All fans have their own favorite Kevin Hart stand-up bit. Mine goes all the way back to his Seriously Funny 2010 Comedy Central special.
It starts with the comedian’s talking about hearing his daughter, then 5-year-old Heaven, cuss for the first time while watching SpongeBob SquarePants. The moment sends Hart back to his own childhood and sets up a five-minute routine notable for its obvious storytelling skill, acting chops, and insight into Hart himself.
A teacher sends Kevin home with a note pinned to his chest implying that poor parenting has made him a disruptive presence in class. In the bit, Hart makes subtle physical changes to transform into his grade-school self, then adopts the persona of his now-angry mother, Nancy Hart, who instructs Kevin to return to school with an R-rated response.
(The routine is not for all tastes, though that hasn’t stopped it from being viewed on YouTube million of times. Watch at your own risk.)
It’s a good premise with the promise of a big finish, and Hart smartly modulates the story to build suspense — reaffirming his mother’s instructions, making sure to get a good night’s sleep, advising his classmates to get a good seat.
Then he both delivers on expectations and upends them. The teacher asks for a response to the note, and gets it — not just the obscene message forwarded from his mother, but an explosion of invective from Kevin himself, who’s now feeling the energy in the room, and the awesome power of having been given permission to transgress.
Surely, he received detention. But just as surely, an entertainer was born. And in this bit, you see Hart hitting his stride as an A-list comedian, and as a stand-up artist — drawing on his (sometimes painful) personal life and turning it into funny, resonant autobiography and skillful storytelling.