Cedric the Entertainer (born Cedric Kyles) has been a comedic force since the early '90s, from hosting BET's “Comic View” to being anointed one of “The Original Kings of Comedy” by Spike Lee's concert film in 2000, to starring as the lovably cranky Eddie in Ice Cube's “Barbershop” films.
“He's one of the O.G.s, one of the all-time greats,” Cube (né O'Shea Jackson) declares in the intro to “Live from the Ville,” last year's Netflix special.
The Entertainer will be back in town next week to headline Tacoma Comedy Club on June 23 and 24, and last week he took a few minutes to discuss his new set and the controversies surrounding a couple of his peers. But first ...
Tacoma Weekly: Let's get this out of the way. I've got a little bone to pick with you.
Cedric: Ohhhh s---.
TW: I got excited when your special was called “Live from the Ville,” but you went to the wrong Ville. I'm from Louisville.
Cedric: (He laughs.) I grew up in a small town called Caruthersville, Missouri. My dad lives in Memphis, so Nashville ended up being a place I thought he could get to the best. But the whole idea was I wanted to be in a “ville.” Louisville is always awesome, though. That's a good town.
TW: Well, you're coming here now, and I wonder if you have any memories of performing or hanging out in this market. I think you were at the Emerald Queen last time.
Cedric: Yeah, exactly. The Emerald Queen, that was a great show. I remember having Marshawn Lynch's mom there. That was great, and you could see where Marshawn gets that serious attitude from. I actually went to the game the next day where they played the Green Bay Packers and had that great game, so that was one of the big memories.
I always love it up there, man. I shot a small movie (2012's “Grassroots” where) I played a politician on the Seattle side. I had the opportunity to go out on the waterways on a boat. It's beautiful country up there, man, (with) good food. That's what I like about coming up that way.
TW: What are you riffing on in your set?
Cedric: A lot of family stuff that's going on with me lately. I've got a son who's on his way, supposedly, out of high school; but he doesn't seem to ambitious about that.
TW: Uh oh.
Cedric: He's not gonna join the military. He doesn't really care about college. I don't know what's gonna happen with this guy, you know. (He chuckles.) There's that, and I've got a grand baby. (It's) my first time being a grandfather. (I do) a little Trump stuff, but I'm not beatin' him up too much.
TW: Obviously, you play bigger rooms all the time. Are you shaping up material for a special? Are you planning on shooting one later this year?
Cedric: No, no, I'm probably gonna wait 'cause my special came out in September for Netflix. I'm still in that early stage. I'm still working material out and working new material in. If you've seen the special, you may see some of the jokes, but they've kind of morphed into new things. There's also newer things being worked into the show.
That is the hard part of what we do as comedians. You expect, in normal audiences, people who have never seen you at all, so you want to make sure they have a great time; and then for those who are huge fans, you wanna make sure that they get that new energy that they expect from you, as well.
TW: Totally switching gears, I want to ask you a hypothetical question I asked D.L. Hughley a couple of years ago. Obviously, no one could replace Bernie Mack. But let's say Spike Lee wanted to do a sequel to “Original Kings.” Who would you recruit to be one of the kings?
Cedric: There's so many worthy guys out there that are all kind of doing their thing. When you think about “Kings of Comedy” in this day and age, there's Chris Rock, there's Dave Chappelle, there's Kevin Hart - George Lopez. I like a lot of the cool, hot, young guys. I like Lil Rel. I like DeRay Davis. I like Gary Owen.
There's a lot of guys that are starting to make a name for themselves. I don't know if they necessarily get the status of king, but there are people that are worthy to be on that stage and have people see their material. They're just funny and unique, and great guys. Gerard Carmichael is proving to be really strong; Katt Williams if he's not in jail. You'd be like, “It'll be a great show, but one of the kings is actually locked up in a dungeon.”
TW: A couple of your peers got in trouble this week. (The interview took place on June 8.) Everyone's talking about the Bill Maher controversy, and probably no one's happier about that than Kathy Griffin. Do you think the controversy is warranted in each case?
Cedric: I come from that era of comedy where it was just in the room. You'd perform in front a live audience. Nobody had phones, nobody taped. You had the right to say things that were kind of off-color. You had the room to try a joke that you weren't sure was gonna work or not.
You go for it sometime. I think Kathy Griffin went for it. I think in Bill Maher's case, he went for it. …
Was it offensive? Sure, but it was a joke. You apologize, it's over. I think Kathy Griffin went a little long with hers in making a big deal. Really, what was more offensive; the head cut off or her coming on TV without makeup? My kids are watching this, Kathy Griffin. You've gotta give us warning.
7:30 and 10:30 p.m. June 23; 6, 8:30 and 11 p.m. June 24
Tacoma Comedy Club, 933 Market St.
Tickets are $45 to $65; www.tacomacomedyclub.com