Kevin Hart Is Just The Right Height, Thank You Very Much

Kevin Hart Is Just The Right Height, Thank You Very Much

Kevin Hart’s high school friend sent him an email, inviting the comedian to come get his. Inside the message was a before-and-after picture — a short, scowling guy standing next to a doctor (before) and the same guy, now towering over his doctor and giving the thumbs up (after). What exactly was the friend trying to say? “They giving out height,” his friend said. “Go get you some.”

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The weird trend of leg extension surgery is a natural topic for Kevin Hart, the comic who claims to have been 5 foot 5 his whole life (okay, 5-foot 4, okay fine, 5-foot-2-½). But in his new Peacock special Reality Check, Hart tears apart the ridiculous suggestion that he should buy himself some vertical. “I will do no such thing!”

Think these things through, he shouts! Stop acting on impulse. And when Hart does consider the consequences of stretching out his legs, he makes some good arguments against it. Wouldn’t he look ridiculous with long-ass legs and the same short arms he always had? “Now I can’t put my hands in my pockets!” Leg problem solved, but now Hart looks like a T Rex. “I’m 6-foot-6 but I still wear a size 7 sneaker! I didn’t do shit to my feet! Now I can’t support the new body!” 

It’s probably not hard to imagine Hart delivering the goods on a routine like this. One of our most physical comedians, Hart uses his body like a punchline, dominating the stage with his oversized presence despite his diminutive stature. Fourteen years removed from his first comedy special, I’m A Grown Little Man, Hart now roars with a relaxed confidence that makes him appear as if he actually is 6-foot-6. 

He opens the show with a baseball bat on his shoulder, a comic response to the recent trend of comedy audiences believing that rushing the stage or throwing a beer bottle or two is part of the price of admission. But the only weapon Hart needs is that considerable confidence — he starts the show firing stories at 100 miles per hour and never lets up, a barrage that has the audience in his back pocket from the get-go.

Physicality continues to be the key for Hart. His material, if one were to read a transcript of the jokes without seeing the performance, isn’t transcendent stuff. But his comic intensity makes the words beside the point. The show’s biggest laughs — Hart searching for hair on top of LeBron James’ scalp, impersonating a woman harassed in the metaverse, showing us how a deviant assaults Denny’s breakfasts — come with no dialogue at all. 

Is this the top of Hart’s game? Hard to say, but he’s clearly maturing as a comic. There’s emotional weight around a story about his recently deceased father — Hart refuses the audience’s sympathy because as a comedian, he’s able to keep his dad alive through the stories he tells on stage. And while Hart has never been a political comedian, he manages to address America’s racial strife in ways that are both meaningful and comically personal, always self-deprecating and the butt of his own jokes even when he’s punching up.

It’s been four years since Hart’s last tour — guessing we can thank Covid for that — but he still has his fastball. And he proves that he doesn’t need physical height to go get his.

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