Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Wednesday 01 May 2019

Interview: Reginald D Hunter Talks A Love Of Comedy & How The Right Wing Has Triumphed In The US

For Reginald D Hunter, nothing beats the buzz of stand-up. The American comedian says that: "It's the only time of day that everyone I'm talking to is smiling. It's the only time of day that people are very happy to see me – I can't even count on that from my own family!" 
Credit Kash Yusuf

So it's terrific news all round that Reginald is returning to the stand-up arena with new show entitled Facing the Beast

This spring he celebrates his 20th anniversary as a comedian living and performing in the UK, with dates around the country, including one at at Brighton Dome Concert Hall, on 15th June.

Over those two decades, Reginald has established himself as one of the most electrifying performers at work in this country. 

His compelling routines have attracted an audience that spans the generations. He is a stand-out stand-up.

Over a bowl of chicken soup in a North London cafe, he makes for compulsive company, and two hours in his presence simply flies by.

Reginald, who has gained a devoted television audience in such popular panel shows as Have I Got News for You, QI, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, begins by underscoring just what he loves about live comedy. 

"I adore the interaction with the audience. What I live for is those moments where something comes out of my mouth or an audience member's mouth that completely surprises all of us. 

"You can't orchestrate that. That's when you laugh till there are tears in your eyes."

The comedian, who has presented the enormously popular BBC2 documentary, Reginald D Hunter's Songs of The South, and its equally successful follow up, Reginald D Hunter's Songs of The Border, both of which charted the growth of American popular song, goes on to give an example of the sort of off-the-cuff line that fires up his stand-up shows. 

"There was one moment where I came on stage when I was lean and pretty. "A woman in the audience shouted out, "Show us your c**k!" I immediately replied, "I decline to do that, mam, because it ain't that kind of party. Let me ask you, "Do you go to strip clubs and shout out, "Tell us a joke!"?""  


On another occasion, Reginald recalls: 

"I walked onstage at a club and asked, "How much were the tickets?" Someone shouted out, '£14'. 'Relax,' I replied, 'here comes £9.74!'" 

The stand-up, who hails originally from Albany, Georgia, particularly enjoys performing in this country. 

He explains why he has such a tremendous rapport with British audiences: 

"I love the fact that they will hear you out. I'm a black man from the South of the US. I was born in trouble, and I don't expect no game to be 50-50. All I ask is that I know what the rules are going in. 

"In the UK, the rules are simply these: you can talk about anything you want, no matter how graphic or goofy, as long as you're funny. 

"But if you talk about stuff that isn't funny and isn"t going anywhere, you will be asking the Brits for your ass back. "That's my ass over there on the floor. Can I have it back, please?""

We are currently going through an especially turbulent era in politics. Reginald admits that, perversely, bad times can actually be good for stand-up: 

"They make comedians tougher and sharper, if you can survive and you don't let it shrink your nuts!"

These troubled times are provoking extremely angry debates, and in Facing The Beast Reginald will be addressing that. 

The comedian's eminently sensible response to the prevailing air of fury is simple: civility. He reasons that, "If I wanted to question your view, I'd say, "Sir, you say that, but could I ask you this?""

He adds that: "There's no problem on earth can't be solved between two people by 15 minutes of considered chat – that goes for marriage, Brexit, or the Middle East. 

"These things are easily solvable, but the fact that we have talked about some of these things for 50 years tells me that the powerful prefer the issue to the solution. It's a matter of divide and conquer."

In Facing The Beast, Reginald will also be tackling the thorniest issue of our times: Brexit. 

"I consider my team of friends, comedians and writers to be 'Drama-cide' Detectives – the name comes from my all-time favourite series, Homicide.
 
"If I was launching a 'Drama-cide' investigation of Brexit, I would advise my British friends to go back and look at whose idea it was. 

"Once you have filled in the blanks, then you have the freedom to decide whether or not you should be mad about it." 

Reginald continues: "The people who are against Brexit are blaming each other, but they weren't even in the room snorting cocaine or chasing $3000-a-night hookers with the people who instigated it. 

"To quote my favourite lyric from that great philosopher Eddy Grant in his song Electric Avenue: 'Who is to blame in one country? Never can get to the one'."

The comedian will also be talking about how the right wing has triumphed in the US. 

"They worked out that they could never beat us liberals on civil rights or morality. So wisely, they decided they didn't want to engage with that. Sometimes you've got to tip your hat to the devil.

"So this has been their strategy over the last 10 years. Our lawyer will stand up and say, "Crop rotation is not just good for the soil and the crops, but also for the long-term good of the earth." 

"The right-wing lawyer will then stand up and say, "I love mom, apple pie and yabba dabba-do," and the judge will declare, "Case dismissed"."

Reginald continues: "The right wing has been whupping us over and over with that since George W. Bush. It has culminated in Trump. He responds to morality and facts with anger-inducing, divisive nonsense. 

"He can't get us in the arena of facts and morality, so he's moved it to a bullsh*t circus where all the laws of gravity are suspended and context doesn't mean anything. 

"All that matters are feelings, and perspective is greater than reality."

So what does he hope that audiences will take away from 'Facing the Beast'? 

"I hope that sprinkled in with the jokes and the absurdities is a reminder that we do have solutions like civility and being able to admit you're wrong when you clearly are wrong." 

But ultimately: "There's nothing new under the sun. The only new things in the world are mobile phones and the internet. Everything else is based, as it always has been, on money, power, land and sex.

"The people who read Shakespeare will recognise that!"

Reginald D Hunter's 'Facing The Beast' tour visits Brighton Dome on Saturday 15th June 2019. Tickets are available from reginalddhunter.com

by: Mike Cobley & James Rampton




Share    

Credit Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

As Frankenstein arrives at Theatre Royal Brighton for a week of performances, Rona Munro discusses (below) her new adaptation of Mary Shelley's Gothic masterpiece which places the writer herself (depicted by Eilidh Loan) amongst the action, as she wrestles with her creation and with the stark realities facing revolutionary young women, then and now.


The University of Brighton will launch Brighton CCA, the first major new contemporary arts gallery in the city for twenty years, on Saturday 19 October 2019. 
Credit Helen Murray

It is the part that restarted Laurence Olivier's career. Corin Redgrave performed it late on in life. Michael Gambon did so on screen. Three years ago, Kenneth Branagh took it on in the West End. Now, this autumn, it's Shane Richie's turn ..

Accidents, heartbreak and a career curse plagued Brighton-duo Blood Red Shoes on the road to their new LP, the appropriately and knowingly-titled, Get Tragic. 

Charly Bliss, the American four-piece band - who have traded their brash punk persona for a more thoughtful pop sound - make a welcome return Brighton, following a well received appearance at the city's Great Escape Festival, back in May.
Credit Steve Ullathorne

For more than twenty-five years the London-born ventriloquist Paul Zerdin has been wowing audiences across the globe with his cheeky brand of stand-up puppetry, and his 'sponge family' – including peppy tween Sam, demanding newborn Baby and old man Albert – have becomes stars themselves. 

Last Saturday's Live at Brighton Dome gathering of top comedians and attendant comedy affectionados was one where the support bill was pitting its accumulated talents against the anticipation building for headliner, Nina Conti.

You will have seen Henry Paker's name whizz by as a writer on the credits of a huge variety of comedy shows, from Michael McIntyre's Big Show, Eight Out Of Ten Cats, and Mock The Week all the way to Comic Relief and Top Gear. 

From 7th October 2019, activists from Brighton and Hove will travel to London to take part in what is expected to be the biggest act of non-violent civil disobedience in history – as Extinction Rebellion starts its next International Rebellion, which will last up to two weeks.
Carleen Jackson

Brighton-based Carlene Jackson saw the potential of cloud technology early and went on to build a thriving consultancy business with twenty staff. Below she talks about partnering with Microsoft, staff and apprenticeships and how a 'learning difficulty' has made her a better entrepreneur. 
Credit Pooneh Ghana

Having just got off the road from supporting Pixies, The Big Moon will be heading to Brighton, early next year, in support of new album, Walking Like We Do.

South African choreographer Dada Masilo's Giselle - which plays at Brighton Dome, this October - brings the ballet into the 21st century. The Soweto-born choreographer and dancer has taken the classic favourite and thoroughly shaken it up so audiences can anticipate the unexpected.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd