Udderbelly’s Pasture (venue details)
16 – 30 Aug, 10:00pm (11:00pm)
Reginald D Hunter is in danger of becoming a comedy icon: famous for his panel show appearances, as well as his sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Festival, it is fascinating to see what sort of crowds he attracts. There are clearly people present who have only ever seen him on TV. These are the ones who look the most baffled, the ones who shift uncomfortably in their seats as Hunter launches into the material he is famous for on the circuit: dark, philosophical musings on existence, and strange stories from his chequered past.
Hunter meanders back and forth along the front of the stage, not saying an awful lot, rambling about his recent issues, and, seemingly, what runs across his mind at the time. This is all told with a big grin, and normally a sly wink here and there, and the charm he exudes is what makes his comedy so watchable. Hunter is not a laugh-a-minute comedian, but he does have a certain verve, creating a sense of excited anticipation for what’s going to come next. This is calm, composed, and mature comedy… or, at least, the performance is.
The material is a little difficult to laugh at, at first. Hunter expostulates on race, homosexuality, relationships and life with cutting directness, not trying to hide behind political correctness or politeness to deliver his thoughts on any given subject. This may sound like he is a callous and rude comedian: nothing could be further from the truth. Hunter may not mask his thoughts, but he is still intensely respectful of his audience, and clearly wants to draw them into his confidence. The audience feel respected when difficult material comes up, despite the fact that Hunter’s views may not match our own. The way he balances the resulting tension is a magical skill.
Hunter’s TV appearances have not softened his style, but have left people confused as to his comedy identity. This dichotomy was palpable during the show, and will continue to be a problem for Hunter in the future. If you like Hunter and are prepared for his brand of stand-up, absolutely come see him. If not, think carefully whether this is for you.
I’d recommend giving it a shot, but also being ready for some of the things Hunter might say! He might make you laugh, or he might make you offended; and, in truth, he’ll probably do both. You have been warned.