Kevin Hart is noticeably short for a guy. He has a standup comedy show called I’m a Grown Little Man for Pete’s sake. At that height it’s either be the jokester or become the joke. Well, Kev’s laughing all right — all the way to the bank. Hart has all but been omitted from lists of comedians on the verge of a huge breakthrough. That may all change with his stellar performance in last weekend’s box office hit, Think Like a Man, which offers him just the type of exposure he needs to reach a larger audience. As Cedric, a bitter divorcee who can’t stop talking about his wife or arguing with her, Hart is knee-slapping funny. And he’s following up that breakthrough role with a small but punch-line-heavy part in this weekend’s big release The Five-Year Engagement.
Hart’s moment hasn’t popped up out of the blue. He’s been on the scene for a while now. You might remember him from 2004’s Soul Plane, which wasn’t exactly Oscar worthy, but Hart’s execution of comedy made up for a lot of what the film lacked. And since then, he’s lent his talents to blockbuster hits like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Barbershop and Death at a Funeral. He also had an amusing interlude as a warlock in the short-lived fantasy parody Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire on Comedy Central.
Then there’s his stand-up comedy. Like Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Jim Carey, Martin Lawrence and others before him, Hart used personal stories to translate into humor. Where Dave Chappelle and Katt Williams once held down the fort of stand-up comedy, Hart is stepping in to fill that void for a new generation, garnering comparisons to Murphy. From 2009 to 2011 Hart has done three specials on Comedy Central including I’m a Grown Little Man (2009), Seriously Funny (2010) and Laugh at My Pain (2011) — the latter had my whole crew saying, “You gon’ learn today. Alright alright alriggght,” for months. In his stand-up, the Philly native is able to push boundaries that he can’t in film. Nothing is off limits as he mines his children, his height and other celebrities for laughs.
Hart has been consistently funny for years and people are starting to catch on. There’s no doubt he can make people laugh faster than Kim Kardashian finds new love. Interestingly, the world may be seeing more of his serious side soon. He’s set to play real-life weightlifter Precious McKenzie, who fled Apartheid in South Africa to compete for Great Britain in the Olympics, in the Oscar-bait-y movie The Impossible Dream. Will that be the big push it takes to help him live up to those Eddie Murphy comparisons? Let’s wait and see!
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