With a new hosting gig on BET’s Comic View: One Mic Stand, work on seven movies this year alone and his very own one hour Comedy Central special arriving next year, comedian Kevin Hart is a man you need to know now.
Comedian Kevin Hart is popping up everywhere these days. He’s appeared in over five films already this year, including Fool’s Gold with Kate Hudson and in Eddie Murphy’s Meet Dave. In addition to his big screen successes, Kevin scored a hosting gig on the revamped Comic View on BET, now called Comic View: One Mic Stand.
It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago this 29-year-old comedian was selling shoes in Philadelphia when he mustered up the courage to enter an amateur stand-up competition at the behest of some friends. Soon after catching comedy fever, he moved to New York City and quickly became a name to watch on the robust comedy scene there. He followed up his early scores with a strong showing at The Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in 2002, and the rest is history. Punchline Magazine recently spoke with Hart to get the scoop on his rise to the top.
You’ve appeared in over four movies in 2008 alone and have worked on another three. With two young children, how do you balance a busy career with being a father?
It’s hard; it’s definitely not an easy task. You have to have a family that understands how we support ourselves, and why we have the life we have. You try to include them in it. I try to include my wife as much as possible. When I’m gone I try to make sure I can bring my family out to enjoy the life I’m enjoying.
It’s about finding that medium. Everything has a happy medium and it’s just about finding it. I think once you do find that balance it becomes easy because your family not only loves and supports you, but they understand your work ethic— and that’s something that is very important to me. I’m a hard worker. I don’t half ass things. I want to be the best at everything. You can’t be the best if you don’t work for it.
You started stand-up at 18, a little over 10 years ago. How did you go from amateur nights to feature films?
I’ve had some good people in my corner. I’ve had some good comedian mentors: Colin Quinn, Patrice O’Neal, Jim Norton. Those are some funny guys who I came up with, and they kind of took me under their wing. When you’re constantly around successful people, it’s very hard not to pick up things and learn from them.
I remember when I was 22 years old at the Comedy Cellar in New York at 2 A.M. and Ray Romano walked in just to go up on stage. Even though he’s successful, he’s still coming by this late at night to do these spots. I mean that’s unbelievable. I mean so much history has come through the Comedy Cellar; so for me to be a part of it in any way, shape, or form was a blessing.
How’d you land the gig as the new host of Comic View: One Mic Stand?
I’ve had a relationship with BET for a while. I’ve been a part of their family and done things with them in the past. They wanted to change the look of their comedy show. BET’s Comic View was a little older and they wanted to liven it up and bring some youth to it. They offered it to me and I thought it was a great opportunity to host something new, to be the signature for something new.
They brought in a band and a younger, more vibrant host; and they’re bringing in younger, more vibrant comedians who are up and coming. And you’ve got some older veterans who have come by to do the show as well. It’s definitely good to be a part of it and to be on the front page of something new.
You’ve had a lot of success in a relatively short period of time. What has been the high point of your comedy career so far?
Probably hosting One Mic Stand. Also, I have an hour-long comedy special that’s airing on Comedy Central some time in 2009. Anything you do where you can put your face on it and people associate your name with comedy is an accomplishment.
You’re doing a lot of films now; do you prefer acting or stand-up?
I love acting. I can’t even explain it; it’s such a rush because I get to be myself on camera, or I get to be somebody I’ve dreamt of being in character. In Fool’s Gold I got to be the bad guy. But stand-up comedy, that’s you being you at all times. That’s you creating your own audience. You grow a cult; you grow a following.
Chris Rock has a following— people that love him. It has nothing to do with his movies. People love to see Chris Rock perform; people love to see Martin perform, or Eddie Murphy, or Richard Pryor. That’s what I’m trying to accomplish with my stand-up; that’s my goal. I want people to fall in love with my comedy the same way they fell in love with these other guys’ comedy.
You’re still a pretty young guy; do you feel your recent success has changed you?
I don’t feel like I’ve changed; I feel like I’ve matured. I feel like I’m a grown man. That’s the name of my special, I’m a Grown Little Man. I have a family, I have a home, and I have people that I’m responsible for. My priorities are different. I put other people before myself. But as far as materialistic things or me thinking I’m better or putting people down, that’s never going to happen because this could all go away, and at the end of the day you still want the respect of your peers.
Is there anything you still want to accomplish?
In 2009 I’m starting my company K Hart Productions, which means I’ll be doing projects through my own production company. My goal is to have what Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller have, to have my own film company where companies go through me to make movies.
Anything else you want our readers to know?
Yeah, I have a new nickname: “Chocolate Drop.” My daughter saw a little piece of chocolate and said, “Daddy, that looks like you.”