Published Nov 17, 2011Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.
As suggested by the title of Kevin Hart's wildly successful 2011 comedy tour, which grossed more than $15 million in ticket sales, Laugh at My Pain is a work of self-deprecation and catharsis, making light of taboo subjects with extreme impropriety. His candid telling of childhood horrors spawned by a drug-addicted father with a propensity for public embarrassment raises the bar (critically speaking) from his previous specials, making his repetitive, insular shtick somewhat more palatable for those unaccustomed to hearing the N-bomb repeated ad nauseam.
Starting out with a rant about tepid celebrity status, detailing nights out with Mekhi Phifer and various sports celebrities spending an abundance of cash, Hart attempts to make himself identifiable by complaining of bank account limitations. It's a peculiar and oddly slanted tactic that doesn't really work, seeing how it's nearly impossible to identify with the superficiality of someone attempting to assimilate to a crude celebrity ideology, doling out loads of money to get drunk with insecure poseurs while his child sleeps at home.
But knowing the human desire for sound bites and nifty taglines, he injects his rant with the phrase, "You see, my bank account works like this" about 40 times, so that audience members can relish the familiar, laughing out of expectation rather than sincere appeal.
This also goes for his more intimate material, wherein he discusses his stoned father showing up at a spelling bee in track pants yelling, "Alright, Alright, Alri-ight," shocking fellow parents with his large, visibly bouncing penis, or "long dick," as Hart puts it. The story has the potential for comic greatness, juxtaposing a cute childhood event with the horror of a stoned parent yelling profanity at small children, but Hart sticks to what he knows and just repeatedly yells, "Alright, Alright, Alri-ight," appealing to the lowest common denominator.
In this sense, fans of broad humour should appreciate the catchphrases they can take away from the show, awkwardly repeating the jokes to co-workers, while everyone else will just get a migraine from the constant yelling and desultory nature of it all. (VSC)