ATLANTA — Kevin Hart remembered when he took the stage early in his career and told a joke so bad an audience member tossed a Buffalo-style chicken wing at him, slapping him on the cheek.
"It hit me right here, with the sauce dripping from my face," said the comedian, poking his cheek before pointing to the floor. "It was the worst. I wanted to step to the guy who threw it, but he was too big. You know, I'm a little guy. So, I wiped the chicken sauce off and tried to finish."
An embarrassing moment such as this might have forced any other amateur comedian into an early retirement. But Hart has found a way to craft his comedy act around his most shameful situations, turning them into laughable ones.
For Hart, it's therapy.
"That's my drug, to go on stage and show people what I'm going through," said Hart, whose first standup comedy movie "Laugh at My Pain" will premiere in 100 AMC theaters in the United States and in East and West Africa on Thursday.
Hart's "therapy" has made him one of the most in-demand comedians in the business right now. He's coming off a well-received appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards, where he delivered the opening monologue and starred in humorous vignettes during the show; he also hosted this year's BET Awards. Hart's profile has also risen thanks to a string of standup TV specials, including "Seriously Funny" in 2010, as well as a Ford Explorer commercial along with a couple of Air Jordan commercials alongside Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.
With his new movie, Hart will become the first black comedian to have his standup performance showcased in movie theaters since Martin Lawrence's 2002 concert film, "Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat." Hart will join an elite list of black comedians who have had their standup act shown on the big screen, including Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Lawrence and the four comedians of the 2000 standup film, "The Original Kings of Comedy."
Some consider the 33-year-old Hart today's king of comedy.
"He is willing to share his life and experiences from his past," said Steve Harvey, one of the "Original Kings" who has given Hart advice through his career. Hart has appeared as a co-host on Harvey's nationally-syndicated radio program, "The Steve Harvey Morning Show" and will be in the upcoming film "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man," which is based on Harvey's best-selling book.
"Kevin is open about his relationship, his parenting skills and his childhood," he continues. "That's how you get an audience to identify. He's probably doing it better than anyone else right now. That's what I like about him."
In "Laugh at My Pain," Hart openly talks about at his father's drug addiction, pokes fun at how his family coped with the death of his mother, takes a jab at his 5-foot-5 height and discusses his legal separation from his wife Torre Hart, who is also a comedian. The movie also includes a touching moment when Hart visits his hometown in Philadelphia: He holds a family gathering and tears up while giving thanks to his aunt and others for supporting him after his mother died from cancer in 2007.
The film, co-directed by Hart, was filmed during his 90-city tour earlier this year. The tour grossed more than $15 million.
"I talk about the things people normally wouldn't laugh at," he said. "Those moments were tough. But you got to take your lumps. You don't have a success story without them."
Hart has used the Internet and social media to his advantage, occasionally responding to many of his 2 million-plus followers on Twitter, along with interactions on Facebook and live chat through the Web site Ustream. He also posted a few videos of his personal life that went viral — hanging out with Jermaine Durpi and Diddy, and playing a pickup basketball game against NBA player Shannon Brown.
"Visual media is huge," he said. "The Internet has taken such a hold on our society today. For our youth, that's how they operate. Television is going to get to the point where it's going to go through the Internet. So, I'm just trying to get my hand on it early."
Ultimately, Hart wants to build his brand beyond comedy. He's appeared in lead and cameo roles in more than 20 movies since 2002 with a resume that includes "Soul Plane," ''Fools Gold," ''Little Fockers" and "Death at a Funeral." Most have not received good reviews, but he looks at each role as an opportunity to enhance his likeability.
Hart isn't shy about letting people know he's made plenty of money during his career. But he also wants his career to be more than making the big bucks, looking to own his projects as a writer and producer like his idol Chris Rock.
"I'm a millionaire, but it's not enough," Hart said. "It's about owning. It's not about making the money. It's about what you do with the money once you have it. Chris Rock directs, writes, produces and stars in his projects. He creates because he wants to keep his brand going."
Hart has already made an impression as a business-minded entertainer. He met with AMC Theaters executives to help close the deal on his debut standup movie.
"You know the term showbiz? Well, Kevin knows how to go back and forth from the show and biz," said Jeff Clanagan, the CEO of Codeblack Entertainment, which produced and distributed "Laugh at My Pain." ''He's talented. We all know that. But he can also put on the CEO hat. There are not many people who can do the show and the business."
Outside of his comedy and acting endeavors, he is filming a documentary to explore the preparation of his comedy act, and has recently launched own mobile application, "Little Jumpman," a game that shows a character with the likeness of Hart jumping as high as he can to earn points. The comedian's YouTube video channel, Twitter and Facebook updates can also be accessed through the application.
"It's all about my long term goals," he said. "How do I become a mogul? The only way to do that is to constantly reinvent myself and invest in myself." -- (AP)
LOS ANGELES — However riotous the Eddie Murphy stories from Arsenio Hall, Tracy Morgan, Adam Sandler and Russell Brand, the highlight of Spike TV's tribute to Murphy was the comedian's duet with Stevie Wonder.
Murphy joined the subject of one of his most classic impressions for a rousing rendition of Wonder's 1973 hit "Higher Ground" during the taping of the Spike TV special "Eddie Murphy: One Night Only," which is set to air Nov. 14. The Roots served as the house band.
Jamie Foxx, Tyler Perry, Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock and Keenan Ivory Wayans were also among those paying tribute to Murphy Saturday at the Saban Theater.
Accompanied by a pretty blonde, Murphy beamed throughout the two-hour program, saying he was touched by the tribute.
"I am a very, very bitter man," he said with a beguiling smile. "I don't get touched easily, and I am really touched."
Morgan called Murphy "my comic hero" and came onstage wearing a replica of Murphy's red leather suit from his standup show "Delirious."
"He set the tone for the whole industry a long time ago," Morgan said before taking the stage. "He inspired me in a fearless way."
Sandler was still in high school when he first saw "Delirious," which he described as "one of the most legendary standup specials of all time."
"Everybody on the planet wanted to be Eddie," he said. "He funnier than us. He's cooler than any of us."
Samuel L. Jackson said Murphy "changed the course of American film history" by giving Jackson his first speaking role on the big screen, in 1988's "Coming to America."
"If it weren't for Eddie, we might not have all the wonderful films that I've made," Jackson quipped.
"He is a true movie star," Jackson continued, lauding Murphy's performance in "48 Hours" and "Beverly Hills Cop." ''You became an inspiration for all young African-American actors."
The program featured clips of Murphy's standup shows, his film appearances in "Shrek" and "Nutty Professor" and his work on "Saturday Night Live."
Murphy insisted before the tribute that he is retired from performing.
"I'm just a retired old song and dance man," he said, adding that he only makes rare appearances these days. "That's what you do when you're retired: You come out every now and then and talk about the old days."
The 51-year-old entertainer took the stage at the conclusion of the tribute to say he was moved by the honor.
"This is really a touching moving thing, and I really appreciate it," he said. "You know what it's like when you have something like this? You know when they sing happy birthday to you? It's like that for, like, two hours... and I am Eddied out." – (AP)
After 14 years working as a celebrity stylist, Davida Colona Roberts has expanded her business horizons and launched a new tea line.
A love of tea spurred Roberts to develop Davinitea – Davida’s Lifestyle Tea. The brand infuses blended tea with the Philadelphia native’s artistic expression.
Developing the tea line gave Roberts the chance to move into what she refers to as “phase two” of her business life.
“I’ve been a wardrobe stylist for the last 14 years and the industry has changed so much with movies being done for low budgets and the music industry tanking and I was thinking what else could I do as my phase two,” says Roberts, who currently resides in Los Angeles.
For Roberts, tapping into the tea business was a natural evolution.
“I’ve always frequented tea bars and made my own concoctions up so that why is was easy for me to come up with it because it’s natural. With me being a wardrobe stylist, I didn’t want to do a clothing line, a T-shirt line or a jeans line. I wanted to do something that didn’t have anything to do with the garment industry. This just seemed like it was just a natural fit,” says the 33-year old.
With an investment of about $30,000, Roberts was able to launch the line of loose and blooming teas that unfurl into flower-like arrangements when steeped in hot water.
The Davinitea line currently offers five flavors including Shrink — an herbal blend of lotus leaf, senna, oolong, marshmallow root and Harmony — a blend containing lemongrass, reishi and jasmine flower.
Due to the holistic herbs that are used in the line, Roberts is hopeful that potential customers will use the teas as a part of their health and beauty regimens.
Roberts says it took about a year to bring the tea line to the marketplace. She developed the tea formulas based on a mixture of her personal taste, talking with friends and working with an herbalist.
“It has a balanced taste. You won’t be overpowered by mint or rose. It’s very balanced.” Roberts says in regards to the tea flavors.
Roberts’ tea business has been influenced by her years in the entertainment industry where she she’s worked with starts such as Chris Brown, Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps, Nas and Jamie Foxx. To that end, she’s encouraged some of her celebrity clients to try the tea line and has designed tea infusers in the shape of music notes.
While the tea is currently sold via the davinitea.com website, Roberts aspires to have the tea carried in upscale day spas, restaurants and hotels.
“We want it to be a high end tea brand. We want it to be a speciality tea all across the board,” Roberts says of the product.
“I want it to be a celebrity-driven brand,” says Roberts, who attended the Moore College of Arts.
“I want this brand to be different than the rest that’s why I refuse to put it in the tea bag form because I don’t want it to be traditional by any stretch of the imagination.”
Funny man Martin Lawrence is returning to the small screen with a starring role in an upcoming CBS comedy pilot.
The as-yet-untitled project will star Lawrence as a widowed father of two who enrolls in the police academy to become a cop at the age of 46 after losing his construction job.
The project, which will be produced by CBS Television Studios, is being written and executive produced by Mike Lisbe and Nate Reger, who recently worked on the network’s “short-lived” offerings “S#*! My Dad Says” and “How to Be a Gentleman.” Lawrence’s managers from the Collective, Michael Green and Sam Maydew, will also executive produce.
Known for his starring portrayals in outrageous feature films such as “Big Mama’s House,” “Boomerang,” “Life,” “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate,” and “Bad Boys,” Lawrence, a two-time Image Award winner and recipient of the 2005 BET Icon Comedy Award, starred in the wildly popular Fox sitcom “Martin” from 1992 to 1997. It was recently announced that he will reprise his role of Detective Marcus Burnett in “Bad Boys 3.”
The Wrap contributed to this report.
NEW YORK — With his latest endeavor, Shaquille O'Neal now considers himself the "Pat Riley of comedy."
The four-time NBA champion likens himself to the famed basketball coach with his ability to pick the right comedians for his "All Star Comedy Jam."
"Humor is a big way to relieve stress, so me being a great leader and being an expert at organizational leadership, I could pick a team, I could pick a street ball team, I could pick a kickball team, I definitely could pick comedians," O'Neal said.
O'Neal said he wanted provide a forum for comics similar to Russell Simmons' "Def Comedy Jam." He was a big fan of the HBO series that launched the careers of Dave Chappelle, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Chris Tucker and others.
But O'Neal said his revue isn't just about black comedy.
"I am not biased. Even though I'm African-American, even though I'm urban, I don't just like urban comedy," O'Neal said. "The guy Jeff Foxworthy — that's some of the best comedy ever — 'You know you're a redneck.' I can relate to that because I went to school in Louisiana and Texas."
The "All Star Comedy Jam" has a lineup that has featured Finesse Mitchell and Gary Owen. The tour ends on New Year's Eve in Atlanta.
One of the comedians O'Neal is highlighting on the tour is the Bronx-born Capone.
"This guy right now here is the LeBron (James). He's the closer," O'Neal said proudly as he patted the comedian on the back.
The drug dealer-turned-comedian says he always had the gift.
"I was somebody who was notorious for pretty much always saying what I felt like saying and I grew a reputation for that," Capone said.
But he says that being funny wasn't enough. "I made the transformation from not wanting to be a drug dealer anymore and turning to comedy."
After struggling for years on the circuit, Capone finally got his break.
"For somebody like Shaq to recognize that is really big," Capone said.
Though his passion is comedy, O'Neal is still involved in basketball — as an NBA analyst on TNT. O'Neal isn't shy to speak his mind: Before the season started, he said Los Angeles Lakers' newly acquired center Dwight Howard wasn't the game's most dominant at his position.
O'Neal caught a lot of flak for the comment, but stands by what he said.
"He's taking it personal, but I want him to get mad so he can dominate," O'Neal said of Howard. "You push your employees' buttons and either they go to the next level or they decline."
While brazen and often funny on television, don't expect O'Neal to get up on a comedy stage anytime soon.
"I know my limits. In my bathroom I'm funny as hell. I can give you seven, eight minutes straight. That's different from going onstage and looking at the guy in the front row and he's looking at you like this," he said, making a blank stare. "So that's always been my fear." -- (AP)