Direct from his palatial living room, Kevin Hart riffs on Covid, getting older, and brick oven pizzas in his latest Netflix special.
Kevin Hart: Zero ***** Given debuted on Netflix on November 17, 2020.
I suppose I should have known.
When I read that Kevin Hart’s latest Netflix special, No ***** Given, was performed and filmed in his living room, I expected, obviously naively, it to be a more lo-fi affair than his standard pyrotechnic-festooned arena shows. But this is the most successful comedian in the world, perhaps in the history of comedy, and that level of success obviously buys you certain comforts. As it turns out, those comforts include a palatial living that looks like a movie set and can cram in a bigger audience than most comedy clubs. As Hart explains in his opener, he’s not comfortable being anywhere else but home at the moment — if I had his house, I don’t think I would be either.
Of course, there’s a reason to stay inside now — Covid, or “The Vid” as Hart calls it, since it makes it sound as dangerous as AIDS. Hart and his family contracted Covid-19 back in the early days before it was a trend, but it was mostly kept quiet because Tom Hanks had it at the same time and his level of celebrity would have eclipsed Hart’s announcement. That’s as good a reason as any to stay inside, and it’s nice to hear a celebrity — someone with a stage in their living room, no less — admit to having similar anxieties as we did. I didn’t spend $20,000 on masks, but I might have done if I had that level of disposable income.
And staying inside means that Hart has nothing else to talk about except his day-to-day with his wife and kids, which leads into a bit about his dumb son and private schools “breeding b*tches”. That’s a position I can respect. Of course, my kids don’t go to private school but, again, maybe they would if I could afford it. It’s easy to hate on very rich and successful people like Kevin Hart, especially when he talks about his kids being spoiled by their circumstances. When they stay with their mother, they act like they’re in Baghdad. They’ve only ever flown private. They’ve only ever been chaperoned to the front of queues at amusement parks. That’s rich people sh*t, for sure. But for those of us who’ve been in those queues, who continue to be in those queues, can we really say we wouldn’t do the exact same thing if we could?
This has always been the secret of Hart’s monumental success. He comes from nothing, and he still remembers what it was like. He knows he’s only sending his kids to private schools because that’s what you do when you’re rich, and he knows that they’re spoiled as a result. That’s why he’s still likable; we get to see ourselves in his success, those lingering attitudes of normality that still peep out through his moneyed facade. Those are our attitudes. And as it turns out, no amount of money in the world can protect you from the usual petty arguments with the spouse. It can’t stop you from getting older, can’t stop your nights out becoming aimless, or discussions about gout creeping into your group chats (I’m not sure we needed the visual aid here, but I guess there had to be some post-production flourishes).
A lot of Kevin Hart: Zero ***** Given is about Hart getting older. The sex dries up, for one thing. But what also happens is your kids and nephews and such all grow into the lifestyle you left behind. Hart’s problem isn’t so much growing out of the party lifestyle — especially since he kept getting caught in compromising positions as a result of it — but trying to find something else to do instead. It’s hard for all of us, but it seems much harder for celebrities. You go for dinner at Jerry Seinfeld’s house and all of a sudden you have brick pizza oven envy. You try and take up boxing and the biggest fight is trying to just treat it as a hobby (then comes realizing you’re too old and pampered even for that.)
When he discusses having been compared to a one-armed boxer with a squeaky voice, Hart wonders aloud if it’ll be the one-armed community who cancel him next. Probably. But he’s in the comfort of his own home, isn’t he? Can’t he say what he wants? He certainly seems to think so, and judging by that living room, if he keeps doing what he’s doing he’s going to be just fine.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.