A hugely successful 90-city comedy tour. Top hosting duties at the BET Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards. Shooting a pilot for a new TV show. Dropping a concert film on September 9. More movies coming soon. All in 2011. Comedian/actor Kevin Hart might be the definition of “hustle, hustle hard.”
He’s obviously tired, or possibly getting bored with doing back-to-back press interviews. AllHipHop.com encountered an unusually calm, soft-spoken person named Kevin Hart recently – his demeanor light years away from the loud, funny man who is currently kicking in the door on Hollywood. He yawned twice during the interview, but still managed to laugh at a few of the interviewer’s brave attempts at jokes. He earns a pass on the yawns. Hart works like crazy and is obviously a little man on a big mission:
AllHipHop.com: This has been like a crazy, breakthrough year for you – hosting multiple awards shows and the comedy tour and everything. What’s this ride been like for you so far?
Kevin Hart: It’s been hectic but it’s been great. You know. I wouldn’t ask for this experience to be different at all. You know what I mean? The rise and growth of my success level has been crazy, and the reason why is because I got to see it gradually grow in the past 14 years of me being involved in entertainment and this particular profession. So, I’m thankful and humbled to be where I am right now.
AllHipHop.com: I want to tell you that the more you blow up, the taller you’re looking to me! [laughter] I think you’d grown a few inches when I saw you on the VMAs.
Kevin Hart: That’s a good thing! [laughter] That’s a beautiful thing.
AllHipHop.com: No doubt! You hold it down for the little guys. [laughter] OK, so “Laugh At My Pain,” the concert tour – I read that you grossed $15 million in two days, breaking Eddie Murphy’s record. Are you sprinkling crack on the tickets? [laughter] Or, why do you think people are filling the seats so fast?
Kevin Hart: [laughter] It was that I grossed $15 million throughout the tour dates. If I grossed $15 million in two days, you wouldn’t see me. I’d be somewhere living on an island, you know what I mean? My money would be ridiculous. So, basically we broke Eddie Murphy’s record in ticket sales for the show that I did at the Nokia Theater, which was like $1.4 million in ticket sales in a day. That was crazy.
Kevin Hart: Any type of acknowledgement you get, when people can look and see what you’ve done in the past, that’s huge. For my fans to be as loyal as they are and support they way that they support, it’s unbelievable, you know? The feeling is indescribable, but I try not to think about it that much because I’m not content. I’m not content with my level of success. I want to get further and you know, the only way to get further is to set your goals pretty high. So, before I achieve all of those goals that I’ve set, I don’t want to look back on my accomplishments and kind of bask in whatever little glory there may be. You know, because there’s so much more to come.
AllHipHop.com: Let me ask you about the inspiration behind “Laugh At My Pain.” To me, that kind of sounds like that saying about the “tears of a clown,” or someone who has been teased or bothered, but has learned to laugh at himself despite other people. Is that what that means?
Kevin Hart: Well, here’s where it comes from. The title, “Laugh At My Pain,” basically comes from me saying hey, you know what? I’ve talked about so many things. I’ve talked about family, I’ve talked about my kids, I’ve talked about me and my involvement in so many things. I’ve yet to talk about a darker side. I’ve yet to dig into what could be considered as pain, so I wanted to talk about the things that kind of bothered me coming up – from my dad being involved with drugs, to my mom passing away, to me going through relationship turmoil – so many things that people wouldn’t necessarily laugh at. I wanted to talk about it, and give people my point of view and perspective on what’s been going on and how I feel about it, what my opinion is, and you know what? I found a unique way to do it so people can laugh at it.
AllHipHop.com: Well, I know the tabloids have been going kind of hard on you over the past two years with your personal life and everything. How do you keep your cool, and keep the smile on your face? Or, do you just consider that as part of your initiation, like you’ve come of age?
Kevin Hart: Yes, of course, I would be a fool not to see it and not to realize it. I just don’t like to dwell on it.
AllHipHop.com: OK, you don’t like to dwell on it, but do you have anything to say to your naysayers?
Kevin Hart: What? To people that say good or bad things?
AllHipHop.com: To people who have something negative to say about you who don’t know you basically, except for your art…
Kevin Hart: Oh, well, that’s the beauty of people. Everyone always has something to say, and it’s not always going to be good. Sometimes negative stuff is the stuff you should listen to the most. They could be saying something that other people are afraid to say. I don’t look at everything as hate. You gotta find a positive in everything. At the end of the day, I know that I’m good at my profession. I know that I’ve chosen the right career. But I’m not perfect. I don’t strive to be perfect. I don’t act as if I’m perfect. I’m a human. I make mistakes, and the difference from me and others is that I learn from those mistakes.
AllHipHop.com: Right. Well, I want to ask you a few questions from your background. I know you’re from the Philly area, and I grew up right outside there, so I’ve known about you maybe a little longer than the average person. I heard years ago that you attended CCP (Community College of Philadelphia) for like a week. Is that true, and if so, did you quit? Or were you forcibly removed from campus? [laughter]
Kevin Hart: Yup. [laughter] I went to Community basically after high school, because I want sure if I wanted to go to college. My mom was like, ‘You gotta do something. You’re not just gonna lay around and not do anything. You gotta do something.’ So, I decided to enroll at CCP, and I went there for like a week and a half. It just wasn’t for me. My heart wasn’t into it. I didn’t know why I was there.
It wasn’t like I was there with goals to possibly end up somewhere else. It’s like I was just there. And once I saw that, I was like, you know what? I need to find something that I have a passion for that I really want to put my all into. And what that thing was was comedy. Once I found it, I told my mom this was what I wanted to do as a profession that I felt like I would be good at. My mom was such a good person that she supported me and she said, ‘OK, let’s figure out how to do it. You have x amount of time to feed and support yourself from it.’ And I found it in that time.
AllHipHop.com: OK, and I know you got sort of your first shot in Jay-Z and Dame Dash’s movie Paper Soldiers. Jay has always been a private person and doesn’t extend himself a whole lot, so what do you think they saw back then that sort of predicted that star power you would have?
Kevin Hart: I owe a lot to Dame. Dame has done a lot for my career. I remember he came to a show and wound up really taking a liking to me and offered me a great opportunity. So, I took it, and after taking that opportunity, I realized like this is really good. This can open up doors. It got me my first movie at a young age, and it just so happened to be with two guys who were cool as hell – Jay-Z and Dame Dash! Dame was more hands-on with the project than Jay was, and Dame allowed me to bring myself to the movie and do what I thought was funny and let me get comfortable with the camera. That’s when I developed a love for acting as well.
AllHipHop.com: I know you poke fun at rappers a lot, and we’re a Hip-Hop site, so I know personally that some rappers are just plain easy targets. [laughter] If I looked up the word ‘rapper’ in Kevin Hart’s dictionary, what would the definition be?
Kevin Hart: Hmmm. [laughter] Highly intelligent who verbalizes his education through rhyming.
AllHipHop.com: OK, well, that was pretty mild compared to some of the fun that you poke at them. I’ll take that.
Kevin Hart: [laughter] That’s just me saving some relationships.
AllHipHop.com: I hear that – smart man! Well, success in comedy – just like rap – isn’t a given. Were there days after rejections when you didn’t want to get out of bed?
Kevin Hart: Nah. I mean at the end of the day, my job is to make people laugh, so regardless of the ups and downs, the stage is the one thing that people can’t take away from me. Granted, it’s on a much bigger scale now than it was then, but either way, it’s still something that I control. I control my destiny when it comes to stand-up. Even at the young age of 19 or 20, the shows were smaller, but it was something that I controlled. I got up there as much as I could.
AllHipHop.com: I wanted to also ask you…I was telling a few people that I was interviewing you this week, and consistently they mentioned the movie Soul Plane. And, you know, Soul Plane gets kicked around a lot as one of the worst movies ever. But for me, it’s like the train wreck I can’t stop watching! [laughter] So, What do you think about that? Is it one of the worst movies ever?
Kevin Hart: Well, of course I don’t think that because I did the movie. But what Soul Plane is is a cult classic, and people understand why. But for every person that hates it, there are a thousand people that loved it. The movie was bootlegged heavily and got popular in the streets. You take away Soul Plane, and I don’t have none of the opportunities that I have now. That was my first film that I had the opportunity to star in, and it put me on a larger scale to where people could look at me and say, ‘Oh, this guy is funny, and this guy can actually act.’
I was around people who’ve been in the business for years. They welcomed me with open arms, and I learned so much by it. So, for those people who have negative things to say about the movie, they’ve got to look at the bigger picture. You know, sometimes you need a steppingstone to really get to the level you want to be at. You can’t just do it without something to help you get up there, and Soul Plane was that thing for me. Shout out to Jesse Terrero for believing in me, and for giving me a chance at a young age.
AllHipHop.com: Alright, so you’re sort of diversifying your lanes. I see as you get bigger as a star, you can find more opportunities. AllHipHop had this Ford ad that would come on as soon as you clicked on the site, and it was you like screaming everyday! [laughter] I was like, damn, somebody’s gonna actually buy an American car off this dude. So, you’ve been doing some good stuff. And the awards show skits – pure genius. What lane do you go into next? I see you doing more movies, I see possibly a sketch comedy show. I see a lot of stuff that you can do. So, what’s coming up next for you?
Kevin Hart: Well, of course, Laugh At My Pain, the movie, comes out September 9. After that, I have a movie coming out called Five-Year Engagement. I have another movie coming out called Think Like A Man. My Ford campaign just got extended. Let’s see – what else? Right now, I’m about to start working on material for my next tour that starts in 2012, and I’m also filming my TV show, “Little In Common,” which could possibly be a mid-season pick up for Fox.
AllHipHop.com: OK, so you’re working pretty hard over the next year – got it locked well into 2012. That’s dope.
Kevin Hart: Yes, ma’am. Thank you.
AllHipHop.com: It’s good to see you get your due, because we’ve been thinking you were mad funny for years. So that’s great. You mentioned that the concert film “Laugh At My Pain” starts on September 9. So, my last question is, if I tell people about this movie, what should they bring along to the movie with them – a box of tissues or a box of adult diapers? [laughter]
Kevin Hart: A diaper, ‘cause I’ma make you sh*t on yourself. [laughter]
AllHipHop.com: And then the tissues to clean yourself up, maybe? [laughter]
Kevin Hart: There it is. [laughter] Good talking to you, sweetie.