Andrew Harmon



Philadelphia's Rising Star:
Who's Laughing Now

by Manuel McDonnell Smith

“Don’t make me laugh, this is serious shit!” It’s been a seriously great year for Philly bred Comedian, and now Actor/Producer Kevin Hart. On the heels of his 90-city “Laugh at my pain” comedy tour, one of the most successful comedy circuits in history, with over $15,000,000 in tickets sold (and too many laughs to account for), Kevin dived head first into developing the routine from this act into a feature film.

Despite the film debuting in only 99 theaters nationally, it brought in $2 million dollars at the box office, impressive by all Hollywood standards for a comedy special, and even more impressive when you consider the fact that the film was produced for under $800,000 by Hart and a close team of producers from his newly formed company “Hartbeat Productions”. As the film continues to rack up dollars in wider release for Hart, he talked with Urban Suburban Magazine about fans, fame, and filmmaking.

Q:  “Laugh at my pain” does not exactly sound like a comedy film. What’s it about?
KH: It’s about the darker side of life, my relationship with my father who was a drug addict, the relationship with my brother, divorce from my wife. I can’t wait to see the reactions (of the audiences to the film).

Q: Speaking of divorce your divorce, have been a lot of headlines on that. How’s that going?
KH:  Marriage is hard from an entertainment standpoint. Basically, she was not happy with me being dedicated to my career the way I am. So we had to figure out how to move on, and the best way to make each other happy.

Q: New lady in the picture now?
KH: No, I’m single.

Q: Your dad, how are things between you and him now?
KH:  He was on drugs for a long time, and in and out of jail. He didn’t get clean until I was 22. My brother and I, we helped him to get cleaned up, into rehab. We’re close now.

Q: Your brother, does he have the same talent destined for stardom?
KH: He’s a professional pool player. Really. Got it from my dad.

Q: From the stage to filmmaking, how have you approached the process?
KH: I’ve been involved around the board. It’s been great to build a company and start it from scratch from just a vision of what I wanted it to be like. I know with this that I need to see everything, I need to be involved.

Q: Overall, is there a goal that you have with the film?
KH: I’m trying to make history with a comedic theatrical release. There’s only been a slim amount of artists able to do this with this genre.

Q: You’re a long way from 15th and Erie where you grew up. What were your dreams back then?
KH: From where I grew up, I wasn’t supposed to be a comedian, I was supposed to be a killer.

Q: By now, you’ve heard of the teen “Flash Mob” incidents that have plagued your hometown this past summer. As a kid from the hood, what’s your take?
KH: The level of stupidness of this is ridiculous……as a kid, you need to learn to apply yourself, and not hang with kids who only bring each other down.

Q: Applying yourself, how did you manage to do that growing up in Hunting Park?
KH: My mother kept me engaged. I was involved at the Boys & Girls Club across from Gratz High School, and spent two days a week after school (George Washington High School) with the swim team. Between that, and the hour SEPTA commute to school from home, I was always busy.

Q: So how did you escape that fate?
KH: My Mom, we were close. Growing up, I was a mama’s boy, she was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. But I had no interest in school, education. I wanted to play basketball, make it to the NBA. I played on George Washington High’s Basketball Team.

Q: Win any championships?
KH: Not even close

Q: When you come home, where are the places you love to check out?
KH: I always go to Max’s, Broad & Erie for a cheesesteak. It’s part of Philly’s heritage. Fried Onions, Salt, Pepper, Ketchup, and Mayo.

Q: They say Philly fans are the toughest? True?
KH: I grew up performing in the Laugh House on South Street, the New Market Cabaret, and every bar and restaurant. The thing about the Philly audience is that you have to make them laugh. You’re dealing with angry people. If you can make it in Philly, then you can make it anywhere.

Q: So you’ve been in Hollywood for a minute now, have you made any other celebrity comedian connections?
KH: Keith Robinson, Jerry Wells, Chris Rock, Steve Harvey, I know them all. But Eddie Murphy and I are really cool. He is a mentor to me.

Q: Some people feel funny about the amount of obscenity in many comedian’s routines. What’s your take?
KH: If it’s who you are in life, then be who you are on stage. Don’t be a character. I’m not vulgar, but I do cuss.

Q: What future productions can you foresee Hartbeat Producing?
KH: It’s all about branding with the right people. Currently we’re working on projects in the comedy realm, but it’s important us to own whatever we’re going to produce.

Q: Movies, the stage, performing. You’ve been doing it all. What’s next?
KH: I’m jumping on all platforms. We’ve just released a mobile app related to my twitter feed. Basically the more you follow me, the higher you go. It’s only 99 cents, and it already broke the top 100 in iTunes downloads.

Q: Any advice for aspiring filmmakers, comedians?
KH: Be ready to apply yourself 5 days a week. Stay healthy, take care of your body, it’s your temple. Keep your pride, stay focused, and always put your best foot forward.

Q: How about something from Eddie Murphy, any nuggets of wisdom to share?
KH: Get a leather blazer. Or at least a gray leather jacket. It’s been a signature of all successful comedians.



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