Kevin Hart: ‘The Idea of Politics for Me Is Not One That I Associate With Humor.’

The Mark Twain Prize has honored performers who have made a lasting impact on humor and culture for twenty-five years. Honorees receive a bronze bust of Twain. 


Mark Twain, the iconic American writer and satirist, was born Samuel Clemens. He was a gifted storyteller. Sunday night the award ceremony was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In this case, it is a lifetime achievement award in comedy given to comedian Kevin Hart. 

The venue honors American Humor. In a change of pace for many awards shows, this one mostly steered clear of jokes based on politics. That was likely a nod to Hart, who said during a red-carpet interview that his comedy avoids politics. He said, “The idea of politics is not one that I associate with humor.”

I think that’s an understandable opinion. Few of us these days find politics amusing. Mostly there is anger and frustration at politicians who seem to serve themselves more than they serve their constituents. 

There were a few political zingers scattered throughout the ceremony. One was delivered by Dave Rubenstein, chairman of the Mark Twain Prize. He hosted the event

He said author and humorist Twain would be 214-years-old if he were alive to see the award presented to Hart. Rubenstein said that would be ‘just about the age when you can run for president’ amid a race for the White House between President Joe Biden, 81, and former President Trump, 77.

That’s not exactly a controversial joke. Everyone acknowledges that Joe Biden is old, even his fellow Democrats. Trump, too, is no spring chicken. Trump’s age isn’t front and center in the 2024 presidential campaign, though, because he does not look feeble and in the throes of dementia, as Biden is now. Biden does not present an image of someone up to the job of being the leader of the free world. 


Some other politically-based jabs came from the likes of Chris Rock, Chelsea Handler, and Tiffany Haddish. 

Meanwhile, Chris Rock said there are some ‘dark days coming’ if Donald Trump wins in 2024.

Chelsea Handler joked that Hart formed his own ‘border crisis’ by traveling over the Canadian-U.S. border when he was filming a movie during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tiffany Haddish said onstage that she found her new ‘baby daddy’ after a man who ‘looks like he works in Congress’ laughed enthusiastically at all of her jokes. gird his loins. Right now the presidential race is looking pretty good for Donald Trump. The squawkers in the entertainment who trash Trump only remind us that Trump is one of them. They all liked him and went on The Apprentice until he became the Republican nominee in 2016. Then he was an outcast. Hypocrisy, much?

Gird your loins, Chris Rock. Things are looking pretty good for Donald Trump these days in the 2024 presidential election cycle. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are scoring historically low numbers in polls that measure favorability and competence in office.

Lots of comedians showed up to support Kevin Hart. 

Among the elite appearances included Jerry Seinfeld; Lil Dicky, a rapper whose real name is Dave Burd; Jimmy Fallon, who performed an original comedy song about Hart; Nick Cannon; J.B. Smoove; Keith Robinson, who suffered two strokes but still showed-up; longtime Hart co-star Regina Hall; and brief musical performances from Robin Thicke and Nelly.


 Hart was asked how he bridges the political divide and navigates comedy in such a divided country

‘That’s a great question. I mean, honestly, I don’t really partake in it,’ he said. ‘I’m a product of bringing people together. You know, my comedy is one that’s global – and when you’re global, you’re in an environment where laughter is the priority.’

‘It doesn’t mean I’m against political humor, it’s just more that I understand my lane and I operate in what I do very well,’ he added.

Hart concluded: ‘The idea of politics for me is not one that I associate with humor.’

Smart man. The most successful comedians appeal to everyone, not just those who agree with them politically. Dave Chappell was there, sitting side by side with Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. Chappelle, Seinfeld, and Ray Romano are examples of successful comedians who are generally politically neutral. I’ve enjoyed all three of them in Netflix specials recently.

Chappelle, who received his own Mark Twain Prize in 2019, kept his remarks serious — calling Hart “a very powerful dreamer.”

He spoke of Hart selling out a 53,000-seat football stadium — Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field in 2015 — as a level of ambition and achievement that was inspirational to himself and Rock.

“You made me dream bigger, and you’re younger than me,” he told Hart.


Kevin Hart has appeared in 93 movies and television shows with nine in development. Other comedians who have received the award include Richard Pryor, who received the first award, George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett, and Dave Chapelle. Bill Cosby was honored in 2009. His Mark Twain Prize was rescinded in 2019 after allegations of sexual assault.

The ceremony was taped and will be broadcast on Netflix beginning on May 11.



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