An AmericasComedy.Com Interview
Comedian Cedric The Entertainer is one of the hardest working men in the entertainment business. Perhaps you love him from his roles in Barbershop, Be Cool or The Original Kings Of Comedy. You may have became a fan of his voice-over roles in Madagascar, Charlotte’s Web or The Proud Family. Maybe it was his staring role in the hit Johnson Family Vacation. Anyway you look at it, Cedric IS “The Entertainer.”
Even with his success as an actor, producer and director, Cedric The Entertainer is coming to Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium and going back to his roots of stand up comedy.
We spoke to Cedric, (Mr. Entertainer?), by phone as he was recovering from a minor surgery performed last week.
Have you ever worked in the Sacramento area before?
Yeah, I was in Sacramento about 3 years ago at one the local clubs and then at, I think the same venue that I am playing on Thursday, so it’s been awhile.
Fantastic! I know that you rescheduled from Saturday, and you tweeted out that you had some minor surgery.
Yeah, I had a little hernia I had to take care of.
Everything’s Okay now?
Yeah, I’m ready to get back at it, you know, I’m up moving around and doing 110 crunches a day, so I’m good. (chuckling).
Cedric, you are truly a complete package as an entertainer. You act in comedies and dramas, animated movies and plays on Broadway. You also write, direct and produce. What gives you the most satisfaction?
I started with stand-up and I think that probably ranks pretty high up there with the opportunity to get immediate reaction to your thoughts and commentary. Having that audience response so immediately, is one of the greatest satisfactions.
I also enjoyed directing my first movie and I look forward to seeing what people think about that when it comes out.
Have you decided on a title yet? I heard it was a toss up between “Chicago Pulaski Jones” and “Dance Foo Fighting.”
We decided that the title is “Dance Foo – The Legend of Pulaski Jones” (laughs)
So, nobody won, but you just compromised!
Yeah, (chuckling), at least that’s settled.
Most people don’t know that before you were Cedric “The Entertainer” you were Cedric “The Insurance Salesman.” What was the big step you took that put you on the stage?
I started stand up almost the same week that I started at State Farm (Insurance), and it was kind of weird that I felt like my life was calling at the same time I found the best job that I had ever had since getting out of college. But I worked for State Farm for over 2 years before I decided that I could do comedy full time and so I just built my initial career around St. Louis then got an opportunity to tour on a national tour with the Funny Bones comedy clubs and that’s when I decided to go for it.It was a relatively short period for most comedians. I know a lot of guys that put their 13 or 14 years into their careers before they got a real break.
I always knew I was a performer. My mother was a school teacher and was all about the education in our household and I remember trying to convince her to let me know to a performing art school where I could sing in talent shows and stuff like that. I have always had a knack for it. But I didn’t really try to act until I was out of college.
The story about how you got the “The Entertainer” moniker was that you wanted to charge more money so you had to do more time.
Yeah, (chuckling), You know comedy is all about time. The opener does 10 minutes, the feature act does 30 minutes and the headliner does an hour, so when I started, I wanted the money for at least the 30 minute guy.
I didn’t have a lot of material so I would sing songs, do poetry, paint pictures.I would do whatever I had to do. They said I was entertaining and the guy (MC) kept calling me a comedian and I said, “No, don’t call me a comedian, call me an entertainer.” So, he introduced me as Cedric “The Entertainer,” I had a good show, the name stuck and that’s what it’s been.
You have a daughter who’s 6 years old and a son who’s 9 years old. You have done a lot of animated shows and movies including; Charlotte’s Web, Madagascar and The Pride Family doing voice overs and you worked with Oprah Winfrey. How do your kids react to watching and hearing their dad?
They do get more excited about the other people in the films though I do love telling the story that my son had no idea who Oprah was. When I was doing Charlotte’s Web, we (Oprah and I) were in the studio together at the time and I said to my son, “This is Oprah Winfrey,” and he goes “And you do what? Do you know that my dad is Cedric The Entertainer?” (laughing) and I told him, “There you go son, that’s telling her!”
You’ve worked with so many of the greats in comedy, sports, actors and even politicians, who have you most enjoyed working with the most?
I guess I’d have to say that I have had the most fun working on the “Barbershop” movie with Ice Qube who is a very interesting character to work with. We had great laughs with Jim Carrey on “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and also in “Be Cool” with John Travolta, he was actually a very cool dude too. He liked to sing old Motown songs on the set and we had a good time.
Is there anyone that you still want to work with on projects that you haven’t yet?
Yeah, even though I kind of got to work with him while doing voice work on “Dr. Doolittle 2,” I still would like to do something with Eddie Murphy. Something big like a comedy where there’s a lot of comedic minds there and we’re all having a great time. I also have the opportunity to work with Tom Hanks in his latest movie, “Larry Crowne” so that’s a big deal. Eddie Murphy will probably be someone on the top of that list that I would want to have the opportunity to be around and laugh, do something funny and create something special and unique with.
Is there any one project that you have worked on that you look back and say, “I wish I hadn’t done that?”
No, not really where I wish that I hadn’t done it. The Honeymooners was something that I really enjoyed and it was a big brand. We had another idea that we were going to do when we started off and then the studio got involved and changed it and made it something else. It was one of those things where I wish we could have done our original ideas. It would have been a lot funnier and more true to the characters that Mike Epps and I were going to bring to it. At one point it didn’t turn out that way. It was such a big franchise and we would have had the opportunity to make so many more and add to it’s success. Sometimes you just look back on it and say, “man, that was really disappointing!”
The bigger the budget the less control you have?
The less power you have. You don’t have the say in the overall direction of the movie. We had a new executive come in on the movie and change the movie into something he thought would make sense. He was trying to make a name for himself at the studio. You had to deal with the politics of that and that’s what was going on. You end up falling prey to studio politics.
I heard that you were interested in doing more TV. Do you have anything in the works?
We are developing a couple of different things. The title of one project is “Anger Management” based on the Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson movie. It’s a sitcom so it would be about me as an anger management therapist who actually has anger issues of his very own. It is set in Brooklyn, New York and I am looking forward to doing that. It is still in early development though.
I’m also developing a reality show where I show up and kick in on people’s family reunions where I try to convince the families to try to eat better. We thought it would be fun to go to family reunions, Superbowl parties and anytime people are gathered together, eating wings and drinking beer and I’m like, “Alright fool, can we change this out and try something different?”
You’re one of the hardest working people in the business. Do you have any thoughts of taking a break or retiring anytime soon and just kicking back and enjoying life?
I’ve always kind of set my eye on being 50 years old and being able to down shift a little bit. I have about 4 or 5 years left for that. Yeah, I’m definitely planning on being able to slow down and travel and enjoy life and just do the fun things before I’m just old and gotta do it on a cruise ship. I just want to be able to still cause some debauchery and trouble, maybe get on the news!
Cedric The Entertainer is appearing at 8:00 PM at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, 1515 J St., Sacramento, CA, 95814 Tickets Here
About the Author: Steven Bloom is Founder/Publisher of AmericasComedy.Com. He is pursuing his dream of laughing every day and associating with some of the most creative people in the entertainment industry. Steven@AmericasComedy.Com