Kevin Hart and Josh Gad on rejection, triumph and professional bro-outs

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Kevin Hart is a mega comedy household name, but the guy has been around forever. You name it, he’s done it. You might not know Josh Gad’s name as well, but here’s a hint—he was the voice of Olaf in the Disney phenom, “Frozen.”

Now these two have teamed up for a major motion picture, “The Wedding Ringer,” which opens Friday, January 16. Together, these two are a duo packed with fast-paced, witty banter and comedic genius. But off screen, Hart and Gad are just two regular guys who’ve hustled their way to the top, as they discussed with College Times.

College Times: You guys had great on-screen chemistry. Did you guys do anything off screen to nurture that?

Gad: We have amazing on-screen chemistry I think because off screen, we like each other so much. Kevin and I first met, like early on in the process, he made me drive out to Encino to meet him, which is about a two hour drive in traffic, and I was annoyed.

Hart: I don’t think that has anything to do with it

Gad: It’s completely accurate. And, it took me a while to forgive him, but he charmed me, and the two of us were like immediately like, ‘You know what? This could really work.’ And if you’re going to be co-stars in a film, you kind of want somebody that you’re going to laugh with all day. And, there was no shortage of laughter on the set.

Hart: You have long days—longer nights at times—so if you’re not around a person that has that personality or that you can hold a conversation with outside of the job that you’re doin’, it makes it tougher. I want to talk to a person, and that’s very rare in the business right now to find people who aren’t afraid be people.

Kevin, you once mentioned that in the past, someone from a stand-up audience threw a chicken wing at you and it hit you in the face. That’s so brutal! In an industry that’s ripe with rejection, how do you guys stay focused and maintain the motivation to persevere?

Gad: The lowest I’ve ever been was—I was three years out of Carnegie Mellon Drama and about $80,000 in debt, and I was not getting any work. I was really struggling, and I called up my mom one day, and I said to her, ‘I’m gonna give up on acting and I’m gonna go to law school.’ And, she started crying, and I couldn’t believe she was crying. Here’s this Jewish mother who I think is gonna, like, be thrilled that I’m actually going to be making something of myself and be responsible, and she said, ‘You spent 16 years dreaming of being an actor and only three years actually trying to be an actor, and I’m disappointed; I’m disappointed that you’re giving up so easily on that dream.’ And, it really kind of clarified everything for me. Top that, Kev.

Hart: I mean, when you talk about lows, I have some of the lowest of the lows, but I never once bitched-up about ‘em. I’ve never been shook. I’ve seen the worst. It’s not to say that I came up in complete poverty, but we didn’t have it all. This is what I was used to. So, there was no getting worse than that. So in comedy, the lumps that I took were just laughing moments to me. ‘Alright, I’ll be back. I’ll figure it out.’ It was never a question of doubting myself or ‘Is this gonna happen?’ I said, ‘Yo, the one thing I am is funny.’ There was never a blurry moment. At the end of the day, all of this can go away at the drop of a dime. So, I’m so appreciative of the people who support me, and the work that I’m getting, and I take every day as if it’s the last. I approach every day with such a winning attitude of, ‘I’m going to make it the best day ever.’ ‘Cuz you don’t know how long you gonna have this opportunity. You really don’t.

How difficult is it to do comedy?

Gad: I think when you love it as much as we do, it’s not difficult necessarily. How difficult is it to do comedy that works for everybody? That’s very difficult.

Hart: I don’t think it’s something that can be taught. I mean, I break it down very simply, you have it or you don’t; you have a funny bone or you don’t. You cannot teach funny.

Gad: Having said that, I would say that it would be incredibly hard for me—not having done it—to do stand-up. Like I think as a comedian, you can challenge yourself to do things that are more challenging, in terms of the outlet of comedy, which is why I always take my hat off to Kevin because going up on a stage and doing that form of comedy is, it’s gotta be difficult. It’s got to be something that you’re willing to fall flat on your face over, and over, and over, so I think that there are varying degrees in which it can be more challenging.

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