I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons

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Superstar comedian and Hollywood box office star Kevin Hart turns his immense talent to the written word by writing some words. Some of those words include: theaforabove, and even even. Put them together and you have the funniest, most heartfelt, and most inspirational memoir on survival, success, and the importance of believing in yourself since Old Yeller.

It begins in North Philadelphia. He was born an accident, unwanted by his parents. His father was a drug addict who was in and out of jail. His brother was a crack dealer and petty thief. And his mother was overwhelmingly strict, beating him with belts, frying pans, and his own toys. The odds, in short, were stacked against our young hero, just like the odds that are stacked against the release of a new book in this era of social media (where Hart has a following of over 100 million, by the way). But Kevin Hart, like Ernest Hemingway, JK Rowling, and Chocolate Droppa before him, was able to defy the odds and turn it around. In his literary debut, he takes the reader on a journey through what his life was, what it is now, and how he’s overcome each challenge to become the man he is today.

And that man happens to be the biggest comedian in the world, with tours that sell out football stadiums and films that have collectively grossed over $3.5 billion. He achieved this not just through hard work, determination, and talent: It was through his unique way of looking at the world.

Because just like a book has chapters, Hart sees life as a collection of chapters that each person gets to write for himself or herself. “Not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter,” he says. “So why not choose the interpretation that serves your life the best?”

Candid, wickedly funny, and unforgettable, I Can’t Make This Up is more than a memoir. It is a training manual designed to teach you a positive, drama-free outlook on life and code of conduct that will serve you, serve others, and serve your biggest, boldest dreams.


MANDATORY INTRODUCTION

 

 

This introduction is mandatory. That means you have to read it. You can’t just skip ahead to the sex scenes. Because in order to get the most out of this book, there are three important words you’re going to need to know and understand. The first word is: “Huh?” It’s pronounced short and sharp, as if someone just hit you in the stomach. Typically, it’s spoken while pulling your neck back, raising your eyebrows, and quickly scanning the room to make sure everything looks normal and you’re not in some weird-ass dream. The dictionary definition of the word is: “Did you just say what I think you said? Because it literally makes no sense and my mind can’t process it right now, so I’m going to have to ask you to repeat it.” It’s the kind of thing you might say when your dad comes home bleeding and tells you that someone hacked him up with an axe. (This really happened, people. I can’t make this up.) The second word is: “What?” This is pronounced with a silent “t,” and it generally follows a few seconds after a Huh.

It’s spoken with your mouth contorted into a look of disgust and your forehead creased, while looking at someone like they’re batshit crazy. It is short for: “What the hell did you just say? Because I only asked you to repeat the crazy shit you just said, and now you’re adding some even crazier shit on top of it. My ears can’t believe what they’re hearing right now.” It’s the kind of thing you might say when your dad, whose head is busted open and wrapped in a blood-soaked towel, assures you that he’s fine and doesn’t need to go to the hospital and just wants to lie down for a little bit. The third word is: “Okay.” It’s spoken with a shoulder shrug, a side-to-side shake of the head, and a roll of the eyes. It means: “I can’t even begin to fathom your reality, but I’ve decided to just accept it and move on.”

It’s what you say when a Huh and a What have gotten you nowhere, and you’re starting to think that maybe you actually are stuck in a dream and shouldn’t eat pizza before bedtime anymore. Like when your dad tells you that the reason someone hacked him up with an axe was because he was jealous of his skills as a refrigerator repairman. This all may seem unbelievable to anyone who hasn’t met my father, but this is the honest-to-God truth. In life, you can choose to cry about the bullshit that happens to you or you can choose to laugh about it. I chose laughter. These are the stories behind the jokes, and a few lessons I’ve figured out about life, success, family, and relationships along the way. Actually, I’m still working on the relationships part, but the rest I got down.


Chapter 1

 

BIRTH OF A SEX SYMBOL

My life began with one of the biggest lies men tell women: “I’ll pull out, I promise.” Those were the words that turned into me. Of course, my dad had no intention of pulling out. He wasn’t planning on knocking up my mom either. He just never learns from his mistakes. The first mistake happened eight years earlier. His name was Robert Kenneth, my older brother. Our parents had just met back then, so Dad was able to get away with bigger lies: “My nuts done got squashed in a bike accident. I can’t do nothing with them.” That’s really what he told her. I can’t make this up. When my mother found out she was pregnant, she beat the hell out of my dad. His other lines were: “I’m just gonna put it in a little and leave it there. I just wanna be close to you.” And then there was the classic, “I’m just gonna rub you with it. I promise I won’t put it in.” I’m surprised there are just two of us. Though if you count all the other women he did this with, there are something like eleven of us with six different women. At least one of them is my age too. He definitely didn’t learn from his mistakes. My mom and dad met when he was working for Bell Telephone and she was a cashier at a Shop N Bag grocery store next door. From the moment he laid eyes on her—“a fine, petite country girl with big hips,” as he put it—my dad started begging her to go on a date. This went on every day for a year. My dad wasn’t persistent because he was in love with her. He was a player. He probably had thirty women all over town he was using the same lines on. My mom just held out longer. As my dad always tells me, even though I definitely don’t need to hear it, he had to “con her out of her drawers” because she’d never had sex before.

They never married, though they stuck it out together, probably because Kenneth was born a year after they started seeing each other. But they were like oil and water: My mom was bossy; my dad hated being told what to do. My mom didn’t party; my dad did. My mom didn’t believe in fighting; my dad believed fighting made you a man. My mom couldn’t stand the smell of cigarettes, weed, or alcohol; my dad stank of all three. My mom believed that sex was a sacred thing; my dad didn’t believe anything was sacred, especially sex. When Mom found out she was pregnant with me, my father was picking up Kenneth from school. “Spoon,” my mom’s sister Patsy yelled from inside the house when my father and Kenneth came home. My dad’s full name is Henry Witherspoon, but everyone called him Spoon, and my brother was nicknamed Little Spoon. “Yes, ma’am.” “Come here.” My father walked up the steps. Aunt Patsy didn’t budge. “Get in here!” That’s when my father knew he was in trouble. “What did you do?” she asked as soon as he walked inside. “What you talkin—” “Nancy is pregnant, and she crying.” “Naw, Nance ain’t pregnant!” “Go tell her that. She waiting on you.” My dad hung his head and accepted his fate.

He walked apologetically into the bedroom, and got cussed out royally. Usually, he could say “I love you” to calm her down. Whether he meant it or just used it as a strategy to appease her, no one knew. But this time, it didn’t do him any good, and he went to sleep that night with her still going off on him, saying how this pregnancy was going to destroy her life. She’d just gone back to school and completed a computer programming class, so she was focused on a fresh start, not fresh diapers. When my dad woke up the day after finding out I was on the way, Mom wouldn’t speak to him. She didn’t say another word to him for the next three weeks. And that’s how I came into this world: My life began as a lie. I was unwanted. My mother cried when she found out I existed. And I sat there stewing in her anger for months in the womb. At least, that’s one way to look at it. Here’s another way.

My life began with passion, with my father’s unrelenting desire for my mother. Even though I was unplanned, my mother made the commitment to having me and raising me right. And I inherited her commitment to hard work, and my father’s unique sense of humor, bottomless optimism, and ability to get his way. Life is a story. It’s full of chapters. And the beauty of life is that not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter. It determines whether it’s comedy or tragedy, fairy tale or horror story, rags-to-riches or riches-to-rags. You can’t control the events that happen to you, but you can control your interpretation of them. So why not choose the story that serves your life the best?

 

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Kevin Hart