Cedric the Entertainer November 4, 2007
By Glen Creason
In a Sunday matinee performance at the Performing Arts Center, seemingly as out of place as a hot, hip hop artist in Branson, Missouri, Cedric the Entertainer lived up to his exalted comedy reputation with gales of laughter to spare. He took the stage looking clean in a finely tailored suit and fedora and he held the big crowd in his talented hands for almost two solid hours of merriment. Cedric’s film career seems to be moving upward rapidly since the hit movie “the Kings of Comedy” but his true genius is standup and at this show he pulled out every hilarious trick in his thick book. Cedric is no overnight sensation and earned his stars the hard way, out on the road working clubs, honing his superb physical comedy chops, creating characters, developing impressions of singers and sharpening his timing down to absolute perfection. He definitely does sweat some but he makes it look easy, and it most certainly is not easy to make an entire hall laugh uproariously for 90 minutes plus. At this show several fans in the near vicinity seemed to be having some trouble getting their wind due to gut laughs that doubled them over in glee. The man has a gift and many times just the look on his face brought the crowd to hysterics.
The show seems to be just plain stream of consciousness with no notes or set pieces but it flows without a moment’s hesitation from start to finish. Cedric uses the foolishness of celebrities for some of his fodder but much of the best stuff comes right out of his southern upbringing and the foibles of common folk. The routines draw from a broad range of experience and capture the essence of working class America but the show is most certainly sweetly flavored by the rich African-American tradition in which Cedric dwells most comfortably. To be sure the inside jokes color the material but this is a performance that tickles everyone, from every race, color, gender, creed or musical persuasion. As an old Motown-loving Boomer I don’t own a 50cent Album but I cracked up when Cedric sang his stuff even over-the-top for hip hop.
All this was done quite amazingly without one single blue joke, one curse word or any dwelling on sexual situations. The same Cedric who owned the movie “Barbershop” with his obscenity-laced tirades and the man who hyphenated plenty of old Anglo-Saxon words in “Kings of Comedy” just culled the blue out of his show with a skill you can only call brilliant. With no cussing, no sexual shenanigans and literally no locker room humor Cedric the Entertainer knocked the place out with his brilliant pantomime, song stylings, and amazingly delightful storytelling skills. Maybe the 7 pm show was different but it seemed like the comedian has so much talent he can pick and choose his method and just let it flow. On this afternoon it worked with tremendous success, demonstrated by a few thousand broadly smiling faces in the big hall.