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Interview: Reginald D Hunter on his Fringe 2018 show An American Facing the Beast and Niggas


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Comic Reginald D Hunter may have been born in the states, but he has been repatriated within the UK comedy circuit, this year celebrating his 20th outing at the Edinburgh Fringe. We managed to catch up with the comedian in preparation for the debut of his 2018 show: ‘Reginald D Hunter: An American Facing the Beast and Niggas’.

Credit: Kash Yusuf

For many in the student community, Hunter’s career has probably spanned most of our lifetimes. We have made ourselves familiar with the comedian through his appearances on shows such as Have I Got News For You and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, intriguing us into dabbling further into the depths of his stand up’s refreshingly honest-cum-controversial musings on race and sexuality. But what sparked his interest in comedy in the first place? 

“It was the first thing that I found I was really good at and that was legal.”

From good, to great, Hunter has learnt to master his routine over the years, taking inspiration from reality and his own farceur disposition.

“I observe events and conversations that interest me and then mull them over in my mind until they work as a piece of comedy. [The writing process takes] two months of solid work and an extra month of unsolid work.”

Having earnt the creme-de-la-creme of all accolades, The Perrier Award on three occasions, Hunter strides into 2018’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe as one of the programme’s most accomplished acts.

“The Edinburgh Fringe either helps you get sharper or helps you maintain your strength. It’s like lifting comedy weights!”

With great weight, comes great expectation. Will there be any second-decade related celebrations surrounding his performances?

“We still haven’t heard back from the Queen. She may show up, but other than that, no, not really.”

Whether or not the queen makes it to ‘Reginald D Hunter: An American Facing the Beast and Niggas’, members of the proletariat can expect a show filled with “constant relentless demon-dog pressure”. No, we’re not fully sure what that means either, but, you’ve got to be there to experience it.

In the past, Reginald D Hunter has faced criticism over his use of the n-word, with one incident resulting in the Professional Footballers Association criticising the comedian over his use of the word at their 2013 event. Nonetheless, the forty-nine-year-old black American has used the word in the working title of many of his stand-up shows both preceding and following the 2013 controversy. But where does he currently weigh in on the debate surrounding the word and perhaps it's used by white festival-goers?

“Nowadays, Nigga is being used vigorously by white people in America, so I feel entitled to use it as well. I am a product of my country.”

As with most comedians, Hunter may become accustomed to the odd heckler during his 23-date stint at the Fringe. How does he usually deal with that?

“I tend to engage hecklers in a conversational way like I would with any asshole I might have a confrontation with at the supermarket.”

Hecklers and quiet audience members alike, the one thing he wants the audience to take away from the show is “the desire to come again”.

Aside from stand-up, the comic set his mind to TV, making the inciteful three-part series ‘Reginald D Hunter’s Songs of the South’, a deep dive into the evolution of music in the southern states of America which explored many of the core issues plaguing pre-Trump America. In recent months, he has guested on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. Given the revival of the podcast medium, are there now more opportunities for comedians to thrive on more convenient forms of media consumption?

“Yes, there are all kinds of extra media now for people to promote themselves in all kinds of work, not just in stand-up comedy. I think that stand-up comedians have more opportunity to develop more interesting sides of their artistic character that go beyond humour on so many different platforms these days.”

Finally, any advice for students looking to make it in stand up?

“It is my custom not to advise any comedian before they have completed their fifth year of stand up. However, I will just say that all the comedy courses and ‘how to’ books on stand-up comedy cannot replace the constant repetition of work in front of an audience.”

Oh, and his ones to watch at the Fringe? Glenn Wool and Brendon Burns.

‘Reginald D Hunter: An American Facing the Beast and Niggas’ will be running at the Pentland Theatre at Pleasance EICC on August 1-7, 9-13, 15-19 and 21-26 at 20:30. Find tickets here.

This article is part of our coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Click here to read other articles written by our contributors. 
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