An Interview with Reginald D Hunter
By Victoria Holdsworth
Reginald Darnell Hunter is a challenging, intelligent and blissfully funny comic, and he’s back on the road. Due to popular demand the comedian has extended the critically acclaimed UK Tour of Some People V. Reginald D Hunter.
His searing and brutally honest material has garnered him a popular fan base that spans generations. Frequently controversial but always meticulously measured and thought out, his reflections on life, sex and race are refreshingly laid-back.
Quite possibly the most polite man I have ever spoken to in my life, I chatted with him before his upcoming show in Leeds to find out how broken bones, white supremacists, Otis Redding and Superman have shaped his life…
Your new tour tackles a lot of political issues, especially relating to Donald Trump and the effect that his presidential win had on not just Americans, but the world. What is the biggest shock he has bestowed on you so far? And do you think that you would make a good president?
Yes Ma’am, my apologies. Biggest shock? The biggest shock is how brazen the corruption has gotten. I mean, Nigeria ain’t got nothing on us no more! [laughs] I think I could be a good reformative president, but I would need dictatorial power for about five years. [laughs] After five years we can them resume lying and using fossil fuel and all that stuff that we love doing now.
“You have a long time to think”
You recently revealed to comedian, Richard Herring that you had only just found out that you had a 16-year-old daughter. How has being parentally responsible for another human being changed your life views?
Well, to be honest, I’ve had very little hand in raising her up to this point. I don’t know if I have the right to truthfully call myself a parent yet. So far, my parenting consists of listening to post high school plans, being encouraging, and subsidising her existence.
You said that comedy can get a bit lonesome at times. Why do you think there is such a high correlation between sadness and comedy?
Anybody who thinks a lot is… well there is bound to be sadness in some parts. Nobody experiences depression like comedians and long term prisoners [laughs] because you have a long time to think.
Last year saw you break your leg, and you said that it changed how you evaluated life. What changed for better or worse in you at that time?
Last October I had done a tour in Ireland, and I was wearing the boot on my leg, and I had a married couple get angry at a new joke that I was doing. They stormed the stage! That is the first time in my life that I had someone bearing down on me like that. I couldn’t swing, or run good! [laughs] It made me resolve to never again, as humanly possible, be in a position where I am vulnerable to people weaker than me. Secondly it… you know what? To tell you the truth, I have heard people all my life say, ‘Oh you’re a big dude, things like this shouldn’t affect you.’ Or say things like, ‘You better move out of the way of the big dude’ but this past six or seven months I have a better appreciation of what smaller people feel. I had an ex-girlfriend I was hanging out with a few months ago, and she got angry, then she got drunk and angry, and I’ve known this woman twenty years, and it was the first time in my life I was scared of her! [laughs]
Well they do say that poison comes in little bottles.
[laughs] True, and if you can’t swing, you’d better run good!
“An ability to laugh at myself”
You have been engaging white American racists in debate on Twitter recently. What results have you had from that exercise?
When I set out on that exercise, how do I put this? My reasons were two fold. It seemed that racists were inflamed and more vocal than they have been in a long time. So firstly, I wanted to engage them calmly, and actually determine what it is exactly, what’s their beef? Secondly, a lot of young kids are watching me. Young comedians that may be impressionable, or even university youngsters, and so I wanted to show them how to be somebody like me, like this, whether it’s a racist, whether you’re a radical feminist or anyone like that, I wanted to show them that the best way to beat them is to face them.
Your book, Dances With Limeys touches upon your time spent living amongst the British for over 20 years now. What are your highs and lows thus far? Have you picked up any British quirks?
Ooooh, well I think the best thing I’ve gotten from the British is an appreciation, almost an ability, to laugh at myself. When I first arrived, I took myself ‘quite’ seriously [laughs].
Was that because you were a RADA student?
No, no no noooooo, I got off the plane like that! [laughs] You see, in America, Americans take themselves quite seriously. We’re a young nation. We culturally produced the greatest, whether it’s the greatest MCs in the house or like Ali, ‘I am the greatest.’ Americans at the height of our empire are very self-aggrandising [laughs]. But fortunately, British people and their drugs have helped me laugh at myself [laughs]. You know what, I’m not even sure if you would call it a bad thing or not, but one thing that I have picked up is, maybe I’m a bit too tolerant now. That’s probably it, that I’m a tad over tolerant. Yeah, that’s me in Britain [laughs].
“I am now even able to offend the deaf”
In your show Songs of the South we got to see some of your childhood influences and heritage, but if you could have been a singer or musician, who do you think you would have liked to have been?
Otis Redding! [the name almost purrs from his lips]
Any particular reason?
Hmmmm, his music still shapes and cuts people to the bone, and erm, how do I say this without sounding crass?
Just say what you want.
Okay. [laughs] He had a seemingly endless supply of world class pussy! I saw a documentary once about Otis Redding and yeah… oh boy! [laughs]
2017 saw you being finger heckled by one of the sign language interpreters at Latitude festival. Was this possibly the first time you’ve been fingered off by the hearing impaired, and what did you say to make her chasten you?
Ma’am, I get fingered off every single day! Even from people in my personal life. People that I know every day, [laughs] there is always some family member or ex, or promoter somewhere that is fingering me off! I wasn’t even aware that I had been heckled by a sign language interpreter and quite frankly, I’m honoured! Damn! I’ve reached the point where I am now even able to offend the deaf [laughs].
Reginald D Hunter, you are a film star, a panel show regular, a dominant force on the stand up scene, and documentary maker now to add to your many talents. What would you like to do next?
Oooh, what do I want to do next? Well, I appreciate all of those generous observations of my achievements. Hey, I’ve seen Tales From The Crypt. [laughs] Well I still haven’t finished what I initially set out to do ma’am, and that was to save the world! So I had better give it another week or so.
And if you were to save the world as a super hero, who would you choose?
Well, obviously Superman! Hell, if I was Superman, I would be embarrassed if it took me longer than a week to sort everything out. If you’re Superman, and it’s taking longer than a week to sort the world out, that’s not good.
For more info visit: reginalddhunter.com