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July 14, 2014, 8:08 am

Cedric the Entertainer to perform at Tower

Actor, comedian and director Cedric Antonio Kyles — better known to audiences as Cedric The Entertainer — will take the stage at the Tower Theater on Feb. 12.

With a long list of impressive credits to back him up, Cedric, born in Missouri and the son of a school teacher, is probably best known as the co-star of the WB sitcom “The Steve Harvey Show,” and one of the four comedians featured in the Spike Lee film “The Original Kings of Comedy.”

“I was a mass communications major at Southeast Missouri State University, but I grew up always knowing I was funny,” he says. “But in order to make a living I had do to a lot of stuff, like selling fax machines, working as a substitute teacher, even a claims adjuster for State Farm Insurance.”

Still, his funny bone never left him and one day, while out at a comedy club with some friends, he was dared to go up on stage and perform.

“I did,” he remembers, “and the first time I got up on stage I won $500. That was it. I was hooked and I never looked back.”

Soon, he got the opportunity to tour with Funny Bones, a national comedy club that provided him with a good enough salary that he could quit his insurance job and be funny full time.

It was while on the comedy circuit that he acquired his now famous moniker. “You know, comedy is all about timing. There’s the opening act who gets about 10 minutes on stage. Then there’s the feature act who gets about 30 minutes. And then comes the headliner who does an hour. I wanted to be the one who stood out, but I didn’t have a lot of material, so I sang songs, did poetry, painted pictures, whatever I had to do.”

Soon they were saying he was very entertaining, “but the MC kept calling me a comedian,” Cedric explains. “I told him not to call me a comic but an entertainer instead, so he started calling me Cedric the Entertainer. And the name just stuck.”

He soon proved himself to be the consummate entertainer, doing his first TV appearances on “It’s Showtime at the Apollo,” HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and BET’s “Comic View.” Cedric was one of the Grand Prize Winners of the Miller Lite Comedy Search along with fellow comedian Bernie Mac. In 1994, Cedric also won the Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award from BET.

By 1996, Cedric had moved into acting, playing Steve Harvey’s friend on the sitcom “The Steve Harvey Show.” Over the years more and more roles came his way, even appearing on Broadway in the revival of “American Buffalo.”

He made his directorial debut with “Dance Fu,” and was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2008.

And when he’s not busy with all his artistic endeavors, Cedric continues his involvement with his old high school by awarding a scholarship each year to a graduating senior through his Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation Inc. The foundation’s motto is, “Reaching Out … Giving Back.”

“I look on it as my responsibility to be able to influence youth and people who are less privileged. I want to be able to give them motivation and encouragement, to find something to be rewarding in their lives. If you can contribute to the circular motion of a better world by putting better people in it, if you an change someone’s day just by being a nice guy, I believe you can send good energy out there and it’ll end up coming back to you.”

For times and ticket information, call (800) 745-3000.