April 13, 2024

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Kevin Hart receives the Mark Twain Award for American Humor

Kevin Hart receives the Mark Twain Award for American Humor

Kevin Hart stepped into the spotlight Sunday night with his usual swagger to accept the Mark Twain Award for American Humor, occupying a lit stage with his signature fireworks.

“Can I pee?” Mr. Hart said after a heartfelt tribute from his friend, the comedian Dave Chappelle, before strolling offstage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. He then appeared again to accept a bust of Mark Twain from David M. Rubinstein, the retired president of the Kennedy Center.

Mr. Hart, 44, is the 25th comedian to receive the award from the Kennedy Center, an honor given annually to the greatest comedians in American comedy. Joined by his wife and four children, Mr Hart smiled broadly even as he teared up at the hilarious roasts and emotional tributes from friends and industry colleagues.

“I've played arenas with Chris Rock, and I'll never play an arena before I see you do it,” Mr. Chappelle said, crediting Hart with changing the stand-up comedy business after a career selling out comedy tours and even a hometown football stadium. His head is Philadelphia. “You make me dream bigger, and you're younger than me – it's humiliating.”

Over the course of his nearly 25-year career — it has been noted that he has been doing comedy since the beginning of the Mark Twain Award in the late 1990s — Mr. Hart has sold millions of tickets. He has built a loyal fan base through films, television series and numerous live events – some enhanced by pyrotechnics – including eight comedy specials about interconnected narratives, physical comedy and goofy reenactments. But even when he's attacking the cast of characters that come in and out of his life, he's usually the butt of his own jokes.

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His peers on Sunday also praised his work ethic, which includes appearing and casting friends in a slate of Hollywood films, such as the “Jumanji” franchise, dramas such as “Fatherhood” and “Night School,” and a number of comedies. films.

“I didn't start out doing what I started out doing to get awards,” Mr. Hart said. “I fell in love with the idea of ​​comedy. It made me say, 'Oh my God, I've fallen in love with something that I can do for the rest of my life.'

Sunday night's show featured fellow comedians Mr. Chappelle, who received the 2019 Mark Twain Award; Chris Rock, who headlined a tour and subsequent 2023 documentary with Mr. Hart called “Headlines Only”; J. B. Smoove, who met Mr. Hart at the place where he started his business, the Laff House in Philadelphia; Jimmy Fallon, who delivered a tribute in the form of an original country song, complete with heavy riffs and a cowboy hat; Plus Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall, Chelsea Handler, Nick Cannon and Keith Robinson. Singer Robin Thicke and rappers Nelly and Dave Burd performed at the event.

She also paid tribute to the comedy and improv group the Plastic Cup Boys, which opened for Mr. Hart 17 years ago.

Mr. Hart said receiving the Mark Twain Award, considered by many to be a lifetime achievement award in comedy, meant a lot because of the colleagues who came to honor him. After referencing several speakers who criticized his comedy style, pulled pranks and reminded the audience of his small frame (Ms. Haddish likened the comedian, who is a few inches taller than 5 feet, to a fetus), Mr. Hart said before the award with tears streaming down his face.

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“Jokes aside, thank you for coming on a night that was so dope, and it can't be so dope without real relationships and real energy,” Mr. Hart said.

The concert will be available to stream on Netflix starting May 11.