As he celebrates the release of his theatrical release of his stand-up performance in Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain, the hottest comedian in the biz discusses the triumph of his latest accomplishment, juggling award show appearances and staying afloat in the game.
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TSS: So we were supposed to do this interview earlier but you got caught up in L.A. traffic.
Kevin Hart: It was disgusting. They had me all over the damn place in slow motion.
TSS: So what happens if you’re spotted by paparazzi in a Benz or something? How does that work with your Ford campaign? Do you get an angry e-mail or text message saying you need to stay “Built Tough?” [Laughs]
Kevin Hart: [Laughs!!!] Nah, man. Me and Ford have a great relationship. They take great care of me and I had a blast doing their online marketing videos.
TSS: No doubt. O.K., we have Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain in theaters nationwide. Seeing that you’re a comedian, is it a greater accomplishment to have your stand-up in theaters opposed to a scripted movie?
Kevin Hart: Oh it’s a huge accomplishment! It’s only the chosen who have done it as far as African-Americans with theatrical releases. You have Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence and The Original Kings of Comedy. For me to join that elite group is a big honor.
TSS: You’ve done like 90+ shows. Did you go back and pick out the jokes that went over the best?
Kevin Hart: No! I filmed the last show we did. L.A. was the last leg of the tour and we were in front of 15,000 people at the Nokia Theatre. And because it was so huge, we figured it would be a great opportunity to present something like this on a grander scale. With the vibe from the people in the audience…it was just set up perfectly for that moment.
TSS: So the theatrical release wasn’t even planned before hand?
Kevin Hart: Exactly. Fans will be able to experience the show in raw form.
TSS: The kicker is it’s an actual movie too. It shows you going back to home to Philly, correct?
Kevin Hart: Yeah, I just wanted to give my fans an opportunity to see who I am as an individual and where I actually come from. You know, the basics. What I’m about. Where my house is. The people close to me when I was coming up.
TSS: With the movie and its title, you have a knack for turning the dark moments of your life into jokes. Was this a defensive mechanism growing up or did you learn how to be funny along the way?
Kevin Hart: Oh, definitely a defense mechanism. I’m small! If you weren’t good with hands, you had to be good with jokes and quick comebacks. Then…everybody loves you! Everybody was always on your side then. So it was kind of hard to pick with the little guy everybody loves.
TSS: It seems like the old saying “mo money, mo problems” has affected your life as well. You didn’t shy away from your public breakup with your wife but it seems like you’ve become an even bigger attraction. Would you say that’s accurate?
Kevin Hart: [Laughs] Of course…of course. That may very well be the realest rap line ever written.
TSS: Speaking of rap, which you’re an avid fan of, what song did you start your shows with?
Kevin Hart: Rick Ross’ “9 Piece.” “9 Piece…John Doe! I’m still ballin’ like I’m Bo Diddley!”
TSS: [Laughs] Yeah, I saw his man Meek Mill clowning on Twitter saying you looked like the dude from Do or Die!
Kevin Hart: [Laughs!!!] Yeah…that’s my man, we both from Philly. He’s doing big things with the Dreamchasers tape and he’s about to come out in a major way. But tell Meek Mill he’s ugly as shit!
TSS: [Laughs!!!] But yeah, you’re major too. You had the spotlight at the VMA’s for a little bit. I saw “Black Twitter” had mixed reviews. How do you think you did?
Kevin Hart: It was great because there was no pressure. I wasn’t the host. They just wanted me to come out and set the tone for the show. It’s not me doing stand-up; I came out and said a couple funny things that received some laughs and I got out the way. After that, I looked at the sketches and they were hilarious. My Twitter page went up almost a 150K that day.
TSS: When you put rappers and such on the spot, does it ever rub anyone the wrong way or is it always in good nature?
Kevin Hart: Aw, nah! They’re always with people I have relationships with. Whether it’s Lil Wayne, the cast from Jersey Shore or people at the BET Awards, it’s always in fun. I’m never spiteful or vindictive. The jokes always come from a good place.
TSS: When you make the transition from a BET to a MTV, do you find yourself prepping to be a different kind of Kevin Hart or can you be whoever you wanna be?
Kevin Hart: Well, I can be whoever I wanna and I have crossover appeal because I don’t change. I don’t try to “extra urban myself” or “extra mainstream myself.” The individual I am is who I am at all times and I think my fans are appreciative of that.