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Reginald D Hunter: The Only Apple In The Garden Of Eden And Niggas - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Reginald D Hunter ends his show with an apology. ‘I’ve been working though some stuff up here,’ he says. ‘And you might have heard some of this before.’ But for those who might want to criticise, he recalls some words of wisdom: ‘Fuck them niggas.’

He did, at least, perform the full hour, despite reports of shows earlier in the run coming in at 45 minutes of less. Such stories of being ill-prepared and under-running do have a habit of following him around – and no surprise if he’s happy to workshop in front of 400 people who have paid up to £15 in expectation of his A-game.

It’s so frustrating because he can be untouchably brilliant, and there are plenty of glimpses of that here, when he uses his authoritative Georgia drawl to lure us into certain ways of thinking, only to undercut it with a silly joke. But equally he’ll use that seductive lilt to paper over some cracks in the material and hope we don’t notice.

Of course, he flirts with controversy again. If you couldn’t tell from his show titles, he loves the sound of the word nigga – and gets a thrill out of saying it repeatedly in front of an audience. But his playful use of language is put to better use when he makes up French words just to sound swanky.

For all his reputation as a great social commentator – especially in the field of sexual politics – Hunter is, essentially, a mischief-maker. You suspect some of the provocative and supposedly weighty things he says are just as impish and unsubstantiated as his idea of going an entire week pretending never to have heard of Jesus.

Among newer ideas such as his obligatory take on Obama’s election, inappropriate stories to tell your in-laws and his own use of language, sits old material about being fined for urinating in the street in Amsterdam, adverts warning about the true cost of getting an illegal minicab, and the funeral arrangements for his mother.

He has all the ingredients for a great show – challenging opinions, a devilish sense of fun and that mesmerising delivery – but just not in the quantities, nor always with enough freshness, for the five-star show he surely has within him.

Review date: 27 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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