Kevin Hart is officially a Hollywood headlining superstar. The bantam comedian is coming off his third consecutive box office triumph as his latest film, the updated remake of the ‘80s romantic comedy About Last Night, hauled in close to $30 million this past weekend, an impressive number for a rated-R film. Hart’s immense success comes after the $100 plus million gross of the Ice Cube comedy team-up Ride Along, and the $100 million 2012 ensemble flick Think Like A Man.
From the big screen to the small screen (his mock reality show Real Husbands Of Hollywood remains one of BET’s most popular draws) to social media (over 10 million followers and counting), Hart is on fire. In honor of Black History Month, VIBE asked the in-demand funnyman to list his greatest African-American comedic influences. From Richard Pryor to Wanda Sykes, Hart opens up about his favorite comedians, how they have paved the way for his skyrocketing career and how he is dealing with his newfound fame. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)
"When you are asked to pick my favorite comedian that’s kind of unfair. When I look at who is responsible for my career path and my drive foremost it's Richard Pyror and Eddie Murphy. These are two men who are pioneers in stand-up comedy. Pryor and Murphy have done so much for the game of stand-up comedy. Just look at their body of work and what they have achieved from movies to concerts. When you look at what they have achieved it makes you go, 'Wow, I want that!'
"Look at Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Martin Lawrence and the Kings of Comedy (the late Bernie Mack, D. L. Hughley, Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer)… these are all people who have done so many great things in comedy. All I do is say to myself, 'I want that'…I’m going to work towards that. Those guys gave me drive. Bill Cosby is another one. This list can go on and on. And Wanda Sykes? She’s basically one of the best comedians to do it whether it’s male or female. You are looking at one of the best writers doing standup comedy today. Not only is she a friend, I’m a fan. Sykes is somebody that has given some great advice to me. She has been a great person in my life.
"I’m just following in their path. At the end of the day, everybody isn’t going to know you or love you the same. But when the fans come around, they will come around because now they are not only aware of your work, but are interested in your talent. That’s why people like [Pryor and Murphy] are so great. They understood that regardless of when fans come around to you, your job is to make sure they stay. I want my fan base to stay and the only way I can do that is by continuing to deliver great content. I think thus far I’m doing that. I’m that motivated and dedicated to my craft because of the people that have come before me."