Kevin Hart is going to keep telling his jokes, even if it means stepping on the nerves of hecklers.
“I think that the world that we’re in right now, there’s a lot of lines that have gotten blurred, and sometimes you got to take a couple steps backwards to take some steps forwards,” Hart said during his May 5 appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
The entertainment mogul’s comments came on the heels of fellow comedian Dave Chappelle being attacked while performing a set at the Hollywood Bowl for the Netflix is a Joke Fest. The brazen attack included Chappelle being tackled to the ground by a man wielding a replica gun with a knife at the end of the barrel. The alleged attacker, who has been identified as Isaiah Lee, found himself in the throes of a beatdown by swift-moving security before any real physical harm could be inflicted upon Chappelle. Hart hopes the outcome of the melee serves as a deterrent to those mulling over their own plans of attack on a comedian.
“Somebody getting their ass whipped sends a message out to other people that was like, ‘You know, I was thinking about doing that, but seeing that, I don’t really want to do that,’” he said.
The “True Story” star is currently selling out tickets for his Reality Check tour. This summer he also will be joined by Chris Rock to co-headline a set of five shows that are billed as Rock Hart: Only Headliners Allowed.
Rock himself was recently attacked onstage by Will Smith while presenting an award at the Oscars in March. With assaults seemingly being doled out left and right, it would come as no surprise if Hart had some apprehension about hitting the stage and striking a nerve with audience members. But instead that’s the least of his concerns.
“Ultimately, these moments of unprofessionalism should not break professionals,” said Hart. He continued by explaining that hecklers and disapproving audience members are not new, in fact they are unanimously accepted as part of the comedy culture; the physical attacks however, are more or less a sign of societal sensitivities.
To that Hart said, “They [unprofessional moments] shouldn’t shape or mold the world that we’re now being seen or viewed in. It’s time to get back to a place of respect for your live entertainer. … We’ve now lost sight of the relationship of audience to comedian, and that line has gotten blurred to where it’s like, ‘Well, I don’t need to do this and like this, and I can stand up and make a point.’”
The HartBeat founder doesn’t expect everyone to laugh at jokes made at their expense, but at minimum hopes people can enjoy what resonates with them and brush off that which does the opposite.
“When I say we need to get back to the place of respecting the entertainer, respect the craft. If you’re coming, come to have a good time and enjoy the person that you saw. If you have no interest in that, you don’t have to buy a ticket. You don’t have to go.”