If you saw Kevin Hart’s opening monologue on “Saturday Night Live” Jan. 17, you saw the PG-13 version — his words — of the first 10 minutes or so of his stand-up routine at in Pittsburgh last night. You may also have noted the shout out to Heinz Hall in a sketch about him having an appearance there, and that’s where he made those self-preservation jokes pay off.
On Sunday, we heard the R-rated version of the opening about being afraid of the wild animals in his neighborhood (in particular one menacing raccoon), not trusting his contractor and making his son take the trash out in the dark that faded into what seemed like a long, winding path of observations about ordering at Starbucks and his daughter’s patience when it comes to getting a good scream out of him and sorry, but he wouldn’t want to be with someone who had lost a shoulder in a mountain lion attack or lost his or her knees to a nasty orangutan.
The latter lead to his favorite and oft repeated joke of the night — the black woman who reacts to such farfetched stories with, “Orangutan? Reeeeally?” That one got a workout, but it didn’t get old, mostly because of his joy in delivering it.
Hart, the star of “The Wedding Ringer” with Josh Gad, out Friday, had a big weekend that continues today. He was the second half of the What Now? Tour — after three opening acts — here for four shows. I was at the first at 7; then they were on at 10 Sunday and again at 7 and 10 tonight.
The three openers whose names went by quickly got about the initial reaction you’d expect when unannounced acts delay a headliner’s appearance. I say unannounced because, well, try to Google “Kevin Hart” and the tour name and even opening acts and let me know what you find. They were not interchangeable although sex, race and parenthood were through themes, and yes, Bill Cosby was mentioned to groans and a few chuckles.
A couple of the comedians, Hart included, commented on the cold in Pittsburgh, as if they were surprised there was a chill here in January. Hart had just come from New York so I wasn’t buying that, but the audience went along and laughed politely or heartily throughout the night.
The one constant before Hart’s appearance was warnings about cell phone usage and it was odd to see yellow-shirted security guards with flashlights moving alongside tuxedoed ushers up and down the Heinz Hall aisles.
The emcee may have gotten his biggest laughs when explaining how people of different races and ethnicities should not react if tapped to leave because they were caught using their cell phones during the act.
When Hart finally strode out in a black and white striped jersey emblazoned with “HBA” (hot by association, I take it?), it was to a movie star’s welcome.
Hart’s star is shining bright these days on screen, but he obviously thrives in the glow of a live spotlight. When he left the stage a little before 9 p.m., he made a point to thank Pittsburgh audiences for their support throughout his career, including early appearances at local clubs, and said he would always include us on any tour. We’ll keep the welcome mat out, I’m sure.