It would be very hard not to like Reginald D Hunter unless you had a heart of stone. He’s an engaging mix of old-fashioned courtesy, vicious, biting observation, well-read intelligence and down-dirty motherfuckin filth-talk.
What’s not to like?
Reg riffs on issues of race, of sex and of course, stupidity — the only eternal human characteristic.
He says the word nigger a lot, or at least, he threatens to, but on this side of the Pond, it somehow loses its potency and you wonder why. Maybe it’s a combination of things. Perhaps it’s because that particular word didn’t gain traction in European countries, as it did in the United States, as a term of belittlement to black people. Perhaps it’s because we have different trigger-words over here, for different classes of people. After all, it’s not so long ago since Juden was such a word in some parts of our continent. Who knows?
Even today, there are some in this sainted isle — I’ve heard them myself, and so have you — who speak of niggers and Jews with contempt but they’re few enough and we have equal contempt for their ignorance.
Reg doesn’t care about this, because he’s coming from a place where racism isn’t casual or random, as it is here. Racism in his world isn’t the domain of the occasional bigot, but woven into the cloth of society. He speaks of a place where a cop-cruiser passing by can petrify time in a black neighbourhood, where the women lock solid as they push their baby buggies and the basketball-boys freeze in mid-dunk, suspended in the terrified air in case those soldiers of the government-sponsored Cop Gang decide to make an example of someone, pour encourageur les autres.
We understand where he’s coming from with this, and as the evening goes on, it’s good to see that most of us also understand his stance on sexism, of the anti-man variety.
For generations, perhaps even centuries, we believed comedy was about some fool on a stage telling sexist jokes, and in the end there was bound to be a backlash. We got that with the hard-hitting observational stand-up of the 90s and Zeroes, but comedy is a hard thing, carrying within itself this personal tragedy — no matter how hard-hitting and radical, comedy always eventually becomes the status quo. Even the radical cutting-edge comedy of the last twenty years is now the new orthodoxy in which men are exposed for the inadequate brutes they are.
Nope. Reg is having none of this shit. Reg tells how it is to be a man with all his faults, all his failings, weaknesses, foibles and peccadilloes. He’s not pandering to all those comedians who traded on the anti-man meme over the last two or three decades. I’m a man, Reg is saying. I got my faults. I fucked up. You don’t like me being a man, that’s fine. Just fuck off.
Every man in the audience loved his story of eavesdropping on the three 25-year-old girls.
I turned him down. Men love a challenge.
Excuse me? Sorry to interrupt, but where did you get that information from?
Where indeed? Possibly from the same fool who assured all women that men never talk about their feelings when they get together.
And so say all of us, except Reg makes it funny, because Reginald D Hunter is one funny motherfucker, who keeps his audience engaged with a stream-of-consciousness monologue that swings between the ridiculous, the scatological and the profoundly wise.
I had the pleasure of an afternoon in his company and I have to tell you, this fellow is an impressive individual. The conversation ranges back and forth, touching on many of the things that emerge later as comedy.
Bin Laden. How did Obama kill him? Did he catch him climbing through the White House window?
Rednecks and crackers. The difference between them.
Reginald D. Hunter is one of the cleverest, funniest guys you’ll hear on the circuit. Go and enjoy him before you can’t afford the tickets.
Reginald’s father is the permanent, unvarying reference-point for all his stories, the old guy who grounds his ideas in one or two or three nuggets of logic. For example, when Reg complains that Obama has done nothing for anyone despite all his campaign promises, the 94-year-old guy cuts right through the bullshit by asking one simple question. Who wants to get shot in the head?
We all shiver and move on.