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Cedric Newman: Doing comedy the West Indian way

Published:Sunday | April 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

While comedian Cedric Newman has 10 years' experience under his belt, making a Jamaican laugh, he said, is hard to do.

The Jamaica-born comedian recently tested his comedy skills in Jamaica for the first time at Comedy Dons, held at Backyaad, Constant Spring Road. Raised in Jamaica until four years old, Newman is quite aware of what Jamaicans find funny, as he proved his mettle, getting laughs for his R. Kelly sketch, as well as others, at Backyaad. He told The Sunday Gleaner, "I was nervous about performing here. I've performed for Jamaican crowds in Canada but never for Jamaicans in Jamaica."

Having spent most of his life in Montreal, Canada, the comedian is currently living and working in Toronto with a regular stint at one of Canada's most popular comedy clubs - Yuk Yuks.

For Newman, his comedy journey was an unexpected one, having started out acting in Montreal. While at acting classes, one of his fellow students told him he would make an excellent stand-up comic due to his natural charisma and sense of humour.

"At first I didn't take him seriously but the idea of comedy stuck in my head and I started going to a number of comedy shows," he explained.

One of the shows that inspired the budding comic was The Original Kings of Comedy which featured Cedric The Entertainer, DL Hughley, Bernie Mac and Steve Harvey.

"I was blown away. It's amazing how they were able to keep their audience captivated," Newman pointed out. "It took me three years after that to really start doing comedy."

Inspiration

While he doesn't get to visit Jamaica often, Newman said the country, its people and the wider Caribbean is usually where he gets his inspiration.

"I try to bring the West Indies into my act as much as possible. No matter where you go you'll always find a Jamaican in the crowd. I draw my material from everyday life, anything and everything and try to bring it to life on the stage," he said.

It was a chance meeting with local promoter Renee Excel that put Newman on a plane back to his home country. Impressed by his performance, Excel will be bringing the comedian back on July 4 for another comedy show.

Newman hopes to take his craft beyond Canada and into the United States. He said there are few American comedians who possess that West Indian flavour and he wants to bring West Indian comedy to the world.