Ipswich: If I got spun out every time people said no... Regent-bound Reginald D Hunter interviewed

Reginald D Hunter. Photo: Idil Sukan Draw HQ

Reginald D Hunter. Photo: Idil Sukan Draw HQ - Credit: Archant

First question out of the gate and it’s looking like this may be a short interview.

“Well, respectfully sir, it (the thinking behind the title and theme of new show, In The Midst Of Crackers, at the Ipswich Regent tonight) is pretty well covered in the show, it is giving (it) away to an extent... come and see the show,” laughs Reginald D Hunter in that polite Georgia drawl.

The tour’s very going well though?

“Very well , thank you for asking. The show is 44-years-old. I snatch from every area and aspect of my life, so yeah it’s been a long time coming. It’s changing, it’s shaping, when I’m asked process questions about how you do it, I go ‘I don’t know’,” he laughs. “I do the thing.”

Nice recovery Wayne, I think. Until I touch on the much in demand comedian’s brutal honesty on stage.

“I contradict that... I only seem brutally honest to the emotionally weak. Everybody else, there’s nothing intentionally brutal about me and there’s nothing brutal in my words. I try to put unpleasant things pleasantly; but yeah all the people who find me controversial are the people who are generally finding lots of other things controversial too.”

Having lived in the UK for years now, he’s noticed us Brits love taking positions on anything and everything. He says it feels tired to pretend that anyone in comedy is controversial.

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“It’s stupid, I mean what am I going to say? Controversial to me is somebody who works for the state department or in the judicial system, somebody who can affect people’s lives like laws, food distribution, medicine, something like that... but a man telling some jokes,” he laughs.

His family back in the States certainly don’t find him controversial.

“They just find me in extremely poor taste,” he laughs. “They’re still bemused; it’s like they don’t know you that way. When I go home, I’m fairly quiet; it’s a quiet kind of place. They’ll be like ‘go to the store and get some milk’, ‘pick up Aunt Josie’. I’m a different Reginald for them so when they turn on YouTube or come to the gig and then you’re like ‘let me tell you about fat a***s’ they’d be like ‘I didn’t even know he was having sex’.”

Hunter, who trained as an actor but was bitten by the stand-up bug when he took the stage as a dare, admits he chooses subject matter than can be... problematic.

“I look at a lot of stuff comics are doing and there’s some subjects that are just well covered, it’s like cops walking a beat so I go to other things - issues that seem controversial and I tend to show how they’re not.

“Then reactionary people will just go ‘oh he’s controversial for talking about the subject’. It’s like ‘no man, I’m telling you the subject is not controversial. It’s just you’ve been told to react controversially to it’. That’s the point.”

It’s a problem, says Hunter, adding the seemingly increasing number of reactionary people get in the way of change.

“It’s absurd to me to me that anyone would think I’d put myself through the potential risk of people getting upset with me over contentious issues for something image or vanity based. I’m sick of people thinking certain things are problems when they’re not.

“Then you go ‘okay, if this is such a f***** problem let’s take it apart right here on stage’. I think most solutions in the world are fairly simple, once you remove your bias, emotions, your historical resentments, all that other stuff people bring. The problem is usually not the issue, how people feel about the problem is.

“Saying ‘well, your people have always been s*****d on and people have always got the break’, that’s not going to fix the bridge. Just fix the bridge and then we can argue about who’s been treated worse.”

At least the name of this new tour made it into theatre publicity. Many venues wouldn’t post the name of his award-winning Pride and Prejudice... and N****s show with the London Underground going as far as to ban promo posters.

“Man, people have been telling me know all my life, I mean if I got spun out every time people said no I’d be in a mental home or something. The hoopla, the thunderstorm around it just kind of bemused me... they didn’t say ‘no and Reg you’re an a**hole, they said no,” he laughs.

If you can’t make it to tonight’s show at the Ipswich Regent, check out Hunter’s second live DVD, In The Midst Of Crackers, available from November 18.

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