Kevin Hart Visits UMD, Promotes “The Wedding Ringer”

The panel discussion following the screening of "The Wedding Ringer." Photo by Alex Theriot

The panel discussion following the screening of “The Wedding Ringer.” Photo by Alex Theriot

By Alex Theriot

University of Maryland students got a double dose of Kevin Hart on Nov. 1 when the comedian and actor treated the campus community to an advanced screening of his upcoming movie and performed stand-up comedy at Cole Field House.

With a line that stretched past the Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, students began lining up at 5 p.m. for the Saturday evening show, which was not scheduled to start until 8 p.m.

The university-exclusive event, sponsored by Student Entertainment Events, began by showing the trailer of Hart’s latest project, “The Wedding Ringer,” co-starring Josh Gad, who was also present for the show.

Joey Wells, a Fresno, Ca. native and a member of Hart’s comedy crew, The Plastic Cup Boyz, opened the comedy show by making students laugh with jokes about Maryland weather and the changes college freshmen face. Wells was followed by fellow Plastic Cup Boyz crewmember Will “Spank” Horton, whose content covered everything from cheating to life as a child growing up in Philadelphia.

Later, Hart came to the stage to deliver new material exclusively meant for his college tour. Hart drew from personal life experiences to continually keep his audience laughing for the hour he was on stage.

Hart closed the show by taking a selfie with the audience and opening act performers.

Hart’s performance was nothing short of absolute hilarity, leaving many students wishing for more.

“I thought Kevin Hart was hilarious. By the end of the show my stomach hurt,” said Azsanee Truss, a junior information systems major. “I also really liked the first act, but the second one made some sexist jokes that turned me off. But overall it was a great time.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Hart and Gad held a preview of “The Wedding Ringer” in the Hoff Theater at Stamp Student Union, followed by a panel discussion with the actors themselves.

The movie stars Gad as Doug Harris, a seemingly put-together husband-to-be who happens to lack a wedding party. Doug enlists the help of Jimmy Callahan (Hart), an entrepreneur specializing in providing best man services to desperate, friendless grooms with a no-strings-attached friendship policy. With less than two weeks until the wedding, Doug, Jimmy and a band of misfit groomsman embark on a crazy mission to pull off the first-ever Golden Tux, an elaborate scheme of epic proportions that ultimately inspires several revelations.

“The script was around for years, they just didn’t have the right combination, they just didn’t have the right pairing,” Hart said when asked about the inspiration behind the film in the panel-style Q-and-A session. “So myself and Josh made studios jump and they decided to make the film and in return, made a great movie together that we saw on paper and really felt that we could bring a lot of life to it.”

Gad responded to a student fan about his reasoning for choosing to play his respective role.

“For me, the reason that I jumped at the script was, one, I thought it was so [expletive] funny but it was also so grounding it actually, you know, it really pulls at the heartstrings, which I was amazed by because it doesn’t come off as schmaltzy, it comes off as kind of real, something that you can relate to,” he said.

In a press briefing before the preview, the comedic duo answered questions asking if they could relate to their on-screen characters.

“I can identify with my guy, my guy was so wrapped up into his business that he doesn’t take time to really evaluate himself or his life at times,” Hart said. “Everything around [you] is controlling who you are for a certain point, and when you sit down and finally look at everything, you go ‘Wow, I really need to focus on me,’ and I think that’s what my guy in this movie does at one moment.”

Prior to his visit at this university, Hart made stops along the East Coast to promote his new movie and film his comedy show for his latest documentary.

“[He’s] probably the funniest comedian of our generation,” junior accounting major Ammar Qureshi said about the 35-year-old Philadelphia native after the show.

Soon after the show, Hart traveled to his next stop, Syracuse University, and he will continue to travel to colleges around the nation for the remainder of his tour.

Involving fiery family brunches, an everything-gone-wrong bachelor party and one eventful wedding reception, “The Wedding Ringer” hits theaters Jan. 16, 2015.

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