FROM THE VAULT: Old-School 2009 Interview with Kevin Hart
We’re kicking off a new feature called, “FROM THE VAULT” where we revisit notable throwback interviews. The first in the series is a recap of our 2009 interview with Comedian Kevin Hart.
Back in 2009, we had a chance to interview Kevin Hart before his rise to fame. We headed to Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles with our rinky dink camera and recorder. Once we got to the venue, we were escorted backstage at Shaquille O’ Neal’s All Star Comedy Jam. Check out the interview below as Hart discusses how he got into comedy, his early days as a shoe salesmen/guru and his experience filming on the other side of the world.
We are here at Club Nokia with Kevin Hart.
So, I read that you quit your job as a shoe salesmen to pursue comedy. Can you tell me more about that?
Yes, yes I did. I was a successful shoe salesman, one of the best in the business. I could break down anything about a sneaker: Polyurethane, etc., those are the things that I’m educated on.
When I decided not to take that career any further, I said you know what, let me branch off into stand up comedy. The reason why, because I can go far in that, said I’m not going to go that much further selling sneakers because I know everything there is to know. At this point, I was a guru. I was going to work for NIKE but then said I don’t wanna do it, let me start doing comedy. Did some amateur nights, once I did amateur nights, quit my job instantly and said this is what it is, this is what I want to do – told my mom and then mom supported me, put me on her back and said , “OK babe, if this is what you want to do, I want you to do it to the best of your ability,” and I did. Long story short, got successful, things started to happen right after.
Now, how old were you when you decided to jump the “shoe ship”?
I was… what was I? I was 17, 18.
Wow, that’s daring. So, are there any comedians you admire?
Oh, there’s tons man. All the ones that, I guess you can say, paved the way for me to do what I do. From your Pryors, to your Cosby’s, to your Eddie Murphy’s to your Chappelles, Sinbads to Cosby, to guys that you wouldn’t even know. Keith Robinson, Patrice O’Neal, Rich Voz, Jim Norton, tons man. The list goes on and on. It’s not about who’s successful, it’s about people that motivate you. Colin Quinn, another good guy that was around me. You know, guys that pushed me to go and get to another level.
Ok, and how was it working on “Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire”?
In Budapest! I was over there in Hungary for 3 in a half months. You know it was a fun experience. Anytime you get to work out the country, you know, experience culture in a different place, you have to adapt to people that speak a different language, it’s fun, educational. I’m not a big traveler though. Not to places where I’m really a foreigner, where I don’t know what’s going on. I had a good time, as far as the work goes but as far as enjoying the city, I didn’t do much. I was a hobbit. Went to my hotel, went to the gym, ate Subway everyday and pretty much went to work. That was it.
So, how do you balance being away from your family?
Um, there is no way to balance it, you know you kinda gotta accept it for being what it is. You know, I work, I’m an entertainer, but unfortunately, you know with being an entertainer, it’s not all gravy. Some things are rough. You gotta try to find a small balance. The time you do have with your family, you capitalize on it, when you work, you make sure your family understands why you work and why you work as much as you do. It’s to support them at the end of the day.
Are you working on any projects right now?
Just got done doing a movie, “Death At a Funeral” that comes out in February or April – it’s one of those months. I’m about to do another hour special for Comedy Central, getting ready to do a campaign with eBay that I just booked – being a spokesperson for them, doing several commercials for them, touring going to theaters now 2000 – 2500 seaters. Good things right now. No complaints.
Awesome, so what do you do when you’re not working? What do you do in your spare time?
I try to be with my kids as much as I can. Sleep, trying to sleep. Go to the gym and try to become a sex symbol. That’s what I’m workin’ on. Getting these pecks together. That’s really it man. Play a little poker every now and then. Other than that, I try to put time in with my little ones.
Ok and do you give back to your community in any way?
No! To hell with, nah I’m joking. Philadelphia, last year was the first year that I did something to give back. I did a toy drive where I did comedy shows and donated all the proceeds, it was about $25,000 – $30,000 donated back to the community and put on a toy drive for the kids, had them come out. This year, I’m not going to do toys, I’ll probably do something as far as books, raising money and donating a check to a local youth center or you know, a local “Y” to rebuild some things rather than do a toy drive. It’s easy to give kids toys but now I’ve done that, been there so I’m trying to step it up and see if I can do something else.
Great and what are some of your goals and have you achieved most of them?
I achieved one of them that’s really important. I make money by making people laugh. That’s my job. I love it, I don’t want to change it for nothing. I don’t want to change it at all. Another goal was to start a production company, I did that and now, just to get it moving I want to get some projects going where I’m producing, directing and starring in my own films and raising beautiful babies, keep my family together and keep ’em off the cookies their mom keeps giving them.
Ok, that was the last question… Alright, that’s a wrap.
(Kevin to his daughter) “Say, ok thanks for talking to my daddy.”
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