Anh Doe - Macandmae.com'The man himself is a compelling story teller – be it that smooth baritone voice (some may call it sexy), his articulate delivery or that somber facial expression he adopted when laying down the synopsis of a rather horrific Chinese movie...'open/close
Sex, politics, racial issues and cultural differences – you name it, none of these favourite comedy fest’s themes were missed out in Reginald D. Hunter’s (proper) NZ debut last night. What set him apart, was his delivery. The man himself is a compelling story teller – be it that smooth baritone voice (some may call it sexy), his articulate delivery or that somber facial expression he adopted when laying down the synopsis of a rather horrific Chinese movie. Hunter drew the audience in slowly, revealing just enough details to make us squirm in our seats having recognized certain violation of moral values; before delivering a punch line on the other end of the spectrum, highlighting social stereotypes instead. That being said, he was clearly not afraid of discussing controversial headlines such as the Oscar Pistorius’ trial or Trayvon Martin’s shooting, throwing in his own twist, which turned the first into a hilarious sitcom-like story while the latter – a thoughtful observation of American internal and foreign policy.
From hindsight, Hunter is a combination of an entertainer and a clever politician of sorts. He started out claiming there wasn’t a title to his show, yet the performance itself was flawlessly constructed; complete with an introduction, recurring issues, a climax involving a “spur of the moment” vodka shot and winding down to some I-meant-no-offence last words. Perhaps after many attacks he’d received in the past on his notorious use of the N word, Hunter has learnt a thing or two when approaching a new audience. We were ingeniously flattered with praises on New Zealand’s trouble-free reputation, unknowingly being prepped to receive him with an open, welcoming mind. He did also forewarn of his N word onslaught, which judging by roaring laughter throughout the show, he had succeeded in conditioning us for what was to come. A cunning plan that worked. At least for me, it did!
Hunter’s promise to work on acquainting himself better with the audience during his stay in NZ left me secretly chanting encore in my head, wanting to see what other thought provoking material he’s got. Heck, some trickster at the front table even tried fooling Reg into thinking he’s still got another half an hour of showtime when in fact he had gone well over – making us late for our next gig. That, we’ll forgive him. The show goes on every night at the Comedy Chamber Auckland until Saturday May 3rd. You won’t be clutching your stomach from excessive laughing, but will hopefully leave satisfied with some food for thought.
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Reginald D Hunter was a standout at the Comedy Gala. His six minutes on Oscar Pistorius were sharp, cutting and utterly hilarious.
In the UK, Hunter is a bit of a legend. He's appeared on seemingly every TV panel show in existence, sitting there quietly until he suddenly sparks up, firing out insights that have people in hysterics.
He's from the United States originally - born and bred in Georgia - but moved to the UK in his late 20s where he tried stand-up on a dare.
He was good, and so here we were on a Tuesday night, witnessing Hunter's New Zealand debut. Coming on 10 minutes late, he was a beaming ray of enthusiasm, launching into a rant about how genuinely inspired he was by New Zealand's peaceful environment and people.
From there it was a wild ride into his comedy that's often been called "confrontational" and "controversial".
Whether it was his easy-going, deep Georgian drawl, or the fact his comments were always in context and carefully worded, he was never offensive.
He was, at times, shocking. Race and rape never make for easy listening. But Hunter always has a point to make that seems to come from either a genuine place of caring, or logic.
For that reason, the comedy works and the laughs come thick and fast.
His Pistorius content is equally hilarious the second time around, and his ongoing questions about the lengths a friend will go to save your life will have you talking after the show.
At times things get surreal.
One of the most shocking shockers of a film (A Serbian Film) gets a mention, and there's a five-minute recap of a macabre Chinese movie that has the room in total silence. The payoff gag is so quick and cheap the whole thing somehow works.
Again, the room is in stitches.
He asks for the house lights up at various times, chatting to the audience in order to make a point.
There's nothing awkward and it's all in good jest, apart from one woman apparently looking a little too sour.
He unleashes with a beaming grin, "Woman! You might not be judgemental… but you could sure do something about that look on your face!"
Reginald D Hunter gave a hilarious, often thoughtful stand-up show.
It was an hour-and-a-half (perhaps refined to an hour, by the time you see it) well spent.
Reginald D Hunter is performing at Auckland's Comedy Chamber April 29 - May 3 and at Wellington's Hannah Playhouse May 7 - 10.
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Ingrid Grenar - KeepingupwithNZ.com'4 Stars - I’ve read the phrase ‘hung on his every word’ pretty often in comedy reviews (I’ve probably written it too), but I don’t think I’ve ever been in an audience where you could actually feel, and see the anticipation and hypnotic attention that this man managed to achieve...'open/close
There was an air of authority when Reginald D Hunter walked onto the stage at the Comedy Chamber for his first full show at the NZ International Comedy Festival. Those that are from, or have lived in the UK over the last 10 years will know Reginald D Hunter as a regular on the stand-up scene and TV panel shows. He is originally from Georgia which gives him an addictively pleasant voice to listen to.
I’ve read the phrase ‘hung on his every word’ pretty often in comedy reviews (I’ve probably written it too), but I don’t think I’ve ever been in an audience where you could actually feel, and see the anticipation and hypnotic attention that this man managed to achieve.
A laid back, smiling and enthusiastic Reginald D Hunter arrived a little late for his opening night, and was slightly tentative to start his show as he said ‘I’ve only been here a week and I don’t really know y’all’. However this experienced and intelligent comedian defiantly got to know, and charmed his Auckland audience.
His first observation of us Kiwi’s was our lack of news, problems and police, leaving him with the conclusion that NZ’s only problem was that the Labour leader resigned. His shock at this seemingly dull headline, and compliments at our slower pace of life, warmed the crowd.
Having recently felt the wrath and power of the British tabloids, I am pleased that Hunter is still as honest, open and uncompromising as always. His material is edgy and tackles the topics some may think untouchable – Oscar Pistorius and rape being two of such topics where he managed to get a room full of laughs and not be deemed offensive.
The audience may have held their breath slightly as he raised the house lights a few times to ask some questions, and get to know us as people. However these exchanges where fun and always ended in a worthy roar of laughter.
Hunter definitely conducted his audience to his own tune as he played around with his provocative material. Most memorable was an uncomfortably disturbing story, which had the room in totally silence only to be hit with a punch line moments later!
His scheduled hour show overran, but this was much to the joy of audience. As he wrapped up the evening he seemed fond of little old New Zealand, and when he’s finished his run at this years festival I think he will have fully stamped his mark on us. His unpredictability and intelligence is slightly intimidating, but that’s the magic ingredient that makes him such a mesmerising and addictive performer to watch.
Reginald D Hunter is sure to be the talk of the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival, so join in the chatter and go see him!
Reginald D Hunter's reputation precedes him, having appeared numerous times on QI, the greatest panel/quiz show in living history. On that he's always struck me as a smooth, glib, image conscious expat African American.
Now, in real life at his first hour (and bonus twenty minutes*), most of that impression remains, although image-wise he's rather casually dressed in jeans, sneakers and untucked shirt, more like a West-coast Rasta than the scrubbed-up, blinged-out … fellow I've seen on telly.
I almost used the N word there, which I know for a fact Hunter would totally understand and appreciate due to his opening anecdote and explanation of his own relationship with that word. However the same anecdote presents a warning about people's propensity to cast blanket judgements over the use of such language in our post-post-modern society, hence my restraint. Plus it's not a natural part of my personal vernacular.
Reginald's opening spiel reveals two things. One, he's still feeling the burn from the fallout of a local media scandal he was in the centre of last year for using said bad word at a high profile event, to the point of being pre-emptively defensive about it. Two, he's unsure what to talk to us Kiwis about since we seem so nice, not weighed down with parochial racial tension like just about everywhere else he's been by the sound of it. He's in awe of our lack of such problems.
It's true we mainly white liberals attending his show are the sort who live for the most part in blissful detachment from racial hostilities, while generally aware that they do persists to varying degrees in our society.
The tone of his narration supports Hunter's claim to organically feeling his way with our responses and attitudes to his opinionated yarns, careful not to over-offend as he may well to live here one day, presumably after the rest of the world evicts him for keeping it too real.
It's not all about race of course; it's at least as much about women and the evils of mass media and American politics. One cannot even raise these subjects in order to comment upon them without the risk of seeming belligerent, bigoted, paranoid or all three.
Yet however crass or off-colour Reginald's standpoint may appear, it's clear he gives a lot of ongoing, rational thought to these issues, being as they are the elephants in the room of his life. He's genuinely discussing these points, not merely spouting off the same old misguided dogma as a true bigot would.
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It’s the politics and the morals that Hunter, and his show, are mired, in that truly fascinates and troubles me. I found myself agreeing with all of his statements about race, especially his use of the n-word not as something offensive, but as something that is part of his vernacular. I’ve felt the same about my own use of the f-word (the second f-word that will come to mind), and how I’m allowed to use it because, in short, I’ve had the training. It’s a part of my vernacular. Hunter makes statements about race and society that come from a place of lived-in knowledge and a somehow bright brand of world-weariness.
It’s his comments on gender that sent my mind into dark and turgid places. Hunter makes statements about women, and jokes about the relationships between men and women, like many other comedians do, and specifically like many other male comedians do, and some of these jokes are offensive. My companion to the show found him offensive and dismissed him outright, which is an utterly valid point. As a duh-feminist—a feminist who is a feminist because duh!—I disagreed with a large amount of what Hunter was saying about women, which included an admittedly funny joke about what a man will do for a woman that a woman won’t do for a man.
The difference between Hunter and other comedians in this regard is that I didn’t turn off from what he was seeing, but considered the life that he comes from and the life that he’s lead. Hunter so confidently put me in his position, and in his life, with those seemingly effortless set-ups, and then slayed me with the punch lines. I’m still trying to work out how he got me in that position—not that I was challenged in my opinions or where I stand on issues of race or gender—while allowing me to genuinely understand where he comes from and where that humour comes from.
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Reginald D Hunter is exactly as his biography describes him – unassuming, provocative, raw, fresh and above all else funny.
The American born comic exudes the Southern charm of a gentlemen which stands him in good stead, particularly when tackling a wide spectrum of topics. Many of which make people uncomfortable and shock especially since he catches us off guard, due to his skilfulness at lulling us into a false sense of security.
His epilogue following the “real start of the show” is uncharacteristically apologetic if one is to stereotype the Yankee demeanour. But as we get to know him we realise that although he has a great deal to share in terms of his opinions, pleasing the audience is a big part of his show too – somewhat of a juxtaposition given the risqué topics he touches on throughout his almost 90-minute performance.
What endears him immediately to the audience is his unashamed airing of his own dirty laundry, which makes us feel like he is bearing his soul. But don’t let his charm and wit fool you as Hunter has a lot to say and he is not one to hold anything back. Sarcasm and the Southern drawl work hand-in-hand to pack the punch that he desires, a style that is unique and novel especially since he uses “old fashioned values” to paint these descriptive vignettes.
Listening to Hunter spout his wisdom I couldn’t help reminiscing about my really good friend Flynn Adams from Kansas. There is a certain way in which Americans from the Southern states are able to broach topics that we who speak in a more common accent just can’t get away with. And yes I know I've mentioned it a few times but listening to Hunter speak made me feel all warm and fuzzy – so thanks for that, something I really didn’t expect when I walked into the Comedy Chamber today.
Another thing that was like music to my ears were the somewhat ‘dated’ references– it felt like a trip down memory lane for me when he included stories about the late Ronald Reagan (having lived in the US during the mid to late 1980s) and Star Trek (one of my all time favourite TV shows).
It's not long before the audience realises that Hunter is a different sort of comedian – not traditional in delivery, content or pace which definitely made for a refreshing change. In fact Hunter is more of a philosopher-comedian with sharp observations on the human condition, which incidentally also includes some strange audience kindness surveys. He's wise and thoughtful and he clearly cares about the fate of the human race, making him very likeable even when touching on edgy themes related to intimate human sexuality.
In some ways Hunter may think slightly too much, apologising in advance, during and at the end of the show for lots of things and even offering people their money back if they hadn’t enjoyed the show. To be honest I thought all that was unnecessary especially since the audience was clearly eating out of the palm of his hands.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show and really felt that Hunter spoke from the heart. Just a friendly piece of advice to a newbie in Aotearoa: stop apologising ‘cos we love your work mate!
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