Cedric the Entertainer

Cedric the Entertainer

To kids who watch the "Madagascar" movies, Cedric the Entertainer is Maurice, the aye-aye. To those who kick back at comedy clubs, he's an original from "The Kings of Comedy."

He's also hosting and producing NBC's "It's Worth What?" Tuesdays.

"It's a modern-day 'Let's Make a Deal' mixed with 'Antiques Roadshow' and 'Pawn Stars,' " he says.

Though born Cedric Antonio Kyles, a club owner dubbed him Cedric the Entertainer early on because he sang, danced and read poetry. He explains that he needed to fill the time to make more money.

He's also starred in David Mamet's "American Buffalo" on Broadway and wants to return to the stage. He writes songs and is launching a hat line. Cedric the Entertainer does something less known yet truly important.

He's funded scholarships for scores of St. Louis high-school graduates. "It's something my sister and I did early on," he says. "My mother was an educator. If kids get a shot at it and get a chance, then they can strive for what they wanted to do. There are a lot of great success stories."

As is he. After graduating from college and landing a good job as an insurance adjuster, stand-up comedy beckoned.

The best advice he received was "anti-advice," he says. He doesn't name the comedian who told him "in order for me to make it I couldn't be as black as I was onstage, and he was a black guy."

So he tried changing himself, and at a meeting with network executives he bombed. He then watched his pal, Steve Harvey, go "into a tirade, and it was so urban and so him, and I just remember this audience laughing so hard."

Harvey was just telling the truth, Cedric says, and it was a lesson well learned.

"It is all about being yourself," he says.

Favorite books: " 'Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun? How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Empire.' I usually give my friends a chance to read that book. I like James Patterson. I have been enjoying 'Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon.' "

Favorite movies: " 'Limitless,' The 'Godfathers.' I can watch those whenever they're on. 'A Low Down Dirty Shame' OK, don't judge me. It's my guilty pleasure. It just has little fine quotables all throughout the movie. 'Presumed Innocent,' 'Clear and Present Danger.' "

Favorite music: "I listen to Jay-Z, then it is Marvin Gaye for me. I love Sade. I am a big fan of Kanye West. I like his writing style. He is innovative, as far as a rapper. Then the Isley Brothers and the Ohio Players."