Cedric The Entertainer: Shot Caller

If you’re a fan of comedy, then you know Cedric the Entertainer. From his television work on the likes of BET’s Comic View and The Steve Harvey Show to his roles in the films Barbershop 1 & 2, Intolerable Cruelty and Johnson Family Vacation on the big screen, Cedric has showed us that he truly lives up to his name. He’s even done quite a bit of voice work for films like Madagascar, Ice Age and Charlotte’s Web.

Recently Cedric wrapped up his latest role in the feature film Code Name: The Cleaner along side two hot chicks – Lucy Liu and Nicolette Sheridan. Cedric took time out to talk to us about how he prepared for the role, other projects he’s working on, and how he balances his family life with such a busy schedule.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You did television at one point; do you ever plan to go back?

Cedric: Actually, right now I have a deal with ABC to develop and produce a show for myself, as well as over all development deals with other TV shows. I’m in the process of doing that now. We’re working on this show for me and this guy named Larry Fillmore who produced The Bernie Mac Show. We’re actually working on the idea now so I can come back to TV in the fall.

AHHA: Do you miss being on television?

Cedric: The best part about being on television is the opportunity for me to be at home and to go to work and get the job done. I have small kids and their school age. The last few films have all taken me out of the country to do. I don’t want to really be anywhere for three or four months while my kids are stuck in school and can’t come with me. It would be wise for me to do a TV show.

AHHA: How do you balance your family life with your career?

Cedric: It’s definitely a hard thing, because I still do stand-up [comedy], and like I said most of the movies take me out of the country. So it’s really about making sure the family is included in your life and in your world as much as possible. Whenever I do movies out of the country they come and stay with me. I make sure we rent a house and it’s plenty of room for the kids. I make sure we have an opportunity to have a lifestyle while I’m away. With stand-up, I just go out on the weekends and get back home. But at the same time, a couple weekends out of the month, I make sure I am there to do the basketball games, the parks, the zoos, and all that type of stuff.

AHHA: How do you reinvent yourself and your stand-up routine?

Cedric: There are so many hard things about being a comedian. The hardest part is coming up with new material. People think it’s something really easy to do because they say, “Oh he’s crazy” and “He says funny things all the time.” But not all of those things work for the stage. I can say funny jokes literally everyday but not everything can be translated to a wide audience. So it takes some time. And it takes the love of the craft and getting up on the stage and performing as often and whenever you can. With that, it’s also how you try to stay fresh and come up with something new and different. It’s really all about taking new chances and coming up with something different.

AHHA: We saw your HBO special Taking You Higher and thought it was hilarious. Did you create the whole concept?

Cedric: It was a combination. My company and I came up with the concept. I wanted to do something like a throwback of the old big shows where people did it all. I had the right people. My partner, Eric Wall, produced with me, as well as Stan Lathan, who directed with me on The Steve Harvey Show for many years, was also there. They had their way of helping getting the ideas across. I thought it was dope. We kind of rocked it!

AHHA: What other ventures are you working on?

Cedric: I got a couple of movies I’m developing. I’m creating film funds for my production company so we can get into co-financing movies and have more control in producing them. I am looking to develop a couple of movies with smaller budgets where I make cameos in them. I am starting to find good performing actors. I am also looking to do that, as well as creating a few TV shows the same way for my Touchstone deal. I’m starting to really hustle. I’m out here breaking down these curves and breaking down some of these walls that African-American have to deal with.

AHHA: Tell us about this new movie you’re in, Code Name: The Cleaner?

Cedric: The movie is sort of an action/comedy. It’s like a funny version of The Bourne Identity. I play a regular everyday guy – Chuck Rogers – where I get caught up in a situation where I have lost my memory and believe I am a spy for the government. During this process, Nicolette Sheridan is pulling me one way and Lucy Lu is pulling me the other.

AHHA: How were you selected for the role?

Cedric: I actually talked to the producers about the idea early on. Once I got involved as a producer, on the star end it got shaped to be a fun kind of movie in this world of action-comedy. There were some scenes were I was able to shoot guns, kick down some doors and be seen in a different light. I had fun with it.

AHHA: How did you prepare for this role?

Cedric: See, the main thing was trying to look and be someone different than who I usually am. I had to do a few martial arts scenes, so I had to get a few moves down so I could look halfway way decent. Then I had to do some weapons training.

AHHA: Is the overall concept of the movie supposed to be funny?

Cedric: I don’t know what you want to call it. I’m just making fun of the whole thing. I’m just having fun just making fun of the world. I didn’t take myself too serious. But at the same time I wanted to look sharp while doing my kicks and punches.

AHHA: Have you ever felt like another comedian ever imitated your style or material?

Cedric: It happens in this business. You know, of course you can come up with new jokes, do new material and you feel like someone is definitely duplicating your style or trying to come up with a version close to it. It happens pretty often. I think that it’s really all about having your own voice. It’s all about continually trying to write and be fresh; come up with new stuff. I try not to get caught up in that too much. I try to keep coming up and developing my own thing even if I feel like someone blatantly stole my stuff. You have to deal with the newness dawg, because I’m fresh.

AHHA: What advice do you have for any African-American who wants to excel at being a comedian?

Cedric: The main thing is to get on a stage and perform. Don’t worry about blowing up. Build an audience with the live performances. Just get on the stage and perform as often as you possibly can. Have your own original voice and write material – that’s it.

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