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I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons

I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons

4.8 10
by Kevin Hart, Neil Strauss (With)

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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: the, a, for, above, and even even. Put them together and you have the funniest, most heartfelt, and most inspirational



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: the, a, for, above, 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.

The question you’re probably asking yourself right now is: What does Kevin Hart have that a book also has?

According to the three people who have seen Kevin Hart and a book in the same room, the answer is clear:

A book is compact. Kevin Hart is compact.

A book has a spine that holds it together. Kevin Hart has a spine that holds him together.

A book has a beginning. Kevin Hart’s life uniquely qualifies him to write this book by also having a beginning.

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 today, 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?”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 06/12/2017
Comedian Hart tells all in this emotion-filled memoir full of grit and humor. Writing with Rolling Stone contributor Strauss (The Game), Hart describes growing up in North Philadelphia in the 1980s and '90s with a cocaine-addict father and a caring, determined mother. Like Hart's standup, the book's tone is self-deprecating and honest: "My life began with one of the biggest lies men tell women," he writes. "I'll pull out, I promise." He writes that he inherited his mom's " commitment to hard work and my father's unique sense of humor," as well as the ability to accept reality and move on in life. His father ended up in prison and his older brother began dealing drugs; meanwhile, his mother encouraged him to finish community college but without success. Eventually Hart landed a job as a sneaker salesman in an athletic store. He was outgoing and a jokester, and eventually his coworkers encouraged him to audition at a local comedy club; it was then that he found his calling, noting the crowds' laughs "were almost as good as sex" and very addictive. His relentless drive and firm commitment to his art as a funnyman propelled his career from a stint on the Def Comedy Jam tour to a series of stand-up gigs in New York and eventually Hollywood. Inspiring and thoroughly entertaining, Hart's memoir brings his readers into his hilarious universe of stories and philosophy. (June 6)
Elle Magazine
"Hilarious but also heartfelt."
Kirkus Reviews
The popular comedian debuts with "the stories behind the jokes, and a few lessons…about life, success, parenting, and relationships."In his first book, Hart spares little detail about his personal and profession life. He chronicles his childhood with an absent father and protective mother, his toxic first marriage, and his rise to fame, punctuating each section with a lesson. Growing up in Philadelphia, the author wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. He watched his brother get kicked out of the house for selling drugs and being violent with his mother, experiences that reverberated through his teen years. His mother worked hard to give her children a decent life, and she kept Hart busy with after-school activities to make sure he was never alone to get into trouble like his brother. He assumed his mother's work ethic and diligence, and when he found stand-up comedy, it consumed him. Unfortunately, while he was pursuing his dream, shuttling between Philadelphia and New York, his relationship with Torrei, his first love and first wife, suffered. Comedy nerds will love the details about the author's climb up the ladder, and the sections on his adopted family at the Comedy Cellar and his relationship with fellow comedian Keith Robinson give great insight into the life of a comic who is constantly working to get better. There are some nasty personal details about Hart's relationship with Torrei and how, according to him, it became mutually abusive, ever more so with the pressure of an advancing career and children. Some of the author's lessons border on platitudes—e.g., believe in yourself, shrug off the bad stuff and move forward—and the tales about how he learned these things sometimes render the breakdowns at the ends of the sections unnecessary. But Hart is an incredibly magnetic storyteller, on the page as he is onstage, and that's what shines through here. The book could have been trimmed by about 50 pages, but Hart is a genial, entertaining guide to a life in comedy.

Product Details

Atria / 37 INK
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

I Can’t Make This Up


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.

Meet the Author

Kevin Hart is an award-winning actor and comedian. His films, including Central Intelligence, Think Like a Man, Get Hard, Ride Along, The Wedding Ringer, and The Secret Life of Pets have earned over $3.5 billion at the box office. His stand-up comedy tours, including Let Me Explain, Laugh at My Pain, and What Now?, have sold out arenas and football stadiums, leading Forbes to name him the “king of comedy.” He is also the first comedian with a Nike sneaker line; a television producer, creating the BET show Real Husbands of Hollywood and the Laugh Out Loud Network; and CEO of Hartbeat Productions. Hart currently lives in Los Angeles with his family.

Neil Strauss is an award-winning Rolling Stone editor, New York Times columnist, and writer/cowriter of eight New York Times bestselling books including The Game and The Truth.

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I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I didn't know what to expect when I bought this book. I just wanted to support Kevin Hart, because I'm also from Philly. To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. I LOVED this book. I feel so INSPIRED to do more with my life. Thank you Kevin Hart!!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Within the space of four days I read and I heard in the audio book some of the most hilarious and insightful stories ever put down on paper.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Oh my God, I am so mad. If anybody ever tries to write a book about their life ever again, they need to read this book first. I was expecting this book to be funny. I didn't realize that it would also make me think. To be the man that he is, given where he came from Kevin Hart has not only earned my respect but by undying admiration. My only advice is that you don't read this book at night while your spouse is trying to sleep. It is laugh out loud funny. I love that he gives so much credit to the people that helped him along the way. If you love his stand up and his movies, I am highly recommending this one. The only book that ever had me laughing like this one did was a book called Stories I Wouldn't Tell Nobody But God, that I found it here on Barnes and Noble in paperback. I haven't read any book as good since, except the sequel to Stories I Wouldn't Tell Nobody But God. It is called Cold Summer Afternoon. Buy it! Borrow it! Read it!
Anonymous 24 days ago
Now that is what I call getting to know the character in this book.
Anonymous 12 days ago
Kevin Hart is a great comedian and love his work, so I bought his book. Reading his book was like I was listening to a friend recount his life. Great book!
JesseSMonica 4 months ago
Kevin Harts "I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons" is such an entertaining story. I laughed myself to sleep every night since last Tuesday. Hart is such an amazing vivid storyteller..... no spoilers but after a certain chapter with his mother, the next morning I woke up, got on the phone and called my mom to tell her Kevin's story she loved it. I already got another copy to mail to my dad for father's day. I read alotta memoirs and only a few have I started re-reading after I finished the whole thing. Also, this isn't just a line-line-punchline book that a lot of comedians write... you know, the just rehashing jokes they have done for years. Not this book---it's so so much more. It's well-written, heartfelt, reflective, and overall a fun story of a guy who found an art he loved, friends he trusted, and an unrivaled drive to make his fans happy. He shares his mistakes and vulnerabilities throughout his career so far but does it in a way that's genuine, and funny. I mean really funny! And the advice at the end of the book is worth re-reading often. Bravo. Two thumbs up. Get this book.
Anonymous 6 days ago
Very well written and fast paced book. Congratulations Kevin Hart for teaching us and entertaining is all at the same time.
Anonymous 8 days ago
There is more that makes up Kevin Hart than I ever imagined. It was inspirational, educational, and of course, funny.
Anonymous 10 days ago
I have always loved Kevin Hart but after reading this book, I'm also in love with him.
Anonymous 4 months ago
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