Kevin Hart has experienced a monumental rise to the upper echelon of stand-up comedy over the last couple of years. Riding the success of his 2013 theatrically released stand-up special, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, alongside Hart’s tireless work ethic and massive social media following, Hart exploded onto the screen with a whopping five film releases in 2014, including the surprise break-out hit Ride Along and the critically lauded Chris Rock vehicle Top Five. Hart’s drive and hustle have led the comedian not only to leading man status, but also to the top of the touring charts as his latest “What Now?” tour, scheduled to kick off in April, has already sold more than 600,000 tickets, grossing $35 million to date, according to Billboard‘s Ray Waddell.
Hart’s last tour saw the comedian make the leap from theaters to arenas, including two sold out shows at what many claim to be as the most popular live event arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, an arena of such magnitude that only a handful of comedians ever have managed to fill it. Hart’s “What Now?” tour has already seen a repeat of the Garden’s two-show sell out, but will also see Hart make a leap grander than that which any stand-up comedian before him can boast, as Hart will conclude the tour at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, making Hart the first comedian to headline a stadium.
Live Nation president Geof Wills was quoted by Waddell as to the size and stature of the tour.
“The tour is truly remarkable. Hart wants to do the films, the specials and the concerts. Kevin is really going for it all.”
Hart’s earning power as a headlining comic drew criticism last week as details emerged regarding Hart’s fee for performing at Florida Gulf Coast University, a public university within the State University System of Florida. According to Jason Cook at News-Press, Hart was guaranteed a flat $150,000 performance fee, as well as 70 percent of of ticket proceeds should such proceeds exceed $75,000. All told, Hart earned nearly $350,000 for the performance, which meant that at 2,500 student tickets, made available at $35 each, and 6,000 tickets, made available to the public at $65 a piece, the school took a loss on the event, with the balance paid for by student activity and service fees. Although the university did not stand to make any money from Hart’s appearance, FGCU student body treasurer Michael Danis cited student feedback and willingness to pay a premium to attract top tier entertainment acts to campus as reason enough for the expenditure.
“It’s worth all the money.”