If you want to make a living telling jokes about family and friends, you better have some funny family and friends.
Fortunately for Kevin Hart, his are a laugh riot.
A sold-out audience at the Century II Concert Hall gave Hart a standing ovation before he told a single joke, and they gave him a longer and much louder ovation when he finished.
In between was an hour of constant laughter as the comedian shared observations about his fear of animals, fear of scary movies, crazy babies, Internet medical sites and Starbucks.
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The Starbucks sketch was a particular highlight of the show, exploiting a shared experience that has happened to every newbie who ever tried to figure out the coffeehouse’s menu under pressure from the barista and the other people in line.
He also drew guffaws with a turn on fleeing his house in the middle of the night when he heard noises after watching “The Conjuring.”
Much of his humor centered around his home and the perceived threats from the wildlife around it, especially a raccoon with threatening, possibly homicidal tendencies.
Interpersonal relationships weren’t off-limits either. One memorable story rotated around an impromptu all-night game of ping-pong with a group of competitive friends, and how his fiancee had marked the evening by holding a long and one-sided conversation with him over text messages he was too drunk to read.
There was a healthy serving of Hart’s always funny physical comedy, including a hilarious take on the bowling and sexual exploits of a man who lost his kneecaps in an orangutan attack – and the woman who wouldn’t believe him. It was one of the cards Hart played to tie together a fairly disparate body of material.
Many F-bombs and a few N-bombs were dropped in the course of the evening. But if that bothers you, what were you doing at a Kevin Hart show?
For the fans at Century II, it worked.
Hart performs like a man trying to outski an avalanche.
The first words on his Twitter feed are “My name is Kevin Hart and I WORK HARD.”
Wichita is a case in point. When his two Friday shows sold out, he added a Saturday show. When that sold out, he added a fourth show that’s nearly sold out and will keep him in Wichita past midnight on Saturday.
He has four movies in the pipeline, including the currently released “Top Five.”
It hasn’t always been like that for Hart, who started out as a shoe salesman working comedy clubs in his off hours.
Before his breakout “Laugh at my Pain” tour in 2011, he made a name for himself largely by being the bright spot in low-budget movies and short-lived TV series.
Anybody want a DVD of “Soul Plane” or a box set of “Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire” under the Christmas tree?
Didn’t think so.
Probably more than any other area of performing arts, comedy craves the new – new material, new faces. Hart seems to understand that better than most, hence his epic work ethic.
Somewhere out there, the next great comedic talent is working his or her way up the way Hart did.
But those who saw him in Wichita on Friday night – and those who see him Saturday – will be able to say, “I saw Kevin Hart at the top of his game.”
Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.