Interview: Reginald D Hunter
Reginald D Hunter began stand-up as a bet when he was a drama student in England, and thankfully the country has become his home ever since. This year he embarks on his sixth solo tour show, aptly entitled Trophy Nigga, and will be appearing at Sunderland Empire tomorrow evening.
AD: Hi Reg. How’s your tour going?
AD: Good to hear. How does this tour differ to your previous shows?
RDH: It’s better – I’m older, smarter, funnier, more dangerous, and more ferocious than ever before.
AD: You’re mainly touring theatre venues; but the last time I saw you was at The Grinning Idiot Comedy Club in Newcastle in front of 100/150 people. Which do you prefer?
RDH: I like ‘em both, man. I like ‘em both. It’s a different kind of buzz [playing to a smaller crowd], but it’s a buzz none the less. Big rooms, small rooms – if they speak English I’m supposed to get ’em.
AD: What do you think of public reaction your stand-up, and in particular the classification of you as an offensive comedian?
RDH: I don’t think much of it at all. I never have to go see me perform, I will never ever know what it’s like to experience me perform live; and so I think some people, when they try and describe what I do, they do what’s easiest. It’s easier to classify me as one thing or another. I don’t take it personally. Sometimes somebody might call you something, and it might feel like it’s insulting, but it might just be the extent of their vocabulary, so you have to just go, ‘Oh, okay.’
AD: You cause quite a bit of controversy for your use of the word nigger in your show titles – how do you feel about that?
RDH: I don’t find anything about what I do or say controversial. The way I talk and what I talk about is exactly the way my family and friends talk, and I’m stunned that others are offended or find what I say controversial. I’m genuinely surprised by that every time it happens.
AD: Do you think on a whole British people understand your humour better than Americans?
RDH: Nope. I think in America there is a lot of ‘me’, and over here there is very little of me or my type – but there’s a greater appreciation here.
AD: Why did you decide to base your comedy in Britain then?
RDH: I happened to be in Britain when I decided to start doing comedy. It’s like deciding you’re going to have a major wardrobe change when you’re standing in a dress shop. You just happen to be standing there and go, ‘Fuck it, let me wear a dress!’
AD: You showcased your show Trophy Nigga in Edinburgh this year. What was your highlight of the Fringe?
RDH: Sleeping in the same bed for a month [laughs].
AD: As a punter yourself, do you get to see much comedy? What acts do you enjoy?
RDH: I don’t get to see a lot of comedy, which was why it was ultra important to bring somebody [with me on my tour] I would like watching every day. That’s why I was lucky that Steve Hughes said yes, and that he had time available. Have you seen Steve Hughes?
AD: Yeah, I have. He’s great. You two have a very similar style of comedy. Is that what makes you laugh?
RDH: Ah, well – no. I mean, it does sometimes, but puns make me laugh. Sometimes a fart joke makes me laugh. Sometimes I like sophisticated stuff, and other times I like stuff that’s just stupid.
AD: Do you still get inspiration from other comics?
RDH: I do still get inspiration from other comics, yeah. And once again I’m starting to pat myself on the back, but I was smart enough and lucky enough to book someone who fits that bill. Steve Hughes is one of maybe three or four comics who, when I see him perform, I think ‘Jesus, I’ve got to go back and start writing.’ I get that inspiration from him every day, because I watch him perform every day. I genuinely believe that when you’re doing a long tour, you have to pick somebody to tour with you who is as good as you, or if you’re lucky someone better than you.
AD: So do you still question your own ability, despite your success?
RDH: Man, you have to. Success is often what other people see when they’re looking at your work. Other people can’t have access to it – that has to be you and you alone. The stuff that really gets me excited about stand-up comedy, nobody else can know about that, else they might take it away from me.
AD: You have a lot of creative influence on your stand-up, but naturally TV work is a lot more censored. Which do you prefer doing?
RDH: Stand-up is more fun, but television work is a lot easier. But I love stand-up.
AD: Finally, I’m coming to your show in Sunderland tomorrow. What can I and others expect from your tour, and from you?
RDH: They can expect constant, relentless, comedic pressure from all angles – from their own points of view, and from points of view they’ve never considered. And if they’re easily offended, not just by words but ideas, then, you know, that’s what they make Lee Evans DVDs for. They should check that cat out.
Tickets are still available for Reginald D Hunter’s show at Sunderland Empire on Sunday 7th November. They are priced at £18 and available here.