When you walk into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on the opening night of ESSENCE Fest 2015 prepared to laugh at Kevin Hart’s pain, there are several big black signs scattered around the arena with very specific instructions:
“FOR KEVIN HART SHOW, NO: Cell phones, texting, tweeting, talking, cameras, recording devices of any kind DURING THE SHOW OR YOU WILL BE EJECTED.”
They’re literally everywhere, part of a preemptive strike against the leaking of a spanking-new set of Hart stand-up jokes (they’re sharp, too). The no-cell-phone policy is alluded to several times by Joey Wells, a member of Hart’s Plastic Cup Boyz, who quips that security will not-so-kindly re-introduce violators to the parking lot without warning.
It’s a seriously funny portion of Wells’ opening act until you see it play out in real life. He jokes that no one on the What Now? tour wants to be responsible for breaking up a happy relationship because a spectator insists on taking a selfie (the hypothetical girlfriend stays to watch the show after her man is tossed).
Then, right on cue, a tall man in the floor seats five chairs down from me is surrounded by security guards in yellow shirts. He’s quickly escorted out, presumably for removing his phone from his pocket. As he squeezed through the row in probably his longest walk ever, the woman with whom he was seated nervously laughed it off. It’s likely she was thinking: What now?
Want an early peek at Kevin Hart’s hilarious new set? Check out the monologue from his January appearance on Saturday Night Live.