Celebrity Spotlight: Kevin Hart
Amongst comedians, standup comedy is a rite of passage before entering the film and television entertainment industry. From Richard Pryor to Ricky Gervais, standup comedy weeds out the truly talented funny men from the short-lived talents.
In America, the roots of standup comedy can be traced all the way back to the vaudeville era of the 1880s. Frank Fray a famous vaudeville performer and comedian was the first ‘master of ceremonies’ for the New York Palace Theater. Fray is credited as the forefather of the 20th century standup comedy style. Since then, nightclubs and lounges have become the breeding ground for aspiring comedians.
Standup comedy is literally a one man show. It is intimate and person because all there is between a comic and the audience is opportunity and a microphone. What that comic does with that opportunity separates a legendary comedian from a weaker one. Keenan Ivory Wayans, a notable comedian, writer, and director once said, “A lot comes from having the experience of doing standup comedy. It allows you to figure out the psychology of an audience; what things are funny and not.”
In the 21st century, standup comedy seemed to come to a slow period, as funny men appeared in film and television, but less on the one man stage. Right and left, comedians such as Dave Chappelle and Bernie Mac were getting their own television series, while the standup circuit developed a void. Then, in 2009, one pint-sized comedian made a huge impact on the comedic circuit. Kevin Hart, a former shoes salesman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, released a standup DVD entitled, ‘I’m a Grown Little Man’. This was Hart’s first recorded standup performance, but previously he had small roles in movies such as ‘Death at a Funeral’, ‘Scary Movie 4’ and ‘Extreme Movie’. Hart had to return to his standup roots to truly skyrocket to the forefront of comedy. Hart’s comedic delivery is unorthodox, but inviting to the audience. “His delivery is part Eddie Murphy confidence and part Bernie Mac aggression, but what he adds is a sense of self-deprecation that makes him relatable and lets the listener know that he never takes himself too seriously.” Hart injects himself and his experiences into each standup act. He makes his comedy personal because life experiences can be shared with anyone. Hart has brought a new vigor into the comedy circuit. His next standup comedy DVD, ‘Seriously Funny’ made big numbers, so much so, that his most recent release ‘Laugh at My Pain’ was released in theaters and broke the box office.
Today, Hart is on tour for his fourth standup tour, ‘Let Me Explain’ and promoting an upcoming film based on a book by fellow comedian Steve Harvey. The book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” was adapted into a film ‘Think Like a Man’. The star-studded cast includes not only Hart, but Michael Ealy, Megan Good, Taraji P. Henson, and Regina Hall. The past four years have been prosperous for Hart, and his contributions to comedy have given us all the joy of laughter.