JOE talks to Reginald D Hunter about Ireland, the 'D' and John Terry
"Constant, relentless, intellectual, emotional, comedic pressure. I bring pressure"
Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t get mad at Reginald D Hunter. Through nobody’s fault, our arranged interview time slipped a few hours but the big man from Georgia couldn’t have been more apologetic. “I’m so sorry about that," says Reg when we finally reach each other. "I was just told a few minutes ago I was doing this today. If I had known this, I would have woken up a different way.”
That famous charm allows him to discuss some very serious issues in the most beguiling, and engaging, way and it makes him one of the best live acts to see on the comedy circuit. As I will find out, he easily surfs between the fun and gritty stuff and he’s happy to take the conversation wherever you want to take it.
The reason why I gave Reg a call was because he will be in Dublin next week as one of the headline acts for the Vodafone Comedy Festival (July 26-29, Iveagh Gardens). As a regular visitor to these shores (he’s in Galway at the Arts Festival on July 25 too) he’s a big fan of Ireland.
“I like Ireland very much. If I can get enough time, and a little extra cash, I’m gonna find some village and just spend a year there. Get me an Irish chick with a big ass and we’re going to smoke and drink and sit around and go see shit. I’d be into that.”
And as we know from the below clip from one of his previous shows, Reg not only likes us, he speaks the lingo too.
“I speak Irish," he reminds me. "I think it’s intuitive. Sometimes I meet an Irish person I have never met before and he will say something and I will know exactly what he means.”
Of course, Reg has lived in this part of the world for well over a decade now since he came to England to become an actor. After giving stand-up a shot, he stuck with it and now he is one of the biggest names in the game.
As for what anybody coming to his shows next week can expect, Reg initially sounds like he promises a demanding evening out. “Constant, relentless, intellectual, emotional, comedic pressure,” he tells me. “I bring pressure.”
However, if the mood is right, he is more than happy to just go with it too.
“For me, it comes down to two things. Some people they come to see a show. Other people come to have a good time. The artist part of me is always inclined to do the show but sometimes people just need to have a good time.
“It’s like sometimes, when you’re at your house, and a couple of people show up, and then all of a sudden you get a sense that a party is about to break out. You could be an asshole about it and start reminding them that you have to go to work or you could just let it happen. “
But some things he apparently can’t let go, like what the ‘D’ stands for in Reginald D Hunter.
If you wondered, as I did until I did a bit of Googling, it’s Darnell. However, on the posters for his new show in Edinburgh next month, ‘Work in Progress. And Niggas’, the D is proudly displayed as ‘Deke’. What’s the story?
At this point Reg laughs deeply before handing the phone to a man called ‘Cash’ who he claims designed the posters. Cash goes on to say he can’t remember but he claims an ‘inane conversation’ led to coming up with the name on the poster.
Reg takes back the phone at this stage, tells me that that was Cash’s first ever interview and that “the coach needs to pull him aside for a minute” and that “rookies will make mistakes”.
Football is full of people. Are people racist? Whatever answer you come up with for that applies to football
To find out more about the origins of Deke you will have to go see the show but an increasing number of people who think the ‘D’ stands for ‘Delicious’ is at the root of the problem and, as Reg says, “I need to head this shit off at the pass”. I don’t know if any of the above is true or not but I’m looking forward to seeing him on stage and finding out.
And just like one of his shows, if you want to have fun, Reg will have fun. If you want to get serious, Reg will get serious. As you can tell by his new show’s name, and as you will know if you have seen him in action before, race is an issue that Reg feels it’s important to talk about.
With that in mind, I mention the recently concluded John Terry case to Reg, just to get his view of the whole affair.
“I do have views on that,” he says, noticeably building up speed. “Just like the Jimmy Carr tax thing, it was a lovely news distraction. It was not news, it is not worth the level of attention that has been paid to it. People are asking is football racist? I can solve that in 10 seconds. Football is full of people. Are people racist? Whatever answer you come up with for that applies to football.
“And as far as John Terry is concerned, who cares if he is racist? Who cares? He’s a footballer. He’s just being made an example of and the destructive thing is this: For people who are racist, or near racist, this situation has done nothing to help them evolve out of it. All it has done is entrenched them in it. It has caused the very harm that it pretends that it wants to solve. It’s a lie. That’s what I think.”
Well I did ask. And it was the most succinct analysis of the entire thing I have heard. There is no better man than Reginald D Hunter for a bit of intellectual discourse with some jokes thrown in.
And if you are in the mood to party, that’s cool too.
For more info on the Vodafone Comedy Festival, just click here.