Anna Hadley reviews Reginald D Hunter:An American Facing the Beast and N****s at the Edinburgh Fringe
Twenty years later, and Reginald D. Hunter is now an old hand at the Fringe. Although some of the jokes seem a little tired, for the most part he’s still got it.
Hunter professes that he is not interested in the politicisation of language. By that, he sets himself against ‘PC Culture’, often vehemently defended at the fringe, and claims he will never give up words such as ‘poofter’ or ‘faggot.’
However, his more controversial jokes fall flat, suggesting that his conviction against PC language is stronger his actual desire to deliver the joke. There’s a rape joke in this set which receives very few laughs. Although a rape joke in a male comedian’s set is often the final, petering flame of desperation before the act is snuffed out from better judgement – This joke splutters out because the set-up is weak.
Nevertheless, even it goes against my own PC instincts to admit this, Reginald D. Hunter is still funny. If he resists the politicisation of language, this show is still political. He highlights the exploitation of him as a black man by white organisers of television or festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe, and his sketches about the BBC are hilarious.
At times, this show is a bundle of contradictions. It is sometimes difficult to remember that comedians can be just as equally complex as the rest of us. He addresses his difficult relationship with his estranged daughter and deceased mother, and balances his show between light and dark.
Reginald D. Hunter’s set-up and delivery is almost flawless (although there are a few exceptions). His is a story-telling delivery, which is not to everyone’s taste. Cymbals do not crash when he delivers his punchline, but it makes his sketches subtle and all the more sophisticated for it. Of course, I need to talk about Reginald D. Hunter’s voice. Perhaps it is a stereotype that the British usually recoil at an American twang, but Reginald D. Hunter has the capability for a whisky advert. Maybe even one of those yogurt commercials, which usually require women to lie down on chaises and whisper seductively to the camera. Instead, it could be Reginald on that chaise.
Ultimately, I wonder why Reginald D. Hunter performs some of the crasser jokes. He doesn’t need to. Hunter is a Fringe Veteran that Edinburgh will welcome again and again.