Though his career has evolved, allowing him opportunities to act, write and produce, he said the foundation is always him, an audience and his comedy.
"It's like, for me, the true foundation of everything I do," he said in a recent telephone interview promoting his comedy show Sunday at Bell Auditorium. "If I'm going to go off and do a movie, I'll perform live first, because I want my motor running when I'm on the set. And when I'm finished, I go out and perform live again, because I'll have missed that audience."
Cedric said a career as a performer always seemed inevitable. Growing up, he wasn't interested in sports, opting instead for creative catharsis.
"I mean, it wasn't like Glee or anything, but I knew I wanted to perform," he said. "I wanted to be in the talent show instead of on the football team."
Despite the cliché of a young comic learning his craft and bombing his first time, Cedric said his first performance was a success, and that success kept him hooked through lean times.
"The first time out, I won $500," he said. "And I'm telling you, that's a feeling you just can't beat. You go out night after night, trying to get that feeling again."
He said when a network such as HBO foots the production bill, he'll often eschew the standard stool and microphone in favor of "those Beyonce and Lady Gaga elements." Still, he said growing as a performer has taught him there's beauty in staying silent and letting an audience laugh.
"Doing my sketch show on Fox and growing as an actor really affected the comedy," he said. "It made me learn to trust the quiet moment."
Going forward, Cedric hopes to be able to capitalize on his success and foster projects that often find funding difficult in bottom line-driven Hollywood.
"Being able to dictate and interject into that system ideas that might be hard to sell, well, that would be success for me," he said. "I'd love to be in a place where I didn't have someone trying to sell me on Cedric the Snowman."
Cedric the Snowman?
"No, don't say it out loud, that's how those things happen."