A throwback with a keen sense of humor, Cedric the Entertainer hosts and performs in a new variety series that takes its cue from the big comedy variety shows of yesteryear, the premise that also fuels Buena Vista’s sharp new daytimer, “The Wayne Brady Show.” Cedric does it, in the pilot at least, without guests, leaving the comedy in his capable hands and proving that this Bud Light pitchman has a range beyond the shaking of beers and butts.
Skits in “Cedric the Entertainer Presents” are consistently sharp and never try to go too far; unlike other sketch comedy shows, “Presents” maintains a sharp focus. Pilot opens with “Que hora es?,” the soap opera for “people who only had three weeks of Spanish in the fourth grade.” And by using simple phrases, numbers and greetings, delivered in over-the-top dramatic style, Cedric and his buds whip up considerable hysterics. Segment on jingle writers is the debut show’s only misstep.
Show sparkles with two of Cedric’s characters: the Cafeteria Lady who doles out insults with the mashed potatoes; and a Barry White-like marriage counselor. Cedric uses his ample girth to his advantage and his cast of characters have a charming universality to them that keeps the humor from skewing too young, too hip or too ethnic. Cedric the Entertainer’s career has been rocketing since his appearance as a standup comedian in “Kings of Comedy,” and “Presents” should continue that trajectory.
“Presents” adds a nice touch by going to black and white for behind the scenes footage. Collection of female dancers, too, adds a nice touch. In an earlier incarnation, their presence was too much, and the attempt to incorporate them into Cedric’s humor emphasized the slapstick too much. In the pilot, they’re a pinch underutilized, but deliver a pro effort.