Entertain the people. That’s what Cedric the Entertainer does best. Last Friday, fans of the affable and extremely funny comedian filled the Wilbur Theatre with uproarious laughter and thunderous clapping. Cedric has starred in numerous TV shows and movies but is best known for his roles on “The Steve Harvey Show,” “Barbershop,” “Barbershop 2: Back in Business” and being one of “The Original Kings of Comedy.”
The self-proclaimed Ceddy Bear started his career doing stand up and has continued to grow as an actor, producer and most recently as a director. In the early 1990s he was on “Showtime at the Apollo,” and HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam.” Later he went on to host BET’s “Comic View” 1993-94 season.
The married father of three has poked fun at Condoleezza Rice while performing for former President George W. Bush and makes audiences think about politics and education with a well-delivered joke or pregnant pause.
He had his own self-titled variety show that lasted one season. Despite the show’s cancellation, Cedric continued to star in TV shows such as “All of Us,” appeared on “Mad TV” and was the voice of Bobby Proud in the “Proud Family” cartoon. He recently finished an NBC press conference for a new game show he’s hosting called “It’s Worth What?” that airs this summer and is working on “Hot in Cleveland” due to air June 15.
In addition to performing, Cedric has penned the book “Grown A$$ Man,” and is dedicated to helping at risk youth get an education with his Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation.
It’s Monday, four days before his show at the Wilbur and the Entertainer — a recipient of the Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award — is visiting his family in St. Louis, Mo. He’s getting some R & R before he heads to Boston. The longtime comedian who can sing and dance opens up about his future plans and his biggest pet peeve.
How was it starring in your own show? Did you gain or lose control over the content?
Well it’s interesting. On the show level you have lots of control; it’s the network level you have to worry about. On the show level, we can shoot what we want to shoot, set the atmosphere and tone of the show and even control who gets hired and fired. But, what night your show airs on, how many times it airs and things like that are network decisions. We get left out of that process and sometimes the network doesn’t really know who the real audience is. They have certain goals that they’re trying to meet.
The funniest skit was the one at the funeral where everyone was talking in Spanish, but you were only saying basic words like Hola!
[Laughs] Oh yeah! ¿Qué hora es? That was real funny. I really loved working on that show because I got to be different characters. I had a lot of success on “The Steve Harvey Show,” but it’s different playing the same character every day.
You’ve had great success with your book. Is another one on the table?
Well, I’m in talks to do another book. With the success of Steve Harvey’s [relationship] books, I’ve been approached to do the same type of thing, but that’s not me. Steve came from a really authentic place and I want to be authentic with my next book.
Tell me about the movie you’re directing. Have you wrapped up and what did you learn?
You know it’s a great experience. We’re doing some post-production editing right now. It’s a comedy with young actors. It’s a quirky movie that we decided to do independently on a low budget. We had an intense schedule. We shot the movie in fifteen days. But it was really cool to be able to use my experience and guide the young actors. The biggest challenge was making sure that my vision stayed intact with such a tight schedule. I had a great director of photography to help me stay on course so I’m happy.
You worked at State Farm Insurance for a bit. I read an article that said insurance agents make no money for the first few years. How was your experience? Did you make money?
I was a claims adjuster so I didn’t have to do that hustle. It was a cool job though. I had my little ways to hook people up if I felt they caught a bad rap.
How did you feel about Cornel West and Al Sharpton arguing about Obama on MSNBC’s “Stronger America: The Black Agenda?” Some bloggers were making a big deal about it and were talking about how the image of two powerful black men arguing could hurt black America.
I didn’t even see that argument. It’s so sad that when there’s a debate then there’s unnecessary controversy. That’s kind of what happened to me on “Barbershop.” We tend to put our leaders on pedestals and make them icons who can never have dissenting opinions. Like, if you’re black then we are all supposed to like Barack. I think that whenever there are differing opinions it’s like a red hot flash button and everyone says look at this! That’s Monday morning quarterbacking; anyone can do that. You can’t make comments if you’re not in the game. Like Trump and his comments on Kobe’s playing. That made me want to slap his wig off! Man! Having differing opinions is healthy. I think it’s fine.