Reginald D Hunter
Not just a race comic, he insists
One of the prime misconceptions about Reginald D Hunter is that all he does is talk about race and racism. Sure, he may have had the word ‘Nigga’ in several of his show titles, but within a Hunter show will be a plethora of topics and areas touching on his perceptions about life as we know it. ‘Sometimes a thing just needs to be said,’ he says. ‘At some point someone on the Titanic had to step up and say, “The boat is sinking”. And I don’t really want to be that person. I’d like to do sillier stuff and not talk about race on stage, but someone has to. I’m not interested in condemning racism on stage anymore because grandstanding about how wrong it is doesn’t solve anything, it just hides it better. Because I’ve said things about racism, people want to identify you as the race comic which is extraordinarily lazy and I don’t feel any inclination to reward that thinking.’
Having left the US to become an actor in Britain before stumbling into an eventually fulfilling career in comedy, he recently dipped his toe in the past by heading home to do some gigs in the States, an experience that he describes as ‘pleasurable, strange, bewildering, painful, embarrassing, reinvigorating’. Curiously, in the States some people viewed him as ‘too British’, mainly in the tough rooms that don’t show up in any listings magazines. Suffice to say, his first few gigs didn’t go down especially well. ‘There was a bafflement. The heckling I got, mostly from black people, if you look beneath the surface of it, was essentially saying, “What are you?” And no one’s really interested in your development, they’re just interested in you as a finished product. “Fuck where you were last night, I need you to be stupendous now!” Or they were giving me shit because of my shoes. I had forgotten that part of my background, this Def Comedy Jam need to insult somebody because of their hair or their shirt. The audience want you to slam him, because they’ve paid to see someone be humiliated.’
Perth Theatre, Mon 3 Oct; Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 5 Oct; Edinburgh Playhouse, Tue 18 Oct.