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One on One with Cedric Yarbrough

Behind the Scenes of "Reno 911! Miami"

By Fred Topel

One on One with Cedric Yarbrough

Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Niecy Nash, Mary Birdsong, Carlos Alazraqui, Cedric Yarbrough, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Kerri Kenney-Silver in "Reno 911!: Miami."

© 20th Century Fox

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And bringing cameos like Paul Rudd and The Rock into the mix?
"We had worked with Paul before on the show. He's done some guest starring on the show and that was great, just because he's a familiar face and we know he's such a weird and kooky, really funny guy that comes up with great ideas. So it was great working with him again and then having other celebrities come in.

The Rock was great, very funny, really solid improviser too. Which is great because you never know what type of actor you're going to get, if they're going to be good, especially a big time one, if they're going to be able to hang. This guy was top notch. He was great. It's a real feather in our cap to have somebody like The Rock come through or Danny DeVito come and blow it out of the water, or Paul Reubens come in. They're all really odd men who love comedy and so it was great. We're all pretty damn odd so it was great to have a fellow odd brethren come in and improvise with us."

What is S's first name?
"He has a first name and maybe it will be revealed in either the TV show or maybe a sequel to the movie, or maybe even a prequel to the movie. Maybe we'll pull a whole George Lucas and see Jones's inception and conception but for now, it's kind of a secret. But yes, Jones has a first name."

And it was conceived to not reveal it?
"It was an idea I had right from the beginning and we just never revealed it. We've never kind of figured a way that was actually going to work, but maybe it'll pop up one of these days."

How many more seasons or movies do you see this running?
"This thing could run forever if it wanted to. I mean, funny cops are funny cops. From what I have heard and read... I run into a bunch of police officers and they say, 'Your show is one of the most real depictions of cop life there is. CSI, those are all really entertaining but you don't know how many times that kind of stuff has happened to us.' So those type of storylines, and these type of characters too almost, not every department has a character just like Jones or just like Dangle or just like Johnson but pretty damn similar. These characters and these storylines I think could run forever.

It's funny because I think at the beginning of the first season, a lot of the critics and a lot of people thought, 'I don't know how long could this thing go.' But it really can go on pretty much forever if we deemed it, I think. And second of all, by the way, I think maybe how long Thom wants to be in the shorts is how long we'll do the run. Maybe he'll get some pants on and maybe we'll have to change someone and put on the shorts for a couple seasons."

How did you get together with the Reno people?
"I met those guys when I first moved - well, basically when I first moved out here. I moved out here in Los Angeles in July 4 of 2000. I met those guys in September or October of 2000 and they were auditioning for people with sketch comedy training that could be funny and come up with characters. It was a show called Ugly Americans for Fox and I brought in a couple characters.

I think what got me the role was my Aaron Neville impersonation. I put a Reese's peanut butter cup on the top of my head and wore a Baby Gap vest and wailed away and they fell in love. So booked that show and then the show didn't get picked up with Fox. They thought it was a little too similar to Mad TV. I think that was the note. I don't know exactly what happened with that, but either way it got scrapped. Then I think it was either Thom or Ben or Kerri, I can't remember who had the idea. I think it might have been Thom who came up with the idea of, 'Let's just do a parody of Cops. It's something they could have on after Cops, like Cops at 8 o'clock and Reno 911 at 8:30.'

They told us our assignments, come up with your own characters and come back and then we'll film it. And we still had Beth McCarthy Miller, famed director of SNL aboard, and had some money so we went away and filmed it. The pilot was very funny. The original pilot was hysterical and we thought it was really good, but Fox didn't like it so it went away for two years. Then Comedy Central picked it up."

Has this really been the big break for you?
"This has. Definitely. I'm able to pay bills and pay a bunch of family's bills. I didn't know I had so much family, but now I've got a whole bunch of family I didn't know about. But this has done well for me. It's opened up opportunities for other things that I've done, like 40-Year-Old Virgin and Meet the Fockers. Then I have another television show called The Boondocks that I do a bunch of voiceover work for and other films that I'm working on. So Reno and wearing beige for a living and having a fake gun has definitely helped me."

Do you have all cameo roles in these upcoming movies?
"Some of them are smaller. The one with Owen Wilson's a little bit bigger, a little bit more meatier. I play one of his homeless buddies. I grew a nice, healthy disgusting beard for that one. So I've got a couple projects underway and now we're heading toward our fifth season for Reno."

So there's Closing Escrow, Cook-Off, Drillbit Taylor and Entry Level?
"Yeah, Closing Escrow and Cook-Off, they're going to be submitted at the Aspen Comedy Festival. I have two films there, along with my fellow alum Wendi McLendon-Covey, so we have those projects coming up. I was just thinking of some of the projects we were doing and then the question about laughing, and one of the big laughers is Carlos Alazraqui. He cracks up a lot and it's so funny because he plays one of the most straight characters. He plays probably the character that's the most unlike himself, but somehow he cracks up the most."

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