Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
Rhythm. Energy. Surprise.
Those three elements are comedy staples. The right patter and bounce can turn a simple gag into a running joke or grow a giggle into a belly laugh. A comedian's high energy and roam-the-stage electricity can keep an audience awake and focused. The unexpected left turn—that "Oh no he didn't!" bombshell—is designed to keep the guffaws rolling.
And there's no question that Kevin Hart instinctively knows how those comedy bits should work.
The 33-year-old comic's latest live performance documentary kind of suggests that his fame and recent sold-out global tours are something of an accident, thanks in large part to virally spreading YouTube videos. But the truth is, it's because he knows the staples of comedy. And that's quite evident in this pic's on-the-street outtakes that showcase Hart's natural wit and charm.
If you look at the comedian's 13-year career—that started in East Coast comedy houses and proceeded to no fewer than a dozen TV shows, with roles in over twice that many films—it's plain that Hart has leveraged his skills through a whole lot of no-quit grit, practice and self-promotion.
Last November, he hit the professional jackpot when he played two shows at the exclusive Madison Square Garden. And those became the basis for this new "concert" flick. In it he capers and rambles like an over-cranked windup. He twists and turns, catcalls and grimaces, juggles his yammering yarns, and lands his punch lines with a practiced pie-to-the-puss precision.
It's all exactly what this pro wants it to be—rhythm, energy and surprise.
But here's my punch line: It ain't that funny!
You see, comedy is also about content.
The movie starts out with a weak staged skit showcasing a series of guests at a party who establish the comedian as a misunderstood celebrity (or, in their vernacular, a "local-a‑‑ b‑‑ch"). And so it's up to Hart to quickly set up a gig at Madison Square Garden to explain his side of things.
There he expounds on why he's divorced and happy about it. Why he cheats, drinks and lies and is good with all that, too. How women are just crazy, sneaky, backstabbing, uh, individuals who sniff for evidence of cheating everywhere (and will likely find it 'cause, well, he actually has been lying, drinking and cheating). Add in odd rabbit hole jaunts into the topics of a bad Ecstasy trip, a Spider Man-obsessed son and a horseback riding disaster and you've got yourself a big-stage stand-up routine.
Or maybe I should say, more accurately, that you've got yourself an hour's worth of extremely profane, completely disjointed, stream-of-consciousness-sounding ramblings that string together literally hundreds of f- and s-words along with every other foul utterance and blasphemy you shouldn't be imagining.
There once was a more innocent time when that kind of crass, lowball wordplay on a comic stage might have eked out a surprised giggle from an unsuspecting crowd. Especially when supported by the right timing and verve. But there's not even any novelty in such shabby schlock any longer.
Let me explain: The whole foul thing just falls flat.