by Gina Ponce // Photography by Miguel Starcevich // Styling by Ashley North // Grooming by John Clausell
While the original kings of comedy will always stay in tact, there’s definitely new royalty creating quite a buzz in the comedian realm. Kevin Hart has seen exceptional success in the last few years with his comedy specials and tours, but has now stepped it up a notch to dominate in those areas as well as Hollywood.
A lot of people think they’re funny. But it takes more than some encouraging words from your family and a few jokes around the water cooler to get a real, side-splitting laugh from millions of people. Comedian Kevin Hart has managed to not only accomplish that in comedy clubs and on TV, but after raking in an estimated eight million dollars from his limited theater release, Laugh At My Pain, there’s no denying he’s turned his humorous personality into a lucrative and reputable career. Starting off in less than 100 theaters nationwide, the stand-up concert film broke all kinds of records and surprised the star himself, in some respects. “The feeling is unreal,” Hart expresses. “I mean, to have the opportunity to have a stand-up come out theatrically is unreal. And to have my fans support it the way that they did is even more unreal…and the good news is I own it. It’s a Hartbeat production (his own production company he started last year) along with Codeblack Entertainment, so I’m not upset or surprised in the outcome of the production, but in the support and in the result of box office numbers, it definitely took me back.”
But even with massive amounts of support come a few haters and those who are just on a different wavelength in what they determine is funny. Unarguably, even the greatest comedians have undergone moments of backlash while on stage, when they’re open to judgment and at their most vulnerable. Recalling one such moment with an audience in New Jersey, Hart says:
“I got hit in the face with a buffalo wing in Atlantic City. This guy was so disgusted with my performance that he decided to throw a buffalo wing at me. I tried to get mad, and then when he stood up I saw he was a big dude so I went and played the race card, [saying], ‘This is why black people can never achieve anything, because of people like this.’ And then I said goodnight and just walked off the stage.”
Taking it all with a grain of salt, the good-natured funnyman has made it his mission to build a career out of making fun of himself. In 2009, Hart had his first comedy special air on Comedy Central, titled “I’m a Grown Little Man,” an obvious acknowledgment to his shorter stature. The following year brought “Seriously Funny,” which became the highest rated comedy special of 2010 and went on to go triple platinum in DVD sales. With his success at an all-time high, the Los Angeles resident reveals what he’s found will always get a laugh and admits that there’s no subject safe from being made the butt of a joke.
“I’m self-deprecating. Being self-deprecating is funny. I give the audience a chance to laugh at me before someone else does. In other words, there’s no way a person can poke fun at me because I’ve said it all myself. So by addressing my own personal defects and things that I write about myself, bringing it up will always get a laugh because it’s about me and people can visually see what it is I’m talking about… I’m not a political comedian. I’ve never [seen myself] going that direction. Other than that, a lot of my stuff is family-based and personal, so as long as it falls within that realm then I’ll touch on any topic. I don’t care.”