Philadelphia’s own funny guy Kevin Hart once only dreamed of winding up on the Philadelphia Eagles field. Now the George Washington High School graduate will become the first stand-up comic to ever headline an NFL stadium when he takes the Linc stage in August.
The 35-year-old comic actor returned home Wednesday to tour the football stadium before his historic event. Hart took a few minutes to sit down with NBC10 in the Eagles locker room that will be his for one night this summer to talk about his love for his hometown, caring for Philadelphia students, his secret desire to be a hand model, and his status as a “comic rock star.”
You grew up here. Did you ever think this would be your locker room for one night?
"Yes! When I was six! (he laughs) No, of course not. There is no way you ever see this day coming, which is why you need to soak it all in — which is why you need to really access the moment and go, 'Wow, I can't believe that I'm actually in the position I'm in.' As a comedian I'm about to perform at the Lincoln Financial Field. This is the first time a comedian has done anything like this.
"With that being said, do you poke your chest out about it or does it humble you and make your really realize how amazing an loyal your fans are and how lucky you are to have these people in your support corner."
Having grown up here, are you upset you won't be performing at the Vet since it isn't around anymore?
"No, the Linc is new. (he laughs) I want the Linc! I want the Linc all day every day. It's a different venue but it's the same history. At the end of the day this is our football stadium, this is where the pride of Philadelphia lies."
What is it about Eagles fans?
"The fact that we have die-hard Eagles fans despite the fact that our Eagles continue to struggle shows how amazing this city is. I look at myself, not as an Eagle, but something like it because I have die-hard fans that refuse to let me die or go down. You don't take that for granted. You gotta understand how powerful that is and take the time to thank God and constantly thank your fans — constantly do things to make them aware that you don't take advantage of that — that's why I do so much in return."
As a public school product yourself, what does it mean to you to give back (computers, donations, etc.) to Philly schools?
"You want to be a certain level of inspiration and motivation for your city — for the youth in your city.
"I want kids to look at me and go, 'Wow, Kevin made it out of here and he comes back and look at what he's doing — people care.' Sometimes a lot of these kids are put into situations where they feel like no one cares. To see me make the efforts that I make to try and do so much for the city, it just shows that I care, I do want to be involved.
"I'm not just a guy who says things for the moment, I'm a guy that's going to do things long-term — I'm going to be around for quite sometime — and I want to see my city get better and hopefully continuously grow."
Did you ever think you would be at this point in your career after starting out in small venues like the old Laff House?
"I never saw it getting to this point, which is why it's so surreal. You're talking about a guy who started out at restaurants ... Warmdaddy's. You're talking about a guy who performed at the New Market Cabaret, amateur night at the Laff House, and now it's gone from the Tower Theater to Well's Fargo to Lincoln Financial Field — the trajectory is through the roof.
"The hard work and dedication to get me here is not something that I want to be unmentioned or unseen."
You'll be performing on the Eagles field just like our own Vai Sikahema once did. What's your message for Vai?
"I would tell you to take this one to the house but I think I'm going to be able to do it all by myself — I'm not going to need you to run this one back. I want to do it here, on my lonesome Aug. 30, it's going down. If you do not have your tickets you are going to miss history ... Lincoln Financial Field, first comedian to even perform at the stadium ... don't miss this, you don't want to, trust me!"
What tricks do you have for the bigger venue?
"I'm gonna make myself disappear and come back — that's my closer. And in the middle I might set myself on fire. The production for this show is going to be epic."
So can you give us some hints about what to expect as you wrap up your "What Now Tour" in Philly?
"This show will be an event — there's no repeat activity of what you've seen from me in the past ... This is real deal production. I will make people understand what I meant when I said 'comedic rock star' -- I'm going to give you a rock star-like environment in a comedy situation."
NBC10 Twitter follower @DanielleSacco asked about what you spoke to Jay-Z and Beyoncé about after the Oscars?
"Those are close friends of mine, there is always silliness. Probably talking about each other, busting on each other ... it's just silliness, you're talking about a bunch of big kids."
You're playing a football stadium, growing up did you think you would be a football player, a basketball player, a baseball player — was it always a comic?
"No! I was going to be a hand model for quite sometime. I said, 'I'm about to go hand modeling.' Because, at one point, I had beautiful hands. The secret is you have to put Crisco on your hands."
Tickets to Hart’s Aug. 30 homecoming show at Lincoln Financial Field start at $20 and are available now.