Cedric The Entertainer is headed back to television in his first sitcom since The Steve Harvey Show. In the Hot in Cleveland spinoff, The Soul Man, Cedric plays an one-time raunchy R&B singer who becomes a reverend. The series, co-created by Cedric and Hot in Cleveland creator Suzanne Martin, explores the challenges he and his family face adjusting from a glamorous music star lifestyle to a quieter, more humble spiritual existence.
BET.com checked in with the funnyman to find out more about his character, whether he feels any pressure to uphold the race with his new sitcom and what he thinks of his new co-star Niecy Nash.
Tell me the backstory on your character Reverend Boyce.
I wanted him to be an R&B singer who sang really dirty songs. So it would be inappropriate for this guy to become a minister at any point in his life. The deal is he was a preacher’s son and there was this expectation for him to always be in the church business. But I ended up singing these kinds of songs against my father’s will and I go off into the world and I become a big success.
So how does he end up finding religion?
I find myself having the calling to do something greater and speak to a greater audience. And I come back as a guy who’s lived the world and lived the life. I’m a guy who can meet you where you are. And I can help you. That’s the whole thing with Soul Man, he’s dealing with the soul.
Since there are so few Black comedies on TV, did you in feel any pressure to represent African-Americans in any particular way?
You got to carry the whole flag as an African-American-led show; you’ve got to carry the flag for the whole community. It ain’t really just yourself. Folks are like, "Black shows gotta work Ced! You got to be out there and hold it up for the Black!" And I’m like, "Yo that’s [President] Barack’s [Obama] job." We already got someone holding up the whole Black part. Let me just do this, make some people laugh and have a good show.
What kind of humor can audiences expect from The Soul Man?
It will be universal because of the stories and the experiences. It will be a show that everyone will like to watch, like The Cosby Show. After a while you just kind of lose color and just like the show. It will be funny.
Niecy Nash plays your wife, what was it about her that made her perfect for the role?
Niecy is amazing, outrageous and funny. She’s a very talented actress, but she has a personality that can bring you to the Lucy-esque place. She’s fun to be around, very cool, very loving and very easy…now. Now, you never know once you get two three seasons in. You know how people get. You know what I’m saying? I ain’t forecasting or nothing, I’m just saying, I said it, and we got it on tape. You never know, it might end up, "Oh Niecy walked off the set." And people will be like, "What? Ced said she was so cool." And I’ll be like, "See? I told you she might trip [laughs]."
The Soul Man premieres on TV Land in June.
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(Photo: Phil McCarten/PictureGroup)