric spouted off color jokes about some of the civil rights movement's greatest heroes. "Rosa Parks didn't do nothing but sit her Black ass down," Cedric's character, Eddie, grumbles in Barbershop. The role drew the ire of some in the black community, and Rosa Parks herself refused to attend the NAACP Image Awards that Cedric hosted in 2003. Cedric stood up to the negative attention in stride. "The point of the barbershop was that, while in there, people could speak their truth even if it wasn't the truth," he explained to Davina Morris of the Voice. His character Eddie, he continued, was "an antagonist…. He'd say things to get people fired up so they could give their own opinions. Not only did that work inside the film, but the controversy it sparked outside the film inspired people to talk about these heroes and research their stories to find out why Eddie said the things he did." The sequel was less controversial and in the end, Cedric's congenial personality and warmth overshadowed the outcries. Although he found himself explaining his character Eddie on CNN, Cedric told Kam Williams of the Afro-American that he "never experienced any personal attacks. I talked with Jesse Jackson and Rosa Parks, afterwards, and the King family, and we all arrived at an understanding about it with one another. Nobody ever blamed me, personally." The attention, however, had firmly put Cedric in the national spotlight. His celebrity made him a headliner.

To make the leap to leading roles in feature films, Cedric and his longtime manager Eric C. Rhone founded the production company, A Bird and A Bear Entertainment in 2002. The company's first film, The Johnson Family Vacation, released in 2004 and grossed over $30 million dollars. More than a vehicle for profits, his own company, Cedric explained to Alan Hughes of Black Enterprise, was about control. "We can control the style of the movie and its content and its characteristics," he asserted. "Often, especially as African Americans, [we're] accused of doing things onscreen that [are] considered buffoonery or something to that nature. Well, that's really determined by the writers and the powers-the people writing the check." With the power firmly in his hands, Cedric hoped to develop projects with "a certain Cedric The Entertainer kind of energy to them." Critics agreed that though the overall film lacked certain qualities, Cedric was a capable leading man. He followed that film with a full slate of others, including The Honeymooners and Code Name: The Cleaner.

With endorsement deals with McDonalds and Budweiser and a multimillion-dollar film deal with MGM, Cedric had a business acumen that he could leverage to create a long-lasting, profitable career worthy of his comedic talent. As he explained to Hughes, Cedric believed that comedians were "their own industry." His not only included career making deals, but also charitable efforts. Cedric started Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation to offer scholarships and outreach programs to inner-city youth and their families in St. Louis, with plans to expand the programming nationally. Cedric vision, business sense, generosity, and talent gave him strong foundations for building his industry.

Selected works

Films

Big Momma's House, 2000.

Serving Sara, 2001.

Barbershop, 2002.

Intolerable Cruelty, 2003.

Barbershop 2: Back in Business, 2004.

Johnson Family Vacation, 2004.

Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events, 2004.

Man of the House, 2005.

Be Cool, 2005.

The Honeymooners, 2005.

Charlotte's Web, 2006.

Code Name: The Cleaner, 2007.

Talk to Me, 2007.

Television

It's Showtime at the Apollo, 1992.

Comic View, host, BET, 1994.

Steve Harvey Show, 1996-.

Cedric the Entertainer Presents, 2002.

Sources

Periodicals

Afro-American, March 15-21, 2003, p. 7; October 24, 2003, p. B1.

Black Enterprise, July 2001, p. 64; December 2004, p. 130.

Chicago Sun-Times, February 5, 2001, p. 51.

Essence, April 2001, p. 80.

Interview, August 2000, p. 57.

Jet, September 20, 1999, p. 58; March 12, 2001, p. 58.

Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2001, p. F1; June 20, 2003, p. E32.

New York Times, August 18, 2000, p. E12.

USA Today, January 30, 2001, p. B3.

Voice, October 19, 2003, p. 4.

Washington Informer, January 4-10, 2007, p. 29.

On-line

"In the Spotlight: Cedric," Webster University,www.webster.edu/depts/business/notabene/06fall/cedric.htm (April 4, 2007).

—Ashyia Henderson, James Manheim, and Sara Pendergast

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Cedric the Entertainer, 1964(?)–

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER, 1964(?)–

(Cedric "The Entertainer")

PERSONAL

Full name, Cedric Antonio Kyles; born April 24, 1964 (some sources cite 1965), in Jefferson City (some sources cite St. Louis), MO; son of Kitrell (an employee for AT&T) and Rosetta Kyles (a reading specialist); married Lorna R. Wells (a wardrobe stylist), September 3, 1999; children: Tiara; (with Wells) Croix Alexander, Lucky Rose. Education: Southeast Missouri State University, B.S., 1987.

Addresses:

Agent—Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212–1825.

Career:

Actor, comedian, producer, and writer. Bird and a Bear Productions, chief executive officer; stand–up comedian, beginning in the 1980s; Kings of Comedy Tour, performer with Steve Harvey, D. L. Hughley, and Bernie Mac, 1997–2000; Bud Light Cedric "The Entertainer" Comedy Revue, touring performer, 2001; financier for films. Appeared in commercials. State Farm insurance company, worked as claims adjuster. Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation, founder (with Sharita Kyles Wilson), 1995.

Member:

Kappa Alpha Psi.

Awards, Honors:

Winner of a comedy competition, St. Louis, MO; Richard Pryor Comedian of the Year Award, Black Entertainment Television, 1994, for BET's Comicview; Image awards, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002, all for The Steve Harvey Show; Image Award nomination, outstanding supporting actor in a motion picture, 2002, for Kingdom Come; Image Award nomination, outstanding supporting actor in a motion picture, Black Reel Award nomination, best theatrical supporting actor, and MTV Movie Award nomination, best comedic performance, all 2003, for Barbershop; Image Award, outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, 2003, for The Proud Family; Image Award nomination, outstanding actor in a comedy series, and Teen Choice Award nomination, choice male television breakout star, both 2003, for Cedric the Entertainer Presents; named one of the "100 greatest stand–ups of all time," Comedy Central, 2004; Grammy Award nomination (with others), National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, best spoken comedy album, for The Original Kings of Comedy.

CREDITS

Film Appearances:

Bo, Ride, Miramax/Dimension Films, 1998.

Himself, All Jokes Aside, 2000.

Reverend, Big Momma's House (also known as Big Mama's Haus), Twentieth Century–Fox, 2000.

The Original Kings of Comedy (documentary), Paramount, 2000.

The Smoker, 2000.

Reverend Beverly H. Hooker, Kingdom Come, Twentieth Century–Fox, 2001.

Voice of first zoo bear, Dr. Dolittle 2 (also known as DR2 and DR.2), Twentieth Century–Fox, 2001.

Carl the rhino, Ice Age, Twentieth Century–Fox, 2002.

Eddie, Barbershop, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 2002.

Ray Harris, Serving Sara (also known as Mann umstaendehalber abzugeben! oder: Scheiden ist suess and Scheiden ist suess), Paramount, 2002.

Gus Petch, Intolerable Cruelty, Universal, 2003.

The detective, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (also known as Lemony Snicket), Paramount, 2004.

Eddie, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 2004.

Nate Johnson/Uncle Earl, Johnson Family Vacation, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2004.

Percy Stevens, Man of the House, Columbia, 2005.

Ralph Kramden, The Honeymooners, Paramount, 2005.

Sinclair "Sin" Russell (some sources cite Sin LaSalle), Be Cool, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 2005.

Voice of Maurice, Madagascar (animated; also known as Wild Life), DreamWorks, 2005.

Coach Levels, Flash, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 2006.

Malcolm Crowley, Mr. Lucky, Revolution Studios, 2006.

Voice of Golly, Charlotte's Web, Paramount, 2006.

Back to School, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 2006.

Film Executive Producer:

The Honeymooners, Paramount, 2005.

Film Producer:

Johnson Family Vacation, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2004.

Back to School, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 2006.

Flash, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 2006.

Television Appearances; Series:

Host, BET's Comicview, Black Entertainment Television, c. 1993–94.

Cedric Jackie Robinson, The Steve Harvey Show, The WB, 1996–2002.

Voice of Bobby Proud, The Proud Family (animated), The Disney Channel, 2001–2002.

Host, Cedric the Entertainer Presents, Fox, 2002–2003.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

(In archive footage) Himself, Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand–Ups of All Time, Comedy Central, 2004.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Voice of Bobby Proud, The Proud Family Movie (animated), The Disney Channel, 2005.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Def Comedy Jam: Prime Time, Fox, 1995.

Himself, Canned Ham: The Original Kings of Comedy, Comedy Central, 2000.

All New Bloopers No. 4, ABC, 2001.

Comedy Central Presents the New York Friars Club Roast of Hugh M. Hefner, Comedy Central, 2001.

Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, HBO, 2001.

Himself, Heroes of Black Comedy, Comedy Central, 2002.

Cedric the Entertainer: Starting Lineup, 2002.

Himself, Playa's Guide to Scarface, VH1, 2003.

The Disco Ball … A 30–Year Celebration, ABC, 2003.

Richard Pryor: I Ain't Dead Yet, "*%$" @!! (also known as Richard Pryor: I Ain't Dead Yet, "*%$" @!!—Uncensored), Comedy Central, 2003.

Host, Motown 45, ABC, 2004.

Comedy Central's Bar Mitzvah Bash!, Comedy Central, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The Sixth Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, syndicated, 2000.

The 31st NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 2000.

Host, The First Annual BET Awards, Black Entertainment Television, 2001.

The 14th Annual Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, Nickelodeon, 2001.

The Kennedy Center: Mark Twain Prize—Celebrating Whoopi Goldberg, PBS, 2001.

The Teen Choice Awards 2001, Fox, 2001.

The 32nd NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 2001.

The 2001 Essence Awards, Fox, 2001.

Cohost, The Second Annual BET Awards, Black Entertainment Television, 2002.

Host, The 2002 Billboard Music Awards, Fox, 2002.

Presenter, The 29th Annual American Music Awards, ABC, 2002.

Host, The 34th Annual NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 2003.

Spike TV VGA Video Game Awards, Spike TV, 2003.

The Third Annual BET Awards, Black Entertainment Television, 2003.

Presenter, The 35th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards, Bravo, 2004.

The 35th NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 2004.

The 2004 ESPY Awards, ESPN, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

It's Showtime at the Apollo, 1992.

Host, Soul Train, syndicated, 1997.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.

"Hot in Here," Making the Video, MTV, 2002.

Listen Up! Charles Barkley with Ernie Johnson (also known as Listen Up!), TNT, 2002.

The View, ABC, 2002.

Sergeant Snelly, "Pulp Boot Camp," The Proud Family (animated), The Disney Channel, 2003.

"Barbershop," VH1 Goes Inside, VH1, 2003.

"Not Today," Making the Video, MTV, 2003.

"Shrew's the Boss," The Anna Nicole Show, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.

Mad TV, Fox, 2003.

The Sharon Osbourne Show (also known as Sharon), syndicated, 2003.

Tinseltown TV (also known as Tinseltown.TV), International Channel, 2003.

Himself, "Porn Free," Eve, UPN, 2004.

Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Mad TV, Fox, 2004.

Inside Edition, syndicated, 2004.

Jimmy Kimmel Live, ABC, 2004.

The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 2004.

Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 2004.

The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 2004.

On–Air with Ryan Seacrest, syndicated, 2004.

Tavis Smiley, PBS, 2004.

Coming Attractions, E! Entertainment Television, 2004, 2005.

Judge, Steve Harvey's "Big Time Challenge" (also known as Big Time and Steve Harvey's "Big Time"), The WB, 2005.

Frequent guest on Russell Simmons' "Def Comedy Jam," HBO; appeared as Grandma Puddin in an episode of The Steve Harvey Show, The WB; also appeared in episodes of The Chris Rock Show, HBO; Hollywood Squares; The List, VH1; Movie House (also known as MTV's "Movie House"), MTV; Politically Incorrect, Comedy Central and ABC; and Ride with Funkmaster Flex, Spike TV.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Cedric Hubbard, Cedric the Coach, The WB, 2002.

Television Work; Series:

Creator and executive producer, Cedric the Entertainer Presents, Fox, 2002–2003.

Television Work; Specials:

Executive producer, Cedric the Entertainer: Starting Lineup, 2002.

RECORDINGS

Videos:

The Original Kings of Comedy, Paramount, 2000.

A Look inside "Intolerable Cruelty," Universal Studios Home Video, 2004.

Music Videos:

Nelly, "Hot in Herre," 2002.

Mary J. Blige featuring Eve, "Not Today," 2003.

Albums with the Original Kings of Comedy:

The Original Kings of Comedy, Universal, 2000.

WRITINGS

Teleplays; Series:

Cedric the Entertainer Presents, Fox, 2002–2003.

Videos with the Original Kings of Comedy:

The Original Kings of Comedy, Paramount, 2000.

Albums with the Original Kings of Comedy:

The Original Kings of Comedy, Universal, 2000.

Essay Collections:

Grown–A$$ Man, Ballantine, 2002.

OTHER SOURCES

Periodicals:

Entertainment Weekly, February 20, 2004, p. 38; August 13, 2004, p. 96; December 20, 2004, pp. 38–39.

Jet, March 12, 2001, p. 58; December 22, 2003, p. 18; May 24, 2004, pp. 62–64.

Newsweek, September 23, 2002, p. 79.

People Weekly, September 30, 2002, p. 99; August 16, 2004, p. 26.

TV Guide, May 19, 2001; December 28, 2002, pp. 28–29; July 19, 2003, pp. 32–34.

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Cedric the Entertainer 1964(?)–

Cedric the Entertainer 1964(?)

Comedian, actor

At a Glance

Sources

A major television star of the late 1990s and a member of the phenomenally successful Original Kings of Comedy tour, the man known as Cedric the Entertainer was already a familiar figure to African-American audiences at the turn of the century. Early in 2001, with a commercial aired during the Super Bowl and a host of new projects in the works, he suddenly seemed poised on the edge of superstardom. The key to his success was that he combined the cultural strengths of the 1990s black renaissance in comedy with an Everyman quality, shared by only a few comedians, that induced audiences of all kinds to identify with him.

Cedric the Entertainer has often refused to divulge his last name, but he was born Cedric Kyles in St. Louis, Missouri, around 1964. His mother, a school reading specialist, encouraged his talents as a performerbut not, at first, as a comedian. He was very bent on entertaining with singing and dancing, she told Jet. He was always singing and dancing in plays. I couldnt nail down the comedie part because that didnt come until later. Despite his large, somewhat rotund physique, Cedric remained a talented dancer with an unexpected gracefulness that some have compared to that of the classic film comedian Jackie Gleason.

Attending Southeast Missouri State University, Cedric pursued his interest in performing with a television major and a theater minor. After graduating, however, he took a job as an insurance claims representative with a State Farm agency in Normal, Illinois. Still a performer at heart, Cedric entered a stand-up comedy competition in Chicago and walked away with a $500 prize. After that, most weekends saw him making the two-hour drive back to his home town for appearances in comedy clubs. At some time during this period, he took the name Cedric the Entertainer; he intended it as a reference to his all-around abilities as a performer.

Another first prize, this one in the Miller Genuine Draft Comedy Search, led to wider tours and a realization that life as a comedian was within his reach. Cedrics breakthrough came in Dallas in 1989, when he was in the audience at a Dallas comedy club in which fellow African-American comedian Steve Harvey was a principal player. As the mirthless audience endured an unsuccessful act from a visiting headliner, Cedric decided to ask the house management if he could perform a five-minute set at no charge. His miniature set

At a Glance

Born Cedric Kyles in St. Louis, MO, c. 1964; son of Rosetta Kyles; married Lorna Wells, a stage-set costumer, 1999; children: Tiara (from previous relationship) and Croix Alexander (with Wells). Education: Southeast Missouri State University.

Career: Comedian, actor. State Farm Insurance, Normal, IL, claims adjuster, mid-1980s; began appearing in comedy clubs in St. Louis area; won Miller Genuine Draft Comedy Search competition, late 1980s; toured with Original Kings of Comedy, 1998-99; television appearances: Its Showtime at the Apollo, 1992; Def Comedy Jam, HBO; Comic View, host, BET, 1994; Steve Harvey Show, 1996-; film appearances: The Ride, 1998; Big Mommas House, 2000; The Smoker, 2000; The Original Kings of Comedy, 2000; Kingdom Come, 2001; Dr. Doolittle 2, 2001; Servicing Sara, 2001.

Awards: Two NAACP Image Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for the Steve Harvey Show.

Addresses: The WB Television Network, 4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg. 34-R, Burbank, CA 91520

brought the house down, and Harvey, impressed, brought Cedric back to Dallas to headline his own show.

As a comedian, Cedric was notable for his almost total avoidance of profanityin stark contrast to the vast majority of other touring comedians, black and white. If I use a curse word its because of the character Im portraying, he explained to Jet. I use curse words like a Lawrys seasoning salt. Its hidden somewhere inside the joke. I use it as a tenderizer. His humor was in the observational vein popular among other comedians, but his act was distinctive in its use of dance and physical motion and in its gentle spirit, usually devoid of the anger that so often seems to seethe behind the comedians smile. Im a little bit cuddly, he told USA Today. Im a Cedi-bear.

Thats not to say that Cedric was incapable of comedy with an edge. Perhaps one of his funniest sequences, captured on film in the Original Kings of Comedy concert tour documentary directed by filmmaker Spike Lee, originated while then-President Bill Clinton was beleaguered by questions about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Cedrics routine depicted how a black president might respond to similar questioning. You gonna ask me about that in front of my wife? he asks, according to the New York Times, and lunges toward an imaginary reporter.

Cedric first appeared on television in 1992 in a stand-up segment on the Its Showtime at the Apollo program, and later performed on the Def Comedy Jam on cable TVs HBO network. 1994 brought his first ongoing gig when he became the host of Black Entertainment Televisions Comic View, succeeding his future Original Kings of Comedy tour-mate, D.L. Hughley. Comic View featured a segment of his own, entitled Ceds Comedy Crockpot. Harvey emerged as something of a mentor to Cedric, which led to Cedrics receiving a continuing role on the hit situation comedy the Steve Harvey Show. Cedric played a high school coach named Cedric Jackie Robinson.

It was the Original Kings of Comedy tour itself that really cemented Cedrics status as a star in urban America. That tour, which became the top-grossing comedy program of all time and pointed to a pent-up demand for high-quality entertainment among black audiences, featured Hughley, Harvey, and Bernie Mac along with Cedric. Running from 1998 into 1999, the program spawned first a recording, which won a 1999 Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Comedy Album, and then Lees acclaimed film.

The tour and film also put Cedric on the radar screens of Hollywood talent spotters in a big way. He landed parts in a string of films released in 2001, including Kingdom Come, Servicing Sara, directed by Reginald Hudlin, and Dr. Doolittle 2, in which he was heard as the voice of a bear in a zoo. Cedric also wrote and developed the film Preaching Aint Easy, which also featured Harvey and Bernie Mac. In 2001 Cedric developed a pilot episode for a series of his own on the WB network in which he would star, as he told the Los Angeles Times, as the coach of the losingest team in the NBA. He also planned a stage revue that would nurture the careers of young comedians.

Celebrity came to Cedric, not as a result of any of these endeavors, however, but rather from a television commercial broadcast during the Super Bowl in January of 2001. Superbly tailored to Cedrics talents as a physical comedian and to his likeable Everyman persona, the commercial featured Cedric bringing an attractive date home to his apartment. Offering her something to drink, he goes to the kitchen for two bottles of Bud Light beer. Once he is safely out of her sight, he erupts into an enthusiastic dancebut forgets that by so doing he is shaking the still-closed beer bottles. Thus his date is drenched when her bottle is opened.

The commercial was ranked Number One out of 57 ads broadcast during the Super Bowl according to viewer polls. I definitely noticed a difference in how people respond to me after the Super Bowl when I was out and about, Cedric told the Los Angeles Times. The exposure boded well indeed for Cedrics growing film careerwhich might, he told the Times, include dramatic roles. Id like to try my hand at it, sure, he said. Just when I start getting to the point of people thinking they know what I do, I wanna flip it on them.

Sources

Periodicals

Chicago Sun-Times, February 5, 20001, p. 51.

Essence, April 2001, p. 80.

Interview, August 2000, p. 57.

Jet, September 20, 1999, p. 58; March 12, 2001, p. 58.

Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2001, p. Fl.

New York Times, August 18, 2000, p. E12.

USA Today, January 30, 2001, p. B3.

Online

http://www.thewb.com

James Manheim

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"Cedric the Entertainer 1964(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Cedric the Entertainer 1964(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/cedric-entertainer-1964

"Cedric the Entertainer 1964(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/cedric-entertainer-1964