Tag Archives: stand up

Kevin Hart and the art of being British.

26 Feb

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A few hours ago, US actor and verbalist Kevin Hart sat down in a BBC television studio in London and ‘did’ an interview, plugging his new film.

In order to ‘do’ one of these promotional interviews, you have to have at least one ‘anchor’ person who ‘does’ the role of asking you the right questions – the ones that allow you to sell your film.

Ideally, two anchors – one male and one female – should ‘do’ the questioning. These ‘anchors’ should always dress like your parents. In fact, TV Anchors are the viewer’s metaphorical parents in an idealistic, slightly off-kilter version of reality on Planet Earth. They are unfeasibly polite, informed, interested and well groomed. Nothing like reality.

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On this occasion, a live breakfast slot in a foreign country and a perfect storm created Television Gold. Sochi Olympic Games…? You have nothing on what happens next. Within 45 seconds, Hart had started demolishing everything in site. Intellectually speaking.

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He completely took the piss out of everyone in the studio – including his management and financial backers.

He destroyed the place.

He killed them all.

He did it ‘live’ and everybody loved him for it.

Here, thanks to Aunty Beeb, is the original footage, still warm. It seems to only have two edit points, so this is pretty much live and without a pause. Please watch it now! I’ll wait here while you do.

Taking The Piss

It is so hard for the British to explain to the wonderful plethora of people living elsewhere in the world what we mean when we talk about ‘taking the piss’. Taking the Mickey, extracting the Michael. Some countries ‘get it’ more easily than others. North Koreans in particular have difficulty with it. Only 35% of North Americans get it. The French? 10% at most. Latvians – 98.3%. Local Police Officer who just pulled you over in your car? .025%. Don’t go there.

Kevin Hart is taking the piss. If you do not see it then it doesn’t matter. If you laugh at his jokes and think that he is funny then that is great. No problem!

But he is.

Hart is described as an actor and ‘comedian’. He has busted his chops on the standup circuit in his own country and he has not been handed a backstage pass to fame. Along the way, he has learned like all standup comedians that his world is actually the world of the Gladiator.

Ideally, this is a point that the audience is unaware of but every standup comedian contemplates only one thing in their quiet moments: Death.

Comedians speak of ‘dying’ on stage. They dream of ‘killing’ their audience. Only one can win.

Kevin Hart makes no secret of his inspiration. Step forward Cosby, Murphy, Chapelle and Rock. That is all fine.

But really – there is something much faster, sharper, sooner, quicker and nastier about Kevin Hart. He is very much a man of his own design and this BBC footage perfectly describes that. He can ‘riff’ and feed off the slightest input but he can do it so fast that, when you re-run the videotape, you still marvel at his sure-footed and lightning fast responses.

This is rapping, finally crossing over into standup. The intonation, the stanzas, the speed of delivery.

In a world where it is now safe to agree that HipHop has become truly multi-cultural and truly a World genre, is Kevin Hart the first ‘verbalist’ to break rap into standup, like a chef cracking an egg into a bowl to make an omelette?

Okay, let’s leave the food analogy to one side. Today, he killed. He became a killer. Count the number of words per minute. Count the separate ideas delivered. Count the punchlines. Measure the total time on air and look at the sheer speed!

Kevin Hart in a black tuxedo, driving a ’65 Aston Martin. Tick box if Insurance Indemnity purchased. Box ticked. Since nobody else is currently standing up to the line, Mr Hart will be happy to serve.

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