Wednesday 17th June 2015
Reginald D. Hunter
at the De Montfort Hall
It’s always exciting when a well-known TV celebrity comes to Leicester to do a show. Prior to tonight I had seen Reginald D. Hunter on the television many times. He has appeared several times on programmes such as Have I Got News for You, Mock The Week, Live at the Apollo, 8 Out of 10 Cats, and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He is an artist who is readily recognisable with this deep, American Georgia accent and his now long dreadlocks.
Tonight Reginald did the whole show – from 8pm to 10pm with a twenty minute interval. He had no shortage of things to talk about.
The auditorium was pretty full for tonight’s show and people warmed to the American comedian – I suspect a lot of them had seen him before. His style was relaxed and conversational and from time to time he would chat with people in the front row. Reginald does not shy away from controversial topics: he is a master of drawing humour out of ticklish subjects and seeing the funny side of things that might make us uncomfortable. Through the night he kept the laughter coming. He often used a play on words and I have to say some his material was very clever. Much of his material was direct, often graphic and dealt with topics that many other stand-ups would prefer to avoid. But he did this in a way which was not primitively provocative but instead challenging and insightful.
Born in the USA, he now lives in the UK, coming here initially (at the age of 27) to be a student at RADA. Since then he has toured Britain extensively. His current tour is called The Man Who Attempted To Do As Much As Such. He ran a promo for it – a tour that takes in 45 shows.
He appeared at the Leicester comedy festival in 2000. I asked him if he remembered that; he just said “That’s blast from the past” adding “I remember not winning it.” Since then Reginald has been back in Leicester many times playing Jonglers, doing one-offs and shows at The De Montfort Hall. Reginald appeared at The Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2014. I asked him how this Australian festival compares with the one we have here in Leicester. He told me “There’s no comparison. They are completely different animals. Leicester is much bigger.” he explained that a comedian is not in a country for very long and this might not be enough time to pick up on local things that people find funny at that time.
Tonight Reginald talked about his experiences filming with the BBC, including the time when they wanted him to sit with an eagle on this arm. he also talked about the filming he did for the BBC. Recently, Reginald travelled back to his birthplace in America to film Songs Of The South, which first aired in March 2015. The three-part BBC2 series documenting Reginald’s epic road trip from North Carolina to New Orleans through 150 years of American popular song. He explores the rich musical heritage of Georgia and, as the programme’s blurb says ‘A beautiful, original and hot evocation of the cradle of American music.’
After spending a couple of hours listening to this guy, you can’t help but like him. You can’t help but respect him – he is funny but he also has a depth to his work, his material; an impressive intellect drives that humour and he delivers it in a way that most people can relate to. He doesn’t preach about race; he just talks about his own experience of it and that of his friends and people he has met. He does that in a way that makes you feel comfortable but not too comfortable. He can make you laugh but he can make you think. Reginald is a man that does his own thing. That is the quality of a truly remarkable comedian.