LIKE ANY DUTIFUL parent, I sometimes feel obligated to butt in and find out why the teens in my house are laughing convulsively at some online video.
The culprit, I've learned, is often Kevin Hart.
A favorite bit: Hart tells of being sent home from school for cussing, then gets instructions from his mother to cuss the teacher still further, which he takes to blue-streak extremes.
According to YouTube, this piece of the actor/comedian's stand-up act has been viewed a quarter of a million times.
In our house alone, I'd say, except that our house is apparently typical when it comes to Hart - his YouTube audience numbers 380,000, and he has 7.6 million Twitter followers.
He's become shrewd at managing/developing his career online - a point made repeatedly in his new concert film "Let Me Explain."
The movie extols his Internet savvy, and shows how this skill has yielded packed concert houses and made it so that Hart is recognized in obscure corners of Europe.
For a while, "Let Me Explain" is "let me explain how well I'm doing" - less like a concert film than Hart's LinkedIn profile. The movie covers his itinerary, his attendance, his brand. A good 30 minutes goes by - Hart goofing around on tour, Hart hosting a party - before "Let Me Explain" gets to Hart's (sold-out) appearance at Madison Square Garden, for Hart the culmination of a dream and years of tireless work.
At that point, we do get a solid 40 minutes of Hart's new routine, one that shows his transition from underdog entertainer to front-rank, stand-up star.
His jokes show it, too - his "Laugh at My Pain" had a guy-from-the-neighborhood familiarity. "Let Me Explain" is the work of a star grappling with celebrity - material about bodyguards, nightclubs, VIP rooms, being on the wrong side of TMZ, etc.
His best stuff is still personal - Hart's divorce (apparently) yields a nice bit about the way men and women argue, as painful and funny and well-crafted as anything in stand-up today.
All delivered with Hart's trademark, jack-in the-box energy, augmented now with a more pronounced swagger. North Philadelphia's little-engine-that-could is now in the "I Know I Can" phase of his career.
He's sharing billing with the likes of Ice Cube ("Ride Along") Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro ("Grudge Match"), and has reportedly signed to star alongside Will Ferrell in an upcoming feature.
He's on screen now in the word-of-mouth hit "This is the End."
This, for Hart, is apparently only the beginning.