Cedric the Entertainer appeared on It’s Showtime at the Apollo in 1992 and soon after on Def Comedy Jam. In 1994, he received BET’s Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award. Landing his first acting role on The Steve Harvey Show in 1996 and was featured in Spike Lee’s The Original Kings of Comedy. He has additionally made an appearance in the children’s movies Ice Age and Madagascar and in the Barbershop films.
Early on Profession
Comedian, actor. Cedric Antonio Kyles was born April 24, 1964, in Jefferson City, Missouri. He grew up with his father, Kitrell, his mother, Rosetta, and his sister, Sharita. Even though Kyles was voted “most humorous” and “most popular” in high school, he wasn’t focused on comedy when he was a student. He once told Reel Images Magazine, “I wasn’t the class clown. My mom taught at the school district where I was being educated, so they weren’t going to permit no class clown! She would have clowned me!”
In 1987, Kyles acquired a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. He got a job at State Farm working on insurance claims; almost immediately after, he let a friend persuade him to take part in a comedy competition in St. Louis. Kyles didn’t just do well-he won everything. He held onto his job at State Farm for three years, even while making comedy a larger portion of his living.
Kyles’ famous moniker, Cedric the Entertainer, was created by chance. (A previous contender for that role had been “Cheerio.”) In order to fill up the time slots he was hired for, Kyles would sing songs, recite poetry and do anything else he could think of to supplement his lean but extremely well-known comedy material. After telling the host at one venue to introduce him as an entertainer, not a comedian, having been introduced as “Cedric the Entertainer”-and he thought, “There it is, right there. I’ll take that one.”
Achievement in Television and Movie
Working his way upward from local comedy clubs to nationwide television, Cedric made an appearance on It’s Showtime at the Apollo in 1992, and soon after on Def Comedy Jam as well. He was quickly hosting Comicview, a well known series on the BET network. In 1994, Kyles won BET’s Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award. He landed his first acting role on The Steve Harvey Show in 1996. He played the part of a physical education instructor named Cedric, the best friend of Steve Harvey’s character. Cedric’s work on the show earned him four NAACP Image Awards, however the awards didn’t stop there. He received another for his voice-acting on The Proud Family and was nominated for the movies Barbershop (2002) and Cadillac Records (2008). His five wins in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category continue to be an Image Awards record.
Cedric’s comedy style is usually referred to as clean, or inclusive, but he maintains that he does not shy away from swearing or being abrasive on principle-it’s simply not his personal style. Along with Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer was highlighted in Spike Lee’s 2000 documentary The Original Kings of Comedy.
The film’s optimistic response meant a huge advancement for all four comics. When Bernie Mac passed away in 2008, Cedric the Entertainer spoke at his funeral.
Cedric the Entertainer has found a place on the silver screen, as well. In 2000, he appeared with Martin Lawrence in the movie Big Momma’s House. Over the following ten years, Cedric appeared in a long list of movies, which includes Barbershop (2002), Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004), Johnson Family Vacation (2004) and The Honeymooners (2005). He also piled on the voice acting roles in animated films such as Ice Age (2002), Madagascar (2005) and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008), as well as in the combination live-action and computer-generated Charlotte’s Web (2006).
Cedric married Lorna Wells in 1999. They had a son, Croix, and a daughter, Lucky Rose, but Cedric and Lorna have since divorced. Cedric also has a daughter, Tiara, from a previous relationship. Cedric founded the Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation Inc., in his hometown community of St. Louis. Its objective is to enhance the lives and opportunities of inner city youth.
Despite the fact that Cedric the Entertainer has dedicated much of his energy in recent years to his TV and film roles, he insists that stand-up will always be an important part of his profession. “You are the conductor and [the audience is] the symphony,” he explains. “It’s a symphony of laughter, if you will, and you’re trying to make sure everybody is hitting some good notes and you’re making this whole, full orchestrated sound of laughter.”