Intimidating raccoons, men with no knees and orangutan attacks may sound like the contents of a hallucination, but they were just parts of Kevin Hart’s nearly perfect comedy set at the Thomas M. Ryan Center on Sunday night.
Hart received a standing ovation from a crowd of more than 4,300 people after his performance to close out Homecoming weekend. The attendance was especially impressive as tickets were only available to University of Rhode Island students, faculty and alumni, yet the Ryan Center was nearly sold out with their purchases alone.
Comedians Joey Wells and Will “Spank” Horton, who make up the comedy duo Plastic Cup Boyz, opened for Hart.
Wells, a writer for BET’s “Comicview” and “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” hosted the show. Wells appealed to the predominantly college crowd and did an adequate job. The set did not really feature any diverse material and mainly pandered to the audience but provoked several laughs because they were relatable.
Half of his jokes consisted of calling out each individual class in the crowd and making general comments about stereotypes associated with them, like freshmen switching majors and seniors having to come back for a fifth year occasionally. Wells also engaged the alumni, but the material fell flat.
Horton followed Wells with a somewhat better performance. Horton talked about cheating on tests during college and dance floor etiquette at parties, which appealed a little more to real-life and current experiences of the crowd. That being said, some of his material, like his breast-size roll call, bordered on ridiculous and unprepared.
While the opening acts were passable at best, the previews are almost never as good as the movie. Hart took the stage and had the audience wrapped around his finger from the first joke. His trademark brand of vulgar and physical comedy had the nearly capacity Ryan Center rolling back and forth with laughter.
Hart debuted fresh material for the performance, and as a result there were severe restrictions in place barring cell phone use during the show. To give away too many of his new jokes would ruin the show for any potential viewers later on, but the wide array of topics he covered in about an hour was covered and transitioned between very well.
The comedy ranged from situations grounded in reality, like family stories and public embarrassment, to ones grounded in the absurd, such as waking up hungover after a night of extremely competitive table tennis with a bunch of friends. The diversity of the material, combined with Hart’s boisterous and personal manner of delivering it, made the show superb.
Hart was able to put on an excellent show through engaging the crowd, laughing with them at his material and getting very intimate with them. He gave details of his life, not caring how embarrassing or far-fetched they may seem, and leveled with audience members as adults and not merely as college students.
However, I could have done without the several horrendous Kevin Hart impressions that I heard walking away from the Ryan Center.