My best friend and I saw Kevin Hart’s new movie, Let Me Explain last weekend. When it was over, we kept the party alive as made our way to the bathroom still cracking up and openly admitting our insanity. Oh my God, I totally do that thing where I get hype and then get all calm and crazy in the same sentence. That’s so me! I’m such a psychopath!
I was washing my hands and still laughing when I noticed my friend staring at me. Her expression was somewhat serious considering our conversation.
“I wonder if his ex-wife gets upset by the jokes. He kinda does what you do except he’s funny.”
Her comment was apropos because I’d recently been questioning my VERY personal style of relationship writing. This self-reflection was forced upon me when my ex-boyfriend called after almost two months of radio silence, and politely asked me not to share the personal details of our breakup on the Internet.
At least I think that’s what he asked; when he started speaking I checked out.
Naturally, I told him I’d stop doing whatever it was that was making him uncomfortable because I love and respect him to go f**ck himself, but when I got off the phone I took a moment to reflect.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
Immediately after I got off the phone with him, I called my girls and waved my little ego around like a phallus. I declared (to my home-girls, not to him) that if he ever called me again, I’d write a blog post on his car with a carving knife.
Admittedly, this was not my proudest moment. But AFTER THAT, when I had no audience besides my own broken heart, I wondered if I, in fact, had betrayed his confidence. I wondered if, by sharing my experience of our breakup, I’d betrayed the sanctity of whatever it is we’d built. For me, blogging is all about releasing my own self-loathing. Words kill feelings. Confession kills shame. I put myself on blast so that, for better or for worse, the experience lives outside of my heart.
I say all of this to say that while Kevin Hart is a comedian, a comedian is a writer; a writer is an artist, and an artist is a sensitive kitten who feels life more than most. So I have to respect the artistry of Kevin Hart’s routine. Just because he’s telling jokes about his marriage, doesn’t mean there isn’t hurt. There are a million ways to exorcise a demon. There are a million ways to grieve that don’t involve an ugly-cry. There are a million ways to create distance from the torment of our own minds.
That’s what I saw in his routine – a man coming to terms with his actions and his mind.
Make no mistake, I didn’t watch the movie with a note pad and a pen, but as I found myself roaring at every single joke, I heard the whispers of some very painful truths. I found the entire routine to be less about his ex, and more about his personal shortcomings. Every joke about his ex existed under the premise that his actions pushed her to her limit. He openly revealed himself as a liar. He cautioned other men not to make the same mistakes. He’s really funny, but he was saying real ass shit.
For me, one of the most powerful moments is when, after waxing poetic about the ways women are “psychopaths,” Hart meditates the reality that his children will eventually have a step-dad. It’s not a dramatic moment, dude doesn’t burst into remorseful tears, but inside of my own laughter this is what I heard: “I’ve willingly abdicated my role as the head of my own household. I’ve left a good woman who wasn’t for me, but I know she’ll move on and love again. Another man will help me raise my kids.”
It’s clear from Hart’s last movie, Laugh at My Pain, we are indeed laughing at his pain. We are laughing with a man who is coming to terms with who he is – the good parts and the bad parts. He seems both shocked by his power and humbled by our ability to accept him as he is. He is extremely vulnerable in his stand up routines, and when we laugh, I suspect, we enter into that vulnerable place with him. He heals us and we heal him, or maybe we’re all just cracking up.
Connection in spite of imperfection is…everything.
Or maybe I’m just projecting all of my stuff onto him. Either way, I ultimately believe that the reasons why some of us are able to laugh at his jokes are the same reasons why others of us are angry – we see ourselves and our experiences in Hart’s screwed up funhouse mirror.
That’s not always the easiest pill to swallow.
That’s my humble opinion, what do ya’ll think? Did Kev’s thirty minute relationship routine go too far?
Patia Braithwaite is a Brooklyn-based lady blogger and life coach. Her wellness and relationship articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Yahoo Shine, Clutch Magazine and Bounce Back.com. She has a personal development blog where she writes about relationships and spirituality. Check her out at: www.menmyselfandgod.com or check in with her on twitter @pdotbrathw8