Cedric the En­ter­tainer to per­form in Or­lando

Orlando Sentinel - - PEOPLE & ARTS - By Hal Boedeker Staff Writer

Cedric the En­ter­tainer seems the per­fect choice to per­form at the Florida Clas­sic Kick­off Show be­cause of his com­mit­ment to ed­u­ca­tion through his char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion.

“I grew up in a sin­gle­par­ent house­hold,” said the stand-up co­me­dian who was born Cedric Kyles. “My mother was a school­teacher. Ed­u­ca­tion was a big part of how our lives were changed.”

Cedric, 53, re­called how a visit to a col­lege cam­pus im­pressed him as a child. “You do feel em­pow­ered by the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said. “Once I started to make money, I just wanted to be able to pro­vide that ex­pe­ri­ence to peo­ple. If you wanted to go to col­lege, then that’s what the schol­ar­ship was all about.”

The week­end cel­e­brates col­lege friends re­unit­ing as Florida A&M Univer­sity and Bethune-Cook­man Univer­sity face off on the foot­ball field Satur­day. Cedric’s kick­off show starts 8 p.m. Thurs­day at the Dr. Phillips Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts in down­town Or­lando. Tick­ets start at $57.50 at dr­phillip­s­cen­ter.org. Show pro­ceeds ben­e­fit schol­ar­ship pro­grams at both uni­ver­si­ties.

Cedric’s foun­da­tion has helped stu­dents in his na­tive Mis­souri as well as those at his­tor­i­cally black col­leges. He called it a great plea­sure to hear from those stu­dents.

“There’s some­thing re­ally pride­ful about that, to know you con­trib­uted to peo­ple go­ing and liv­ing their dreams,” he said.

He takes pride, too, in be­ing part of the Orig­i­nal Kings of Com­edy tour with D.L. Hugh­ley, Steve Har­vey and Bernie Mac. These days, Cedric is on the Com­edy Get Down Tour with Hugh­ley, Ed­die Grif­fin and Ge­orge Lopez.

“We’re older and ma­ture,” Cedric said. “It just works. We en­joy these days that we get to be to­gether.”

Cedric does a lit­tle Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump hu­mor. “I try not to beat him up too much be­cause ev­ery­body does it,” he said. “No­body re­ally likes this guy,” he said, adding, “Dog is man’s best friend, and this guy doesn’t have one.”

Cedric’s sit­com “Soul Man” ended last year, but he’s act­ing with Tracy Mor­gan in “The Last O.G.,” to de­but next year on TBS. Cedric also has a deal with CBS to de­velop three shows, and he will star in one.

His fa­vorite film roles are those in “Be Cool” (“a bit of a bad boy”), “Top Five” and the “Bar­ber­shop” series, which he says changed his life.

Cedric tries to tour every week­end and prizes standup most.

“It’s kind of the purest form of what you do,” he said. “There’s no stu­dio ex­ec­u­tive there, no other pro­duc­ers with points of view that you have to sat­isfy. You get that im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion, the op­por­tu­nity of try­ing a joke, some­body go­ing ‘that’s hi­lar­i­ous’ right away. It’s hard. I still con­sider it a young man’s sport.”

But he keeps at it, while not­ing pit­falls. “With so many be­ing able to con­demn you on Twit­ter or any so­cial plat­form if it’s taken out of con­text, your ca­reer could be in jeop­ardy,” he said. “It’s a dif­fi­cult space when you’ve got some­thing to lose, as a celebrity with a brand. I would love to say this joke, but can I? Can I get away it? It’s in­ter­est­ing we live in these times where self-cen­sor­ship is one of the great things to hurt art.” Does he cen­sor him­self? “I try to fight it. I’m a risk­taker,” he said. “I’d never re­ally do it su­per reck­lessly, but I will jump off the top rope.”

VINCE BUCCI/INVISION FOR TELE­VI­SION ACADEMY/AP IM­AGES

Cedric the En­ter­tainer will per­form at the Florida Clas­sic Kick­off Show on Thurs­day.

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