The event is a fundraising gala for the Rosetta Boyce Kyles Women’s Pavilion at St. Mary’s Health Center, a facility dear to the comedian-actor, who hails from Berkeley.
The pavilion is named for his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and treated at St. Mary’s. She remains a strong fighter of the disease.
“It was great seeing the atmosphere in the hospital being so caring, and it wasn’t just about my mother’s care,” says Cedric the Entertainer (born Cedric Kyles). “I formed a great relationship with the hospital and the staff.”
Cedric the Entertainer had been approached by the hospital, which wanted to construct a women’s pavilion and name it for a woman with a St. Louis connection.
“My name and my mother’s association came up, they approached me and my sister, and we talked to Mom,” he says. “She fell in love with it. That got the ball rolling, and it’s been a great ride coming to this day. This women’s health pavilion is so all women can have the same care and medical experiences.”
As host of the inaugural event, Cedric the Entertainer says he wants the night to be fun but also to get the message across.
“There will be a few important messages from the hospital and Dave Steward (presenting sponsors of the event) and a word or two about their efforts,” he says. “But we’re going to keep the laughs going with me as host, and I’m going to give a nice solid set.”
Cedric the Entertainer says there’s no shortage of comic fodder lately — hackers stealing credit card information, missteps by the Secret Service, the Ebola crisis. But he’s not sure now is the right time to make light of the unrest in Ferguson.
“As a comedian, it’s important to take those areas that are uncomfortable and try to find some humor,” he says. “But I haven’t figured out how to make that a joke yet. But it will be important to have a message at that point in time with that gathering of people there. We want people to be aware of what’s going on in these neighborhoods.”
He says St. Louis is “too great of a city for that type of energy. Some resolve needs to happen, some answers need to happen, some growth needs to happen.”
R&B singer Scott will bring a full show, including a band and lights, he says. “This is going to be a Jill Scott concert. She’s one of my favorite artists.”
Cedric the Entertainer will soon be seen in the Chris Rock movie “Top Five.” He says Rock, who directed and wrote the flick, had been working on the film for about four years and asked him to do a read-through of the script.
Cedric the Entertainer was interested but was busy hosting “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” He left the show when it moved from New York to Connecticut.
“Chris said he’d move the schedule around for me — that I had to do the movie,” says Cedric the Entertainer. He says he identifies with his character, Jazzy Dee. “He’s an ex-drug dealer from the ’80s, who’s now a businessman who does comedy shows.”
He says he knows many of these types of characters, including one considered a St. Louis street legend back in the day named Tommy Tucker. “Every city has somebody who resembles that.”
But Cedric the Entertainer’s character is all his own.
“Chris said to me to be Cedric the Entertainer,” he says. “Most of the stuff is me improvising — just being this guy. I made him up. I knew him inside and out, and that’s why it pops off of the screen.”
Cedric the Entertainer’s TV Land sitcom, “The Soul Man,” is slated to return next year for a fourth season. He says new writers and executive producers on the show are pushing buttons.
Also on tap next year is a new reality show on the CW, “Cedric’s Barber Battle.” He starred in the “Barbershop” movies and will host and serve as the series’ executive producer. The show shot in California, Texas and New York, with St. Louis coming.
“Barbershops are all over St. Louis, and they’re fun to go to,” he says. “There’s some really talented barbers out there — guys really showing their skills, showing the cityscape with the Arch in the background or half of Busch Stadium cut into someone’s head. … I wanted to do something organic to me.”
By Kevin C Johnson/St Louis Today