The Kings of Comedy Tour and the HBO movie were hugely successful and established Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, DL Hugley and the late Bernie Mack as marketable commodities in the competitive world of entertainment. Soon thereafter, each comedian landed starring roles in self-titled sitcoms or box-office hits. Over the past few years, Steve Harvey's star has risen to 'A-list' status and he has very publicly and passionately attributed his ascent to a renewed relationship with God. One wonders if Steve gave a few pointers to his good friend Cedric the Entertainer, who is now a preacher. Well, actually, he's just playing a preacher on TV Land's new hit show, Soul Man.
Cedric the Entertainer, born Cedric Antonio Kyles, has patiently waited for the project that felt right in his gut and soul. Soul Man is a spin-off from Betty White's TV Land's show Hot in Cleveland, where Cedric's character, Reverend Boyle was introduced. "It's been a long time coming. I had been doing pilots for the last 4 or 5 years until we finally got one that we felt had a real chance," Cedric said. Soul Man which premiered on June 20, 2012 to record numbers, has received favorable reviews mainly due to the strong comedic performances of the show's stars, Cedric, and his television wife played by Niecy Nash.
Reverend Boyle is a former Soul singer who "found God" and now pastors a church in Cleveland, Ohio. Boyle is a very complex and relevant charter in this day and age. Soul Man is about a man with personal issues, family issues and hilarious, occupational issues. Like many preachers who make the headlines and trend on Twitter due to "unclergy-like" actions, Boyle is a man with many faults - despite is vocation. The writers, whom Cedric termed "brilliant," also open the door for skeletons from Boyle's past days as a crooner, to come out of the closet wreck havoc in Boyle's new spiritual world.
Cedric professes to be a comedian first, who loves to teach and learn through comedy -- even finding humor in dangerous terrain like religion and faith. Soul Man, is staunchly based in the world of the church and it a great fit for Cedric, who is a man of faith. He shared, "I grew up in the church. I believe in being good-willed to others, being fair to your fellow man and trying to live in truth and kindness, and helping your fellowman: that's the kind of spirit and behavior that I would consider to be Christ-like."
Soul Man shows that being spiritual and funny are not mutually exclusive characteristics. Cedric says that Soul Man delves into the murky waters being 'real' versus being 'religious.' "What do you do when a friend calls and needs your help, but they actually get on your nerves? The 'Christian thing' is to be helpful, but this person really irritates you. 'What am I supposed to do?' What is the in between of being 'holy' and being 'human'? We are going to have a lot of fun living in the "in between," laughs Cedric. "However, for me the show is also about questioning people's ideas that because you go to church, you are always so right. Even some church-goers take on the aura that 'I don't do any wrong - I don't have short coming or failures' - I want to show that real Christians are not about being sinless but sinning less. If I was ever to fall as a star I wouldn't want people to beat me down because I play a preacher of TV," he continued.
The addition of Soul Man to TV Land's schedule adds the diversity in programming that TV Land desperately wanted and needed. Soul Man's advertising campaign has been geared to attract the African-American audience, however, Cedric strongly believes that Soul Man is a show for everyone. "They (TV Land) are trying to grab the African-American audience. We knew that was something TV Land was trying to do -- to broaden their brand and become a less, white-washed, middle American network that only caters to a particular audience. We believe that the content of the show has the potential to be wider than the targeted audience, like the Cosby's. It can become America's show. The themes and the subject matter are things people can identify with across the board no matter what their race or financial background. They can find humor in this environment," said Cedric.
Throughout Cedric's career, he has incorporated this singing talents within his comedic routines. However, on Soul Man, he leaves the singing in the hands of award-winning artist like Mary Mary, Celo and others, who will guest star periodically. Still. Cedric's love for music keeps him in the studio preparing to release his first solo album. Cedric said, "I've been working on a music project and we are in discussions of how we are going to market it. Its a cooler, jazzier, R&B Sound. I call it SoulSwing -- a cool, eclectic, instrumental-heavy kind of sound." Cedric the Entertainer has millions of fans who are waiting for him to sing an entire song without a joke in the beginning, middle or the end. There's little doubt that his debut album will be a success.
Whether singing or acting, Cedric the Entertainer will always wear the crown of an original king in the The Original Kings of Comedy. Without the talents of Bernie Mac looming so large on the stage with Cedric, Steve and DL, no reunion will ever duplicate the magic of The Original Kings of Comedy. Nevertheless, the dream of a the Original Kings of Comedy II tour may soon become a reality. "I talked to Steve and I talked to DL and Bernie and once, we were really close to doing it, but once Bernie passed - we just didn't feel right about it. Then, there has been talk about adding a person like Kevin Hart or Dave Chappelle or someone like that. In the spirit of it, we feel like it is something that really means something to the culture. It was such a big thing that we would love to do it again so it's all about getting it timed out. I'm interested. I love the ideas and the camaraderie. Of course, it wont be the same without the great "B Mack" but it will be worth it.
Soul Man is a proven hit and Cedric's upcoming album and the reunion of The Original Kings of Comedy will undoubtedly exceed every expectation, in no small part because Cedric the Entertainer puts his heart and soul into everything he does. Now let the church say, "Amen".
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