Kevin Hart’s sixth stand-up special, “Irresponsible,” arrived on Netflix April 2, and the comic/actor hit up Vulture’sGood One podcast to promote the project as well as chop it up about how he and his comedy have evolved.
Hart also touched on what he learned from audiences after stepping down from hosting the Oscars late last year after his old homophobic jokes resurfaced.
He also chatted with USA Today about his latest comedy special and revealed that he and wife Eniko Parrish want to have another child.
“We’re going to do one more and then we’re going to throw in the towel after that,” Hart says. “One more is enough – that’s a loud house. We have a loud one already between the kids and the dogs. So I think adding one more will really complete the Hart family circle and we’ll be done there. That’s it.”
Read an excerpts of from his conversation with Vulture below.
Something like your kids walking in on you having sex happens — how long before you start working on it as potential material? And what are the first steps?
We’re talking about it that night. I got two guys [Harry Ratchford and Joey Wells] that have been with me for the longest time. I’ve given them the title of writers, but they’re more of listeners and understanders. They understand me; they understand my humor. So, when I had these crazy thoughts, we talk about them. My way of writing is a spark plug.
I’m just, here’s a thought, Oh shit: “I’m on the phone, you all jump on the phone, this could be funny.” “What, Kev?” “Hey look, today, me and Nico was getting down, the kids got home early, we ain’t hear them, he popped in the room, I just laid down on her, in missionary position, but it was so scary because we didn’t know what he saw, what he didn’t.” But the playoff was so smooth, and I was like, “The joke is just about playing off what this actual act is.” And they was like, “The playoff?” We just started going back and forth on the playoff.
You just riff and talk about it and it balloons. How do you then refine it at the clubs, before you are ready for arenas?
The best way to shape and mold a joke is through conversation onstage. The benefit of me having Harry Ratchford and Joey Wells is, while I’m onstage, they’re taking notes as to what’s working. It’s basically like having a voice recorder without having a voice recorder. They make bullet points. And then before I go onstage what they give me is the bullet-point list.
I’ll do ten shows at a comedy club from Wednesday through Sunday, and the goal will be to come out of that with a strong 20 minutes. Yeah, I’m doing an hour onstage, but the goal is for me to say I got 20 minutes from that hour that I want to hold onto. Now when I come back to do another comedy club, I’m not talking about the extra stuff that was within that hour. I’m starting on that 20 minutes, and then after that 20 minutes, then I’m talking and I’m expanding and I’m freestyling and I’m seeing what else can basically be developed based on this amazing 20 minutes that I feel really good about.
How do you know if the audience’s response is really meaningful and it’s not just that they’re excited to see Kevin Hart?
The only reason why I feel really good about the 20 minutes is not just because of the audience responses, but because of me and my guys — our conversation about it and me knowing me and knowing, No, Kev, you got better than that. You can do better than that. Having a real team around me that’s not afraid to go, “That’s shit-ass.”
There are many different ways for a comedian to tell stories onstage, but what I find interesting is if and how comedians decide to tell the audience that they know they are doing something wrong. Why do you prefer to let the story stand on its own and have the audience sort it out?
If you’re not true to yourself, then who are you true to? What I’m learning, as I get older, is that you’re never going to be done figuring it out. I also learned that you’re never going to be able to please everybody. It’s literally the most impossible thing to do in the world. You get to a point where you say, “I’m going to do my best. And if those that aren’t happy aren’t, hopefully in the future they will become happier with me and my craft and my talent.” They can only realize that you’re ever a work in progress.
I know you’ve said you’re done talking about the Oscars.
Let’s just go. Talk. I have no problem with being candid and open. What I love about getting to the age that I’m at [is] you really are okay with talking about whatever it is. When I said, “Yo, I’m not talking about it anymore,” it’s because the reason for me being out and what I was supposed to be —
Promoting a movie.
I was supposed to be working on something else! But the conversation if I didn’t do that would have been shifted and geared towards this, and now the attention to what people have worked hard for is taken away. Keep in mind, that’s the whole reason for me stepping away from it in the beginning. So many things can get lost and get misconstrued, but the attempt for good gets swept up with the look of bad, because that’s the perception that is being portrayed. I didn’t want to take away from a night where people should be celebrated for their hard work. I’m in the movie business, so I know the work that goes into the movie business.
These are sort of amorphous terms, but would you rather people say Kevin Hart was the biggest comedian of the 21st century, or Kevin Hart was the best comedian of the 21st century?
You can’t get into what you want people to say. I’m about me. I’m about putting the work in, and when it’s all said and done, knowing that I did everything that I possibly could to leave it all on the table. In no way, shape, or form am I ever going to be Eddie Murphy, because there’s only one Eddie Murphy. In no way, shape, or form am I ever going to be Richard Pryor; there’s only one Richard Pryor. When you talk about the GOATs of comedy, I don’t know who else comes up, but those two names are always there. Dave Chappelle, he’s always going to be in that discussion. Chris Rock, always going to be in that discussion. Those are the names that I know no matter what gets brought up. Katt Williams, regardless of his personal life, his name gets brought up! Katt Williams had one of the funniest specials of all time. I’m not going to deny that. Those conversations will always be conversations. But they have no affect on me and what I’m doing.
The Kevin Hart conversation hopefully will be a conversation where it puts me in a land of my own. All I can say is that my résumé speaks for itself and numbers don’t lie. The level of consistency doesn’t lie. But, the opinion and feelings — I don’t have the time to care. I only have the time to do. When it’s all said and done, my portfolio will be one that I will forever be proud of, and when you look back at it, you gonna say that was a bad motherfucker, man. And by that time, hopefully I’m at an age where I can go, “Wow, man, they appreciated it.” Or maybe I’m not here and my kids will feel fucking proud about what their daddy was and what he did and what he left.