To be fair, comedy can be a brutal industry regardless of venue, but this was crystalized for Hart when he performed a stand-up routine during a crab festival in New York. The crowd at this particular crab fest was enjoying their seafood, music and dancing when festival officials halted the entertainment to introduce Hart and his set.
“This is, by far, the most belligerent level of hate that I’ve ever seen toward a joke,” Hart says, smiling, in the above clip.
What the joke actually was doesn’t seem important ― Hart doesn’t retell it ― but there was no way he’d ever forget the crowd reaction.
“It was so quiet. This lady goes, ‘No, baby. No. Just give it up, baby,’” Hart mimics in a sad but gentle voice.
Then, others in the audience voiced their displeasure. “You started to hear people, ‘Yeah, man, we just want to eat crabs!’ It starts to pick up,” Hart says. “Like, ‘Let us eat our crabs! Let us eat our crabs!’”
Yes, the crowd began chanting.
“They didn’t boo me. They protested me,” Hart says. “I would have rather you boo me off the stage, but they act like I was stopping a good time... Like, you can’t eat and watch? Y’all can’t do them both at the same time?”
The comedian says he couldn’t help but defend his performance. “It’s bad when you start explaining yourself: ‘I was booked! They booked me! They told me y’all wanted me here!’” Hart laughs. “That one hurt.”
“Oprah’s Master Class” returns with guests such as Rep. John Lewis and Usher in August. You can watch Kevin Hart’s full episode for free online from now through December.