Reginald D Hunter

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

In comedy, the sometimes cataclysmic rift between the races usually boils down to some hack telling us that black people dance one way, white people dance another.

Reginald D Hunter is nothing like that. In fact, he says, "if you hear a comic talking about that, then you have my permission to call him a nigger".

After all, it's a vast and significant cultural and social topic. Rife, you would have thought, for some serious analysis - and that's exactly what this charismatic comic from Georgia provides. And some damn good gags along the way.

His standpoint is to analyse the ubiquitous image of the white woman, looking at his own prejudices - and that which others have towards him as a large black guy - which get in the way of seeing the real person.

It's intelligent stuff, well argued, though ultimately reaching no conclusion. Mind you, it's possibly too much to ask for a resolution for generations of hatred, misunderstanding and prejudice from an hour's worth of comedy.

Hunter's seductive presence certainly helps sway the argument, too. He has a powerful voice, but quietly spoken, the passion always raging just below the surface. The fact he fits the image of cool helps, too.

It's a mesmerising delivery; he could go for minutes on end without telling a gag and still have the audience eating from the palm of his hand. Luckily, he's not so self-indulgent, and plenty of laughs emerge as the argument unfolds.

Along the way, he takes in the power of the N-word, how his views of white women were formed from the media - and the rejection of his childhood advances - and the Birth Of A Nation-type portrayal as blacks as a race of frothing savages, hell-bent on raping white women.

He's brave enough to confess to his own prejudices and hypocrisy, too - and admit that other people's first thoughts can work in his favour, getting him laid and ensuring few people mess with him. Liberals who pretend that skin colour is irrelevant also find themselves at the sharp end of his searing criticism.

Trying to get an audience member to admit to her prejudices is only partially successful, possibly because she isn't as honest as she could be - not that Hunter pushes that point. But you can see how that, with the right woman, this could add an extra frisson to the already spellbinding proceedings.

So many comics squander the chance an hour-long Fringe show offers - perhaps suggesting they have less to say than they would like think - but Hunter uses his time wisely and effectively.

At one point, he recounts a heckler who demanded: "What are you? A philosopher or a comic?" Truth is, he's a bit of both, and more power to his elbow.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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