Reginald D Hunter: The Aluminium Negro | Review by Jay Richardson

Reginald D Hunter: The Aluminium Negro

Review by Jay Richardson

As a comedian more concerned with exploring provocative lines of enquiry than reaching neat conclusions, Reginald D Hunter can be a maddening watch for those seeking coherent through-lines of thought and fully contained routines.

After alluding to the mixed success of his previous two nights, this is yet another show that’s very much evolving as he tours, with an early suggestion that the crowd’s willingness to buy into it and not take offence will be crucial to its success.

Those who afford him that grace – as Kilkenny did after being warmed up by Glenn Wool’s playful teases about white-on-white racial discrimination – will be rewarded with some of the most compelling, deeply personal material that Hunter has shared in recent years.

Talking for the first time about his older brother, the real outcast of his Georgia clan, Hunter’s shame at his sibling’s religious convictions and stubbornness are offset by a grudging admiration for the man’s refusal to sugar-coat his stories, even when they portray him in an unflattering light.

Hunter too, wants to appear unfiltered. And he delivers an intriguing account of conversations he’s had with his sister about African-Americans’ perceptions of Donald Trump, Martin Luther King’s descendants and Bill Cosby, suggesting, semi-persuasively, that Cosby’s adoption of a cosy, unthreatening image for white people, created the dark, unseen side that manifested itself in assaults on women.

Unwilling to be right-on, he asks for more time to get on the transgender bandwagon as he subscribes to Germaine Greer more than Caitlyn Jenner. Hunter has relinquished some politically incorrect phrases but refuses to let go of others, like the still delightful ‘poofter’.

Meaningful, to-the-point dialogue is his throwaway panacea for the world’s ills. And he amusingly illustrates this with the story of a joint he shared with an older woman as she shared, in comical detail, the infidelity that caused her marriage break-up – a tale that entertainingly throws up more questions than answers.

However, throughout the show you get the sense of Hunter circling to find the best supporting framework and philosophical entry for his most startling revelation: that he has a 14-year-old, mixed-race daughter, whose existence until now has been hidden for legal reasons.

The concrete realities of responsibility and a flesh-and-blood subject focus his more abstract socio-cultural arguments, affording them greater weight, however ridiculous they may seem given his short time knowing the girl.

He finishes on an old routine about a friend’s rape that’s caused controversy in the past and provokes the odd walkout this evening, though it’s arguably justified within the context of him railing against emotional reactions to so-called trigger words.

There remains a strong impression that Hunter enjoys being challenging for challenging’s sake. Rightly or wrongly, though, it seems less of an intellectual exercise now that he’s got a child to incorporate into his worldview.

Review date: 6 Jun 2016
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Kilkenny Watergate Theatre

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