In 2002, Cedric the Entertainer found himself in a mess of controversy when in the film Barbershop, his smack-talking character Eddie pontificated that Rosa Parks wasn't a hero because she didn't give up her bus seat to a white man -- she was just "tired." Eddie also noted that O.J. was guilty, Rodney King deserved to get the crap kicked out of him, and MLK did more than just preach on some of his road trips.
The comments sparked a firestorm in the African-American community. But Cedric wasn't fazed. After all, it wasn't the first time he'd made fun of his own. The actor-comedian recalls how he excelled at his job as a claims adjuster for State Farm Insurance before he got into comedy: "I was the only one in the office who could speak English and angry Negro. An angry black man would come in and scream, 'I'm gonna blow this muthafucka up!' White people would freak. I'd say, 'C'mon people, it's bravado: black people don't have bombs. He ain't blowing anything up. His credit can't buy no dynamite.'"
Such cultural insight vaulted Cedric from a member of the Original Kings of Comedy (which included Steve Harvey, Bernie Mac and D.L. Hughley) to bona fide star of his own variety show and to roles in films like
Big Momma's House, Intolerable Cruelty and Johnson Family Vacation, which he starred in and produced.
Now he's on tour, perfecting material for his standup act for an upcoming HBO special. Expect takes on his life as a star and the struggles of filming his upcoming flick The Cleaner --where he plays a janitor who thinks he's a hitman -- in Vanvcouver, British Columbia. "It gets rough when I'm in a bar watching the Olympics," he says, "and I'm surrounded by Canadians. But I've used that dynamite thing a couple of times. I threaten them: 'I'll blow this sucka up! Canadians are really passive, man, they're afraid of bombs.'"
Fri., March 3, 8 & 10:30 p.m.; Sat., March 4, 8 & 10:30 p.m.