Cedric the Entertainer

Q&A: Ceddy Bear

Comedian and star of TV Land’s The Soul Man, Cedric the Entertainer plays the Wilbur Theatre on Dec. 30.

Where did your comedy career start?
In St. Louis, when I started booking the Funny Bone comedy clubs. The culture back then was you had to work your way in to be invited to do the shows and tour. So once they said that I could tour, I actually quit my job. That was ’88, maybe ’89.

Has your comedy evolved?
I think that as you start doing it, you just do a lot of physical stuff. Then I started to trust writing and looking at things that I wouldn’t necessarily see as comedy. It evolved into being able to understand my voice and say the things that I want to say the way I want to say them. Hopefully they translate into good comedy and not offensive statements.

Are you constantly writing?
Definitely. But stand-up is a young man’s sport, the edginess of it, the danger. It’s harder for veteran comedians to write jokes all the time. They usually just find things that are very important to them, that they like to write about, that they like to talk about, and then that’s the stuff that they add to their show. Everything else is just commentary on daily life. If you come across a diamond in the rough, then all right, cool, you call that writing. But usually it’s just you kind of winging stuff off the top of your head.

Why the name Cedric the Entertainer?
I come from long line of entertainers. My grandfather, Ezra the Entertainer, he’s from a small village of—no, I don’t know. I used to just perform as Cedric. Then I was at a show, and the guy introduced everybody as “the next comedian.” Well, I didn’t really have a lot of jokes. I used to sing, I’d do poems—the more time you did the more money you got. So when the guy called me a comedian, I said, “Don’t call me a comedian. Call me an entertainer.”

This article originally appeared in the December 14, 2012, issue of The Improper Bostonian.