Pop Goes The News — Comedian and movie star Kevin Hart paid it forward Thursday in Montreal — in a big way.
Hart agreed to pick up all 10 projects he was pitched for his upcoming Laugh Out Loud video-on-demand network.
The pitch session was held as part of ComedyPRO at the Just For Laughs festival.
Ten content creators, chosen from hundreds who applied, were given two minutes to pitch their ideas directly to Hart.
The pitches included projects with names like Campus Law (from Montreal’s Moving Mind Studio), Co-anchor Confidential, Melting Pot, Mouthpiece, and Off Color. There was also a contemporary spin on The Dating Game.
Although he eventually promised to take them all, Hart seemed most impressed with Drew Miller’s Drunk Eats, Matt Kelly’s Inhuman Resources, and One Night Only from Jonas Diamond and Jeremy Diamond.
“Genius,” Hart said of the latter, which features cartoons using audio from comedians like Richard Pryor.
The Laugh Out Loud Network, a partnership with Lionsgate, is scheduled to launch next year.
Hart said he came up with the idea because he wants to help other creative people.
“I want to see so many people win. I want to see so many people achieve a high level of success,” he explained. “If I can help you get there, I feel that I’ve put an imprint on what I was supposed to do. I not only came, saw, conquered but I put other people in the position to do the same.”
Hart said he hopes Laugh Out Loud will be the go-to place online for comedy.
“If you go to YouTube and search ‘comedy’ you may run into a person shitting on a sidewalk, you may run into a cat being thrown off a roof. It’s so much shit,” he said. “There’s not one hub for multi-cultural comedy — and that was a problem for me. Why can’t there be one destination with all races, shapes, and sizes that everybody can relate to and they come to laugh?
“I represent universal laughter. Why can’t I create a network that stands true to what I represent, that gives those opportunities to content creators, this next generation of comedic actors or comedians or writers. That’s what this platform is about so I put my money where my mouth is.”
(Last year, Hart recalled “it all literally started here at his festival.” He said: “I’m able to do what I’m doing because you guys put me in position to win. Just For Laughs, I am a friend forever. I will always come back because I don’t forget.”)
Before listening to pitches, Hart talked about his success on social media. He currently has over 30 million followers on Twitter and nearly 40 million on Instagram as well as 23 million Facebook likes. He’s also active on Snapchat.
“When you’re at this level everybody assumes that you’re no longer a real individual. They assume that your day isn’t necessarily the same as theirs. So I like to show people what my day consists of,” Hart explained.
“I’m a dad first. The business comes second. So I like that people see me with my kids, see me loving my kids.”
The star of films like Get Hard, The Wedding Ringer and Ride Along said communicating so much with fans is good business.
“When it comes to engagement, I’m probably in the top three,” he said. “My relationship with my fanbase is important. That’s why I spend so much time on social media.”