A man with a gift for wringing laughter from commonplace situations, Cedric the Entertainer has parlayed a career as one of the top standup comics in America into a steadily growing resumé as an actor in film and television. Born Cedric Kyles in 1964, Cedric the Entertainer adopted his stage name early on in his career; having also worked as a singer and dancer, Cedric wanted audiences to know he was more than just another comedian, though after being named "most humorous" in his high school graduating class, he seemed destined early on to be best known for his wit.
Cedric's career as a standup comic got its first major boost when he won the "Johnny Walker National Comedy Contest" in Chicago. This led to regular gigs at nightclubs in his hometown of St. Louis, and a victory in another Chicago comedy competition. With plenty of experience in the Midwest under his belt, Cedric began touring comedy clubs around the United States, and in 1993, he scored his first regular spot on television, as the host of the BET series Comicview. While touring the Southwest, Cedric dropped by a club in Dallas, TX, where the headlining act was not going over with the audience. Cedric persuaded the management to let him do a set, and his five-minute routine brought down the house. Cedric soon discovered fellow comic Steve Harvey was in the audience. The two rising stars struck up a friendship, and when Harvey scored his own sitcom, The Steve Harvey Show, in 1996, he brought Cedric along to play his friend, Cedric Jackie Robinson. Cedric was a hit on the show, and his work on the series earned him the NAACP Image Award as Best Supporting Actor on a Comedy Series three years in a row.
In 1997, Cedric and Harvey joined forces with funnymen Bernie Mac and D.L. Hughley for a concert tour. Billed as The Kings of Comedy, the tour was a major success, selling out large venues across the country and grossing 37 million dollars over a two-year run. After his success on The Steve Harvey Show and with the Kings of Comedy tour, it was inevitable that Hollywood would come calling, and Cedric scored his first screen role in 1998 in the comedy Ride. The Original Kings of Comedy, a concert film shot by Spike Lee during a tour stop in North Carolina, hit theaters in 2000, and Cedric was also seen that year in the Martin Lawrence vehicle Big Momma's House. In 2001, Cedric scored a supporting role in the comedy-drama Kingdom Come, and did voice work for Dr. Dolittle 2 as well as the animated television series The Proud Family.
As one of the stars of 2002's Barbershop, Cedric showed Hollywood that he could deliver a major box-office hit, and larger film roles soon followed. After a scene-stealing turn in the Coen Brothers' 2003 Intolerable Cruelty, Cedric geared up for what looked to be his biggest year to date. 2004 saw the comedian with starring roles in the sequel to Barbershop, Johnson Family Vacation, and the big-screen adaptation of the classic sitcom The Honeymooners, as well as prominent supporting parts in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, with Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep, and Be Cool, the long-awaited sequel to Get Shorty.
He lent his distinctive voice to a number of animated projects including the Madagascar films and the live-action Charlotte's Web. He also acted in projects as diverse as Talk to Me, Code Name: The Cleaner, Cadillac Records, and Tom Hanks' sophomore directorial effort Larry Crowne.
When not making people laugh in person or onscreen, Cedric has an interest in charitable work, and in St. Louis he's established the Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation, which helps to fund youth scholarships and family outreach programs in his hometown.