Reginald D. Hunter: F**k You in the Age of Consequence
Company: Mick Perrin for Just
Venue: Udderbelly – Pasture
Date: 24 Aug ’07
Returning to the Fringe for his third year in a row, Hunter explained to us that he was under a great deal of pressure from his management not to include the word “nigga” in its title; his previous two shows were entitled “Pride and Prejudice and Niggas” and “A Mystery Wrapped in a Nigga”. To this end, he considered naming this year’s show “Reginald D. Hunter: At Last A Show Without Nigga In The Title”. Instead, he wound up with “Fuck You in the Age of Consequence”: “Age of Consequence” because it’s a Churchill quote and the show addresses the idea of facing the consequences of what you do, and “Fuck You” to make it sound edgy.
This bit of routine perhaps gives you some idea of a) how memorable certain bits of his set were, that I can reproduce them so far after the fact, and b) how keen Hunter can seem to court controversy. Giving the race angle a rest this year, he nonetheless includes bits on that could be called anti-semitic and misogynist, amongst other things. He is keen to explain that he doesn’t think he is any of those things, but it certainly hasn’t stopped him using the material. The key word is “edgy”. He seems to like the feel of maybe a third of the audience not being sure about him.
One down side of this for me is that I was sat in the row behind a smirking git-wizard who, whenever anything remotely controversial was discussed, didn’t just laugh at the jokes, but instead looked round at the friends he had brought with him with a big stinky smirk across his face that asked “Man! How shocking is this?!!!!!!!”. And that’s the trouble with this sort of comedy: if, like me, you get irritated by other people in an audience not enjoying it in a way you approve of, you might find it a problem.
On the plus side, though, Hunter’s show was genuinely funny, and never did the material itself offend me in the slightest. Hunter is a charismatic and confident stand-up (at one stage he hilariously mocked the suggestion that his show was “flawed because he didn’t show enough vulnerability”, by attempting to show us what his show might look like if he tried to insert “vulnerability”). The important point here is that by no means is Hunter just about shock; the Churchill quote in the title reflects a genuine interest in ideas and sharp worldview that permeates the show, and although as a running theme “consequences” is pretty woolly, that doesn’t change the fact that Hunter’s comedy is very thoughtful.