Talk about truth in advertising. It takes cojones to name yourself "Cedric the Entertainer," considering that if your act sucks you're practically begging for snarky newspaper headlines. But Cedric Kyles knew what he was doing when he selected the nom de stage for his high school singing gigs. Back then, St. Louis-area venues booked him for his baritone voice and his smooth dance moves, but the crooner soon found he liked vamping at the mike even more. Comedian Steve Harvey gave Cedric his first big break in 1989, handing the budding comic a five-minute spot at his influential Dallas comedy club. Cedric got a standing ovation -- and quit his day job.
Cedric caught on quickly with an African-American fan base while hosting BET's Comic View and playing Cedric Jackie Robinson on the WB's hit comedy The Steve Harvey Show. Between tapings, Cedric and Harvey teamed up with D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac on the hugely successful "Kings of Comedy Tour" (later the subject of a Spike Lee film). But it was 2002's sleeper hit Barbershopthat made Cedric a household name outside the black community. Cast as a past-his-prime haircutter hanging around Ice Cube's shop and sharing defiantly non-PC opinions on such cultural sacred cows as Rosa Parks and Jesse Jackson, Cedric delivered a performance that was criticized by pundits like Al Sharpton and Jackson himself but roundly enjoyed by audiences. The man was suddenly a mainstream star.
Catch his priceless stand-up act this weekend at 8 and 10:15 nightly at Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $40; call 928-4320 or visit www.cobbscomedyclub.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
The classic dances of India are rightfully famous and popular: We're all suckers for bejeweled performers in bright costumes striking sinuous poses. The subcontinent's different styles -- some with a strong line and dramatic facial expressions, others with a more graceful, ethereal feeling -- all feature those universally appreciated glam elements, but you don't often see such styles mixed in one piece. Sangamam (Confluence) brings together Bharatanatyam expert Vidhya Subramanian and Odissi specialist Asako Takami in a rare collaborative show that highlights the forms' differences as well as their common origins. The dance begins at 2 p.m. at ODC, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 863-9834 or visit www.odctheater.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
A Rock-y Marriage
Imagine if the Shangri-Las, as adults, had become bored of indie rock. That image would give you a fair impression of the Husbands, a gritty little band causing local scenesters to have hyperactive dance fits. The mostly girl outfit sports an honest, pissed-off sound that's all guitar and no crap. Singer Sarah Reed's voice is like every rocker's dream girl: really pretty and kinda mean. And speaking of guitar, Sadie Shaw has the fuzz-damaged goods, earning comparisons to the Gossip and Bo Diddley. Echobrain and Mr. Airplane Man share a bill with the Husbands, starting at 9 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $7; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Venue 9's Swan Song
When paired with the recent shutdown of the Mission District performance space Spanganga, the loss of SOMA's tiny-but-tough Venue 9 seems extra poignant. But Venue 9 is going out in style with "Bourgeois,"a rather schizophrenic evening of experimental music, dance, and theater. See choreographer Joe Landini's 4 Stories, which reflects on technology's takeover of modern culture, along with Femmisphere: Songs in the Key of Angst, a "drag cabaret" by the inimitable Trauma Flintstone (whom you might recognize from her scenery-chewing celebrity-impersonator work in Christmas With the Crawfords), every Wednesday in May starting at 8 p.m. at 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10; call 885-4006.
-- Joyce Slaton