Entertainment

Cedric the Entertainer juggling two shows at once

Posted June 14, 2018 3:10 p.m. EDT

ATLANTA -- When you add the word "entertainer" to your name, you have a reputation to live up to. Over the past two decades, Cedric "the Entertainer" Kyles has managed to keep audiences happy in a variety of venues, from stand-up to sitcoms to films.

So far, 2018 has been one of the most fruitful years of his career. He joined what is now TBS's most successful original comedy to date, "The Last O.G." starring comeback kid Tracy Morgan and rising star Tiffany Haddish. He is receiving kudos for his role as a preacher in the serious dramatic film with Ethan Hawke, "First Reformed." And he is the lead in a new CBS comedy "The Neighborhood" set to debut this fall.

Plus, he is now entering the fourth year of doing a package tour with George Lopez, Eddie Griffin and D.L. Hughley called "The Comedy Get Down." The group makes its third visit to Atlanta, arriving at the Fox Theatre June 23 for two shows.

"We love to make each other laugh," he said. "We're like a Rat Pack group of guys. ... I prefer to be out on the road. I like it!"

The success of this tour group harkens back to Cedric's breakthrough on the "Kings of Comedy" tour in the late 1990s that led to the Spike Lee film of the same name. That quartet included Hughley, the now ubiquitous Steve Harvey and the late Bernie Mac.

With Harvey too busy to do stand-up and Bernie Mac's untimely death in 2008, that group will never reunite. "We were thinking of getting back together at some point, but he couldn't fly," said Cedric, alluding to Mac's sarcoidosis, which led to his passing.

Cedric is heartened to see "The Last O.G." connect with audiences and enjoys playing Mullins, who runs the halfway house where Morgan's character Tray has to live after getting out of prison. The comedic twist is Tray's old neighborhood had gentrified in the 15 years since he was incarcerated.

"Tracy plays a more serious character," he said. "I'm more the comic relief, the joker, the card. I have a lot of fun. I'm able to improv a lot."

Coincidentally, Cedric's new CBS series also centers around gentrification. In this case, he plays Calvin Butler, a proud, long-time resident of a black neighborhood when a white Midwestern family moves next door. Calvin is not happy.

"He's a slow burn," he said. "He's a modern-day reverse Archie Bunker. His new neighbor is a psychoanalyst and is into all that touchy-feely nonsense. I'm hard-core old school. If you break a leg, run it off!"

CBS, the most traditional of all broadcast networks, has not been known for bringing in diverse casts so giving Cedric a lead role is a big deal.

"I think people are excited about a show where we can hit some buttons," he said. "We also have a great cast." His wife, for instance, is Tichina Arnold, fresh off meaty roles in two shows produced in Atlanta ("Survivor's Remorse," "Daytime Divas").

Unfortunately, given that he can't be two places at once, obligations to the CBS show will force Cedric to cut back on the number of episodes of "The Last O.G." he can do for season two. The TBS show re-starts production in July. "The Neighborhood," a traditional three-camera comedy with a live audience, begins in August.

Cedric told TMZ that Morgan's recent negative outburst regarding Haddish was a result of fatigue and incessant questioning about her. He said he later watched the entire interview, not just the clip Vulture showed, and contextually, he said he was right.

"I get how he was feeling. You're doing 10 interviews and everyone is asking questions about Tiffany," he said. "This isn't all about Tiffany. I think they used that clip for click bait and that became the story."

Story Filed By Cox Newspapers

For Use By Clients of the New York Times News Service