Actor, comedian and director Cedric Antonio Kyles, better known to audiences everywhere as Cedric The Entertainer, will take the stage at The Tropicana Showroom in Atlantic City on Saturday, July 7.
Living up to his name, Cedric, 48, has built a solid reputation throughout his career as a charismatic crowd-pleaser, and is perhaps best known for his standout roles in such hit films as The Original Kings of Comedy, Madagascar 1 & 2, and others.
Born in Missouri, the son of a school teacher, he was a mass communications major at Southeast Missouri State University. “But I grew up always knowing I was funny, he said.
In order to make a living, he had to do a lot of other things, including selling fax machines, working as a substitute teacher, and even as a claims adjuster for an insurance company.
Still, he added, his funny bone never left him and one day, while out at a comedy club with some friends, he was dared to go up on stage and perform.
“I did,” he recalled, “and the first time I got up on stage, I won $500. That was it. I was hooked and I have never looked back.”
Soon, he got the opportunity to tour with Funny Bones, a national comedy club that provided him with a salary good enough to allow him to begin doing comedy full-time. It was while on the comedy circuit that he acquired his now famous moniker.
“You know, comedy is all about timing. There’s the opening act, who gets about ten minutes on stage. Then there’s the feature act, who gets about thirty minutes. And then comes the headliner who, gets about an hour. I wanted to be the one who stood out, but I didn’t have a lot of material, so I sang songs, did poetry, painted pictures, whatever I could do to become basically your all-around entertainer,” he explained.
Soon, they were saying he was very entertaining, “but the emcee kept calling me a comedian,” Cedric continued. “I told him not to call me a comic but an entertainer instead, so he started calling me ‘Cedric the Entertainer’ And that’s the name that finally stuck.”
And soon he was living up to the title, doing his first TV appearance on It’s Showtime at the Apollo, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and BET’s Comic View among others, He was named one of the Grand Prize Winners of the Miller Lite Comedy Search, and in 1994 he also won the Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award from BET.
Two years later, Cedric moved into acting, playing Steve Harvey’s friend on the sitcom, The Steve Harvey Show. Over the years more and more roles came his way, and he appeared on Broadway in the revival of American Buffalo.
His latest venture in comedy is a new TV Land series titled The Soul Man, a spin-off of Hot in Cleveland. Debuting just last week, and airing on Wednesdays at 8 p.m., the show is based on the quirk character Reverence Boyce “The Voice” Ballentine, a former R&B music star-turned-minister.
“Popular comic actress Niecy Nash shares the spotlight about this man who goes from singing soul to saving souls,” Cedric said.
And while he seems to have mastered comedy and acting, and surely earned his well-deserved nickname, Cedric has proved to be talented in many other areas as well.
Last year, he gave the term “man of many hats” a new meaning when he came out with his own designer hat line WHO CED. He’s also developing and producing feature films under his own production company, A Bird and a Bear Entertainment.
“And I tell you truthfully,” he concluded, “I am enjoying it all.” ••
For show times and ticket information, call 1-800-735-1420.