The third time was not the charm for Reginald D. Hunter. When it was announced that the UK would complete its hat-trick of lockdowns last year, the comedian thought he might be going crazy.
I lost my mind for about 24 hours but then I got it back the next day,” he tells me in that typical South American drawl. “I think we’ve all been traumatized. It was isolation, boredom and panic, but to be honest, my mind has erased it. There was just a new level of sadness. I’ve never lost hope, but there’s something there.” It was dark for the time being. I called one of my ex-girlfriends and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is what you should be like’ all the time.”
There were little things to be thankful for. His lockdown bubble was small and quiet – just him and his assistants/friends, who have since moved out. “I wasn’t stuck in the house with anyone I didn’t want to be with,” Hunter says. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to have family you’ve had enough of after a day or two.”
His father, whose sense of humor and warmth he had inherited, died in early 2021 and the comedian says the lockdown has complicated the grieving process. “We [he and his family] It’s been a long time since then,” he says. “I think we all took it hard and being apart and being alone in our homes didn’t help. That’s why we’re working through it.”
Hunter is a strange mix – a typical American comedian who makes his home in Britain, but whose humor strikes an Irish audience like few others. He’s one of the very few foreign artists I’ve heard of with a solid Irish accent. He says there’s no real difference between what’s funny in the three countries: “Once stuff manufactured everywhere looked the same, people had to claim that other things they made were unique — like humor. ” But he admits that there are probably reasons the Irish ‘get’ him. “I think there is a mutual acceptance between me and the Irish audience,” he says. “No country of white people has ever had to deal with racism in the same way as the Irish people.”
Hunter grew up in Albany, Georgia, the youngest of nine children. His late mother was a domestic servant. In his 20s, he says, he “hated” her, but since her death in 2004, he really misses her. “The things she used to do that annoy me or hurt me just crack me up now,” he says. “I understand him better now and I know I often misunderstood him.”
He had a gun to his head during a gambling dispute in Georgia in the mid-1990s. His life flashed before his eyes and his greatest regret was that he had never been to England. After escaping his life, he traveled to the UK at the age of 27 to study at the RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). He left before completing the course and was fired from a touring pantomime. Then one night at a bar he started saying “s**t” and found everyone around him laughing. He started doing stand-up regularly and a new career was born.
Success came quickly, and in the early 2000s Hunter was nominated three times for the Perrier Award in Edinburgh.
Many times I have provoked people in the wrong way. He was labeled the “Black Bernard Manning” because of his routine on race issues, and the London Underground refused to allow posters for his award-winning show. Pride and Prejudice…and niggas,
They suspect it will still smell the same about today. The lockdown has made some discussions about racism a bit redundant, he says, and he denounces the culture of amusing outrage that is fueled by social media. The tagline of his new stand-up show, Bombay Shuffler, reads: ‘Climate change. Mass unemployment. economic pandemic. The rise of global fascism. So what the f*** could be asking this guy to bother you?’
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“People are wasting time with this nonsense even after we have a global pandemic,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Man, are you still a racist? Didn’t you notice that a virus is killing us all?’
“There is something in the air, maybe in the media or on social media, it is all about keeping us in a constant state of anger. No one else can say ‘I was wrong’ or ‘I’m sorry’ anymore. I remember when I was arguing with my mom and giving her some lines and she would just listen, fold the clothes, and when I was finished she said, ‘Hmm, crap, do a lot of work, Is not it?’ ,
In comedy, a lot of the anger in 2021 seemed to revolve around Dave Chappelle, another African-American comedian. His Jokes About Trans People in His Netflix Special near The streaming platform has prompted protests from employees and criticism from LGBT groups.
“I feel a mix of things about that,” Hunter says. “I applaud her for being brave enough to do it and, right or wrong, she has a right to say that. But I also think the trans community has a reasonable concern that her stance will encourage those who are not fair… just awful. but i think these things should be noticed and talked about. i don’t like bullies, even christian bullies or black bullies. i think That there are threats even within minorities and it is difficult for minorities to deal with them when they are one of their own.”
Chappell has stated that he will no longer talk about the trans issue in his comedy and that Hunter has also reconsidered aspects of his set several times.
He has displayed an almost face to face in the heat of the moment. “One time I was on stage and I was in the middle of a little bit and I said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry to stop in the middle of this, but I can’t believe it anymore’. The thing went like this: ‘ Men and women end a relationship in different ways. Men end it in pain and women end it at home’. I was in the middle of saying that there was something inside me that was telling me To true but it is not Truth.
“At that point I would make that joke and there would always be one or two women who would wait afterward and say, ‘Well, let me tell you what he did to me.’ Honestly, I take that stuff on board. If three-fifths of the room is peeing for laughs and two-fifths of the room is hurt, you have to watch the joke.”
I suggest that those who have detected a kind of sexism in Hunter’s humor may have been a little overjoyed in 2014 when it was revealed that he had a long-lost daughter.
“You know who did [the gloating], “I have interactions. Bitch. This is the kind of thing that a bitch would say. ‘You must be a daughter, Mr. Coolest man in comedy, now what are you going to say, huh?’
His daughter is 20 years old and has “every part of my nature,” he says. However, early in their relationship, they had to figure out where their boundaries were.
“There was some difficulty between me and him because I had never been a father and so I was in a hurry to do all the things that I thought a father should do. But it was not fair at that stage of our relationship,” he says. “For example, if she swore I was looking at her, ‘Can you say that?’, but it wasn’t really what I meant to say.”
Hunter is a regular on-panel show like have i got news for you And the show in the UK and Ireland sells, but there is also a sense that, given the hundreds of thousands of people who have watched his videos online, and given his ability to push cultural buttons, he may have gone more stratospheric.
“I still think that day is coming,” he says, before hinting that he might be a little more rigid about his career in the future.
“When I was younger, I had some philosophies about arts and commerce that I wish I didn’t have. I belong to a generation of artists who were heavily influenced by Bill Hicks – not advertising and that kind of thing.” But let me tell you one thing I’ve learned recently: There’s no greater opportunity to rethink your entire life philosophy than to be stuck at home for 18 months.”
Reginald D Hunter’s “Bombay Shuffler” show tours the country this month before arriving at Everyman’s in Cork on February 5 and Liberty Hall in Dublin on February 8. Tickets from Ticketmaster and reginalddhunter.com