Cedric the Entertainer uses his punchlines to branch out and give back during Netflix Is a Joke

?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcalifornia times brightspot.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fe3%2F25%2F52609da249eca9f14e53ed6e040e%2Fla photos 1staff 812472 en cedric the entertainer 23 mjc

Having recently turned 60, Cedric the Entertainer has more than lived up to the stage name that stuck on a whim nearly 40 years back.

“ComicView,” “Def Comedy Jam,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” the seminal “Original Kings of Comedy” tour/Spike Lee concert film and “Barbershop” were only the beginnings of a career that consciously paired growth with giving back.

The last decade alone saw the multi-hyphenate performer host top game shows plus the Emmys, earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and continue reinventing sitcoms with “The Soul Man,” “The Last OG” and current CBS hit “The Neighborhood,” which was just renewed for its seventh season. Along the way he’s voiced animated classics, won six NAACP Image awards, and even has a debut historical-crime novel, “Flipping Boxcars,” out this September from HarperCollins imprint Amistad.

Simultaneously, his Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation has funded outreach programs and hundreds of student scholarships in his home state of Missouri. And last fall the 10th annual Cedric the Entertainer Celebrity Golf Classic — traditionally held at Ventura County’s Spanish Hills Golf Club — relocated to Cabo San Lucas benefiting L.A.’s Kyles Family Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Camarillo. Even his own Zetta wine, made in collaboration with Napa Valley’s Smith Devereux Wines, was named after his schoolteacher mother and shares profits with literacy programs.

The stand-up’s new ComedyPays.com project with producer Aaron Kaplan “gives a little boost” to up-and-coming talent, with weekly winners receiving $1,000 for submitting the funniest onstage joke.

“We’ve looked at it as an interesting talent search,” he says. “And to have a comedian like myself recognize you and say, ‘I saw your joke, and I thought you were great,’ that’s sometimes all the encouragement people need to keep going.”

Cedric the Entertainer resumes hosting duties Wednesday, when All-Star catcher Will Smith presents “Dodgers Comedy Night” at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the Netflix Is a Joke Festival. Proceeds benefit Smith’s Catching Hope foundation for at-risk and low-income youth. Recently The Times caught up with Cedric to talk about how the Dodgers comedy event came together, paying tribute to Sinbad, working out new material at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank and his stand-up directorial debut.

How did hosting Netflix Is a Joke’s “Dodgers Comedy Night” come about?

Netflix is the preeminent place for comedy these days, it’s a big celebration, everybody’s going to be in L.A. so you want to be a part of it somehow.

Me growing up in St. Louis, [the Cardinals] was our most consistent and top championship team of all, especially in my lifetime. Baseball was a big part of my background, and I have a great loyalty to the Cardinals. When I go to the game out here, sometimes I get in trouble for having all my Cardinals stuff on. They take their Dodgers very serious here.

I co-hosted Clayton Kershaw’s tournament, his ping-pong charity event, last summer down at the stadium. We had a good time with it, and I think a lot of the players saw me at that point and just thought I was cool? I’ve done some things with manager Dave Roberts as a part of my “Greatest @Home” TV show, where he’s participated in making some little kid’s dreams come true and bringing them to the ball game with his grandfather. And of course I’ve been knowing Magic Johnson, and he’s an owner in that group [Guggenheim Baseball Management], for many years. So I was honored to do this with Will and his wife Cara, and support their charity.

Did you have any say in hosting the lineup: Dusty Slay, Felipe Esparza, Heather McMahan, Justin Willman and Tom Papa?

No, but I’ve worked with Felipe a few times this year. He’s a funny guy and really unique onstage. Tom Papa is an OG that I’ve been knowing for many years as well. And I love new comedians. I love to hear new voices and people that just got to do something unique. So some of the comedians I don’t know, but I know if they’re invited here, then people want to hear their voices and what they got to say. It’s going to be a good time. I’m going to make sure of that. That’s what my job is.

I did want to do the big tribute to Sinbad. I’d planned to pop by there that night, but realized I had to be in New York. So I won’t be able to come, but I definitely want people to go and see it. [Monday’s “The Sinbad Tribute Show” at YouTube Theater benefits the Sinbad Special Needs Trust.] He’s just a comedic legend. So many comedians got a lot of love for him, and he suffered some health issues in the past few years.

You’ll see a really special show, because all of my friends and contemporaries and everybody that loves Sinbad plans on popping in that night. You’re going to be getting some cool surprises on who’s going to pop out onstage.

How has the L.A. comedy scene, or even the nature of live comedy itself, changed over the years?

I actually just happened to stop in on this little small place called the Comedy Chateau. I’d never been there before. It was fun, energetic, everybody was having a good time. I’ll pop in on the mainstage clubs every now and then. My favorite place to go to work out is Flappers in Burbank, if I ever need to hop on stage. They were really great for me when I was doing my Netflix special back in 20…? I don’t know. It’s been some years.

But I really appreciated that. And so those are the places I go. But comedy has changed. So many new voices popping on the stage, a lot of new styles of comedy, things that are just different in its approach. Some guys don’t even deliver jokes anymore. They just walk up and talk and figure it out. You’re like, “OK, that was … wow … that was therapy!” Our job is mainly to go out there and try to get people some relief from their regular life. And if you have a way of doing that by just speaking your truth and you make others feel good and they laughed, so be it. I love it.

The new Kookaburra Lounge is opening as part of Netflix Is a Joke, after which you will be directing a stand-up special there for your first time.

Malik S is one of my strong opening acts, a very funny young comedian from Miami. He’s been writing on ‘The Neighborhood” since the beginning, but he actually wrote on my TV show “Soul Man” too. He wanted to do a comedy special, and he asked me to direct it since I’ve been part of his career and know his stand-up and everything. I’ve been directing episodes of “The Neighborhood,” so this was an exciting opportunity for me to direct my first special.

I’ve watched him many years. When he first started opening for me, he was extremely raw. I called him my “shotgun rider.” He would go out before me and make sure that audience is paying attention. His comedy was very aggressive and straight-to-your-face and made sure you had to be paying attention. So by the time I came to the stage, it was to people there that were ready for comedy. They weren’t going to be talking. They knew they couldn’t do that, because Malik had set the tone straight.

And now he’s writing on TV shows and doing all these things with really interesting perspectives on life. It’s very edgy and unique and not from a point of view that I feel is “safe.” He says things that are really applicable to his life, and sometimes they can be controversial, but I like that. He is bold and a straight shooter and experimenter. He likes to take chances on material and things that come in his head. I think people will be pleasantly surprised by his special. And by knowing him like that, his personality and who he is, tonally that’s what I can find in my direction: Making sure that he comes off not as just a guy telling jokes, but someone who we’re going to give you an experience about who he is.

We went by the new Kookaburra Lounge, their new great comedy venue inside the Hollywood and Highland center. Beautifully done. Got kind of a Art Deco, retro feel to it. Sexy, great room, great staff, everybody was really excited to have us there. So on May 23, we plan to do two shows. I’ll just do a little few minutes of hosting and get the vibe good. And then I got to go put on my director’s beret and my little bullhorn, my long boots.

It’s going to be a really great time, and this is something special. I think people will love this venue and people will start doing comedy there as a place to, one, probably shoot specials at a beautiful-looking venue, but also just to go and kill it. I think it’s going to be a great new comedy venue in the city.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top