(Editor’s note: The interview with Cedric the Entertainer took place at the production offices of his sitcom “The Neighborhood” several days before social distancing and self-quarantine became the norm. Less than a week later, CBS TV Studios and producers shut down production of season 2 of the show. There were only two days left of shooting.)
Pres. Donald Trump may be an easy target for comedians, but Cedric the Entertainer has been refraining lately from taking shots at the Commander in Chief.
“Whenever you’re in comedy, you’re doing shows, usually there’s going to be a few other comedians on stage, and at this stage in my career, more than likely I’m going last or close to last,” Cedric says on this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket. “So you already know that people have beat Trump to death by this time. On any given night, there’s 50 million Trump jokes. So I started to stay away from it.”
“The Neighborhood” focuses on what happens when Midwesterner Dave Johnson (Max Greenfield) and his family move next door to Calvin Butler (Cedric) in a predominately black neighborhood in Los Angeles. It’s expected to be picked up for a third season.
Since making the jump from stand-up comedy to acting in 1995, Cedric has appeared in countless films and television shows.
He also using his platform to get out the vote. He recently endorsed Joe Biden. “I do want to encourage people to just be engaged for sure. Get out and vote, be involved, learn, read, pick a side though. One way or the other, pick a side and go for that,” he said.
That doesn’t mean he can’t be bipartisan — at least when it comes to his personal relationships. “I remember early on in Trump’s candidacy, people had real falling outs with friends,” Cedric says. “I’ve got a great friend who is a Trump dude, and he still to this day makes me laugh a lot, but he’s a Trump guy. I remember I had friends like, ‘How do you even hang out with this dude?’ I’m like, ‘If we talked about Trump the whole time we was together, that’d be one thing,’ but he’s been my friend before and I didn’t even know he was a Trump dude until this thing came out. He is who he is.”
Cedric doesn’t miss a beat when asked which real-life politician he’d like to see on “The Neighborhood. “Barack, man,” he says, laughing. “Come on, that’s an easy call.”
But then he drops names like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. “There’s something about Elizabeth Warren I like as a feisty campaigner,” he says. “I wasn’t really sure if she was going to be really the right president, but she is tough as nails and you’ve got to just love that. She seems like the sweet little lady with the sweater on, going to make some tea, but she is gangster with it. Somebody like that would be fun to have on this TV show, just to have them show up in this environment.”
Cedric also confirmed that he’s thought about a Kings of Comedy reunion. It’s been 20 years since the release of “The Original Kings of Comedy,” a stand-up comedy film featuring Cedric, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and the late Bernie Mac. “It seems like it may be actually getting a little closer,” Cedric revealed, adding, “There’s some talks of possibly doing a very limited run for the fun of it, doing like a 12-city run.”
It’s a far cry from Cedric’s early days in the business. He recalls being heckled during a gig in Little Rock, Arkansas. “I had a two-night set, and I was performing, and this dude just was, he wouldn’t stop, we’d start going back and forth, it was fun. Then he just went there with the whole N-word thing, and then I’m expecting the manager to just go out there and say something to him and shut it down, and they don’t,” he remembers. “Then the guy threatens me even more…I’m out there by myself at this time. I don’t have an entourage or anything during this period in my career. So I go back, I get into with the manager, and we argue and he just pays me for my one day and let me go, and just acts like, ‘Hey, I can’t do nothing about that. This is Arkansas, man.’”
You can listen to the entire interview with Cedric below. You can also find “The Big Ticket” on iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.