Cedric the Entertainer heralds in new year at Fox


EVENT PREVIEW

New Year's Eve Black Comedy Explosion featuring Cedric the Entertainer. 8 p.m. Dec. 31. $63.65 to $143.50 after fees. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-881-2100, www.foxtheatre.org.

ON TV

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” noon and 12:30 p.m. weekdays, Peachtree TV

Cedric the Entertainer (real name: Cedric Antonio Kyles) has been hosting New Year’s comedy shows for years, changing the city each time. This year, he chose the Fox Theatre in Atlanta to herald in 2014.

But he said attendees won’t be toasting with champagne in the audience at midnight. He has tried doing the countdown on stage at midnight, but it doesn’t seem to work as well. People, he said, would rather be elsewhere. So he ends the show at 11 p.m., giving folks time to get home or hit a bar or club in time to sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

The 49-year-old actor (TV Land’s “Soul Man”) and game show host (“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) will perform a one-hour set of his signature genial stand-up comedy after a few warm-up acts. “I love doing stand-up,” he said, no matter what else is on his plate.

Cedric’s career broke open as part of “The Steve Harvey Show” in the mid-1990s. He and part-time Atlantan Harvey, another comic who has two shows on the air at the same time (“Family Feud” and his own talk show), later joined the popular “Kings of Comedy” tour. They have remained close friends to this day.

Harvey told Cedric how hosting “Family Feud” in 2010 helped broaden Harvey’s appeal into Middle America and paved his way to his syndicated talk show, now an equally big success. So when Cedric had an opportunity to take over hosting duties for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” from Meredith Vieira, he jumped at the chance.

“I’m able to make it my own,” Cedric said. “Ratings are up. People are loving it. I get to have fun and show off my personality. At the same time, I’m learning new skills. I have to keep the game moving and the rules intact and allow people to gamble a bit.”

His foray into TV Land has been a challenge. His sitcom “Soul Man,” where he plays a preacher, was relegated to an 11 p.m. slot its second season, which impacted ratings negatively. “I was on eggshells waiting for it to get renewed,” he said. But TV Land recently granted the show a third season, and next year, it will be paired in an earlier time slot with the network’s top-rated original program “Hot in Cleveland.”

Cedric is also thrilled that “The Steve Harvey Show” has held up so well in syndication, 11 years removed from its final episode. “People still come up to me and sing ‘When the Funk Hits the Fan’ and ‘Break Me Off a Piece of That Funk,’ ” two songs he sang regularly on the show.

He said in the mid-1990s, he had an opportunity to do his own show but chose to ride shotgun beside Harvey. “I chose to play the back role and learn,” he said. “That was one of the greatest strategies in my career. It allowed me a chance to watch him and come up with my own plan.”

While in Atlanta for the show, he plans to take his two kids (ages 10 and 13) to the Georgia Aquarium and the King Center but local colleges as well. “I know it’s early but I was impressed as a kid when my mom got a master’s degree. Being on a college campus and seeing those majestic buildings leaves an impression.”

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