Originality in Comedians

What is Original?

Nothing is original. For a work to have meaning, it must use language – it must “make sense.” It needs to work with memes already living in the host mind: language, images, melodies, patterns. It can’t be wholly original. It can hardly be original at all. With that in mind let’s look at the comedian Kevin Hart, who has had a very big influence on me as a person and let’s see who he might have been influenced by. (ninapaley, 2009)

Kevin Hart


One of my favourite comedians is Kevin Hart, he is an American actor, comedian, writer and producer. July 6, 1979 (age 36). He is well known for his four stand-up comedy specials; starting in 2009 with “I’m a Grown Little Man,” followed by “Seriously Funny” in 2010, “Laugh at My Pain” in 2011 and his latest special “Let Me Explain” in 2013.

The reason I like Kevin Harts comedy specials so much is his comedic style, which is usually based upon him delving into his own insecurities and life experiences. Which I respect a lot because his view on life is “Because of what I do, it has to be an open book,” Also the fact that Kevin Hart is able to make something humorous from an unfortunate circumstance, really makes me look at life in a more positive tone and allows me to add some humour into my own personal experiences I have. I’ve always thought of Kevin Hart as pretty original, but what I have come to discover is that his jokes might be original but the topics and situations in which his jokes are about tend to be the same with a lot of other comedians.


Now I don’t know what it’s like to be a stand-up comedian and I don’t know what it’s like to spend years and years to just develop one stand-up show. But what I do know is that Kevin Hart always mentions other comedians who have influenced him and have helped him in his comedy routines. Some comedians that he has mentioned are Richard Pyror, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Martin Lawrence, Wanda Sykes, Bill Cosby, Bernie Mack, D.L. Hughley, Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer. Out of these comedians Kevin hart has said that Eddie Murphy and Ricard Pyror have had the biggest influence on him.

Eddie Murphy

Eddie murphy g

Eddie Murphy was born April 3, 1961 (age 54). He has had a massive influence on Kevin hart with Hart saying at one point “Eddie Murphy is an inspiration and a mentor and a friend as well. Because Eddie Murphy set the bar and proved that doing stand-up comedy can be cool, you know, and sexy, and almost rock ‘n’ roll-ish. You know. It doesn’t have to be something that’s clowned upon. Eddie Murphy did arenas when it was unheard of.”


Eddie Murphy has released two stand-up specials the first was “Delirious” in 1982 and “Raw” in 1987, due to the success of “Delirious,” “Raw” received a theatrical release grossing in $50 million. Murphy’s stand-up comedy style consisted of frequent swearing and sketches that lampooned a diverse group of people ranging from people who were White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) to African American, Italian Americans, overweight people and gay people. Which is very similar to what we see in Kevin Hart’s routines.

Richard Pryor

Richard pryor g

Richard Pryor was born in December 1, 1940 and died at the age of 65 on December 10, 2005. Both Kevin Hart and Eddie Murphy have stated that Richard Pryor has had a massive influence on them. He is currently listed at Number 1 on Comedy Central’s list of all-time greatest stand-up comedians. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of all time. Pryor was known for covering topics of racism and topical contemporary issues of his time, he would employ the use of using vulgarities and profanity, as well as racial slurs. He is has reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style. Both Eddie Murphy and Kevin Hart use a lot of profanity and they both talk about the issues of their time in their stand-up bits. They also both have a very good story telling process like Pryor.


Click here to see Eddie Murphy do a Richard Pryor impersonation

Click here to hear Kevin Hart honour Richard Pryor


I think the big idea to take from this is that even though comedians seem original, because their material is usually based around their experiences they encounter around their time, most of them tend to deliver their material in a somewhat similar style. So even though we aren’t directly hearing the same jokes from all these different comedians, because they will usually all act differently in any given situation, as an individual, we tend to notice patterns in their routines. Whether it be by their story telling process, their use of profanity or their lampooning of different groups in society. Comedians all tend to have other comedians who have influenced them and the combinations of all their influences is what is reflected in their performances and results in their success.



Nina Paley. (2009). The Cult of Originality. Retrieved from http://blog.ninapaley.com/2009/12/28/the-cult-of-originality/

Kevin Hart. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Hart

Sean L. McCarthy. (2013). 5 Comedians Who Inspired Kevin Hart. Retrieved from  http://thecomicscomic.com/2013/01/16/5-comedians-who-inspired-kevin-hart/

Keith Murphy. (2014). Kevin Hart Names the Comedians Who Influenced Him Most. Retrieved From http://www.vibe.com/2014/02/black-history-month-kevin-hart-names-comedians-who-influenced-him-most/

Eddie Murphy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Murphy

Richard Pryor. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pryor


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s