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.