When asked if co-starring with Will Ferrell in the new buddy comedy Get Hard will bring him crossover success, Kevin Hart says he’s been making white people laugh for years
Author Jazmine Hughes Photography Smallz & Raskind/Contour by Getty Images
In a 2013 episode of the reality-show spoof “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” Kevin Hart and Chris Rock engaged in a debate over who was the bigger star. Though Hart is a creator and an executive producer of the BET show, the Philly-born comic let Rock have the last word: “Kev, what you’ve gotta understand is: I’m actually famous. You’re more … black famous!”
The line got a big laugh, partly because there was a ring of truth to it. Though Hart, 35, has sold out Madison Square Garden (twice) and hosted the MTV Video Music Awards, and appeared in an impressive five feature films last year, the perception remains that he has not yet broken through to a white audience. That could change this month, as Hart stars opposite Will Ferrell in the buddy comedy Get Hard, in which he coaches Ferrell’s character—a white-collar criminal who’s about to start serving hard time—on how to survive in prison.
“I can’t wait for it to come out,” Hart says. “Will Ferrell’s a different level of funny—you really don’t come across this type of talent, at all. So for me to say that I worked with him, it’s definitely a big bonus.”
Appearing opposite Ferrell would be a boon to anyone’s career, but especially so, one would think, for an actor like Hart, whose box office hits are part of the new sea of black movies one might call FUBU (for us, by us) if one were being brief, but FUBUMSBU (for us, by us, mostly seen by us) if one were being both brief and honest. But when asked if starring in Get Hard held any significance for a black comic who might be pigeonholed as such, Hart scoffs and maintains that the success he’s had to date is due to making people of all stripes laugh.
“You can’t appeal to one race with being funny—everybody loves to laugh,” he says. “When you spread yourself around, and you actually go and perform all across the world, as I have, and you make it anywhere from black, white, Chinese, Mexican, regardless of the language barrier, you’re making people laugh. And those who have done that have been successful. When you speak to the Chris Rocks and Eddie Murphys of the world, the George Carlins, they appealed to people. That’s why they had success. So I think you’re cheating yourself by only appealing to one particular group of people. I don’t think funny has a color.” (March 27)