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Kevin Hart's Zero F**ks Given displays his neediness in a deliberate, painstaking and masterful way

  • In his new Netflix special, filmed inside his own home with coronavirus precautions, Hart does not directly address the "elephant in the (living) room" -- the controversy from two years ago over his old homophobic jokes that led him to quit as Oscars host, says Kathryn VanArendonk. But that controversy appears to weigh heavily on him in Zero F**ks Given, showcasing his growth. The special, says VanArendonk, is "an elaborate, desperate display of neediness. For exactly the same reason that Hart can pull off a COVID-era comedy show in his own home and turn it into a Netflix special, he’s also the kind of celebrity who doesn’t have to do any of this. As he explains at the start, he and his family caught COVID months ago, but his potential immunity doesn’t make any of this cheaper or easier. His career will not tank if he takes a year off, and he’s achieved a level of fame and financial success that means he could easily have set aside stand-up — heck, he could’ve set aside everything — for as long as he wanted. And yet, here he is, standing in front of a fireplace and doing an hour of comedy for a small crowd, because something in him needs this. Hart knows exactly how this all comes off: as a combination of anxiety and arrogance. He’s obsessed by it, worried about it, at once proud of what he’s accomplished and embarrassed by how much he wants everyone to think he’s great. He wants approval and wishes he didn’t want it so badly. He’s frustrated and confused about what it means to be a celebrity now, but he’s not blaming the audience — he’s just not exactly sure how this relationship works now. If this was all unconscious, the bragginess and the neediness on display in Zero F**ks Given could be wildly annoying. Instead, Hart makes those things the deliberate centerpiece, telling joke after joke about his weaknesses, his misapprehensions, the things he’s proud of, and how awkward it is to navigate between boasting and wanting to be loved. This is not a special where a comedian stumbles past their neuroses, hoping no one notices. This is Hart taking those neuroses out one by one and putting them on a stage in his own living room for the world to examine. It’s deliberate, painstaking, and masterful." ALSO: No F**ks Given doesn’t offer much grist for Hart's critics — or his champions.

    TOPICS: Kevin Hart: Zero F**ks Given