reginald d. hunter Photo by KASH YUSAF
Reginald D. Hunter Photo by KASH YUSAF

BN1 Chats with Reginald D.Hunter

 “I went through that summer where I was obsessed with Minder and another summer where I was obsessed with the Last of Summer Wine, I’m very bingy.”

Since his first UK comedy gig 21 years ago, Reginald D Hunter has had England in a chokehold. From his delightful southern drawl, to his distinctive take on diverse subjects and honest observations, I think Hunter is a true anglophile at heart. BN1 were excited to find out more on his upcoming tour, his writing process, as well as reminiscing over the first few visits to England and long summers spent binging the best of British telly.

The comedian is bringing his latest show “The Man Who Could See Through Sh*t” to Brighton 20th March at the Brighton Corn Exchange.

How was your last tour? Will you be using the same material or have you got anything new for this show?

Well, I’ll tell you this. We did the tour from October to December, we took a break for the holidays and then we did Singapore and Thailand. While I was over there, I wrote five BOMBS that I can’t wait to bring to the stage. 

How was the response from the crowd over there?

I mean, everybody treated me well. In Singapore and Thailand, I was playing to a lot of British expats and they just seemed like they were glad to see you, they were glad to get some homegrown or western homegrown comedy entertainment. They listened, they listened in a different way too. British people that I met over in Thailand and Singapore look well, they look so well they almost look American.

I think it’s common knowledge how you started in comedy, but who inspired you, who were your comedic heroes?

I used to have comedic heroes, but I killed them all! (Reignald said before bursting into a chuckle and then started listing some of his old favourites). 

I liked Pryor. I liked Dave Allen. I like Dave Allen’s control on stage. He’s sitting, with just a drink in his chair and his legs crossed, he was like Captain Kirk. I was like, Yeah, I want to be that guy. I liked Eddie Murphy when he was doing his thing. Jesus, Reeta Rudner, I loved her stuff! I used to love Paula Poundstone, She’s still going. Oh man you make me do this walk down memory lane baby, you’re getting me all choked up you know!

I heard you comment on it before, so I wanted to ask what you think about ‘cancel culture’? 

I don’t know, I think it’s been made a bit of a boogeyman.

I think Dave Chappelle is getting a lot of junk at the moment, because it’s just his time, when you’re around as long as he is, you’re gonna get some jump. That’s what this whole situation seems like, with a lot of social media attacks and ‘cancel culture’. It seems like they’re coming for all of us at some point, like a big social media shark, “dun dun dun dun”. When the shark comes around, you just hope there’s a tank in its mouth and you’ve got at least one bullet left in the rifle.

What’s your writing process? 

Sometimes I have jokes where I have the joke, the setup and premise, but the punchline wont come for ages. On the other hand, sometimes I have a punchline where the premise and set up doesn’t fall into place for ages and then it just lines up all of a sudden, you make the connections in your head and you’re like “ohhh that goes here, and that goes there!” 

Suddenly you can realise that this great new line of the joke that you have fits into something overall that you have over here and if you put them together, they begin to form the basis of a routine. When you have a routine, well you’re onto something now.

What was it like visiting England for the first time?

My girlfriend that I had when I first came to England, she came with me a couple times and she hated it. I remember she had just come back from the store and she was pissed off! She said the place closes at six, it is ten to six, I get to the door and there’s a closed sign! It’s supposed to be open for ten more minutes! I’m looking in the window, looking at the people who work there, pointing at the sign – they know it closes at six – the fuck kinda place is this? She was really pissed.

Laughing, I said to him that his girlfriend has a problem with me. I told him that I have worked in a few shops over the years and would always try to close as early as possible. Must be an English mindset, I told him as he started chuckling. 

After living in England for 20 odd years, I’m intrigued to know what British TV you got into when you first came over here?

I used to love Rumple of the Bailey. I got it in book form at first, I was working as a clerk for a lawyer who had Rumple as a book on tape. So at this point, I’m into the books, and I’m into the books on tape. Then I came over to England, and I saw it on TV for the first time and It was so stodgy, I was like, oh my god! Then I went through that summer where I was obsessed with Minder and another summer where I was obsessed with the Last of Summer Wine, I’m very bingey. I could never get my head around Doctor Who, I didn’t know it was for kids. I read years ago that Doctor Who was Britain’s Star Trek and I was like oooh I can’t wait to see that and….yeah not what I thought. 

I used to be really into BBC 4 Storyville, I’m a storyteller at heart. When I was in Georgia, I was part of a powerful professional storytelling group. You know, we used to go around the countryside, parties, after school programmes, celebrations, there were about 15 of us. The SOS, I think they’re still going and still called the Seven Oral Storytellers and we were like storytelling Jedis.

Do you miss any American food? 

I used to bring things like Fruity Loops over here, American cereals, but then I began to realise there was a reason why Britain didn’t let them in the country,

so I stopped eating them.I was like ohhh they put that in there, and they’re alright with these chemicals being in food, oh wow! I mean you look at Americans and you can tell we eat steroid food. 

What do you think about the royal family after the Queen’s passing from an American/English perspective?

You know what, you keep coming up with some numbers don’t you, fantastic questions. Not that I have great answers for any of them.

When my mother died, the first thing I thought was, oh my God, what’s going to happen to us as a family because she was the glue. When I look at the royal family and it’s like, she was clearly the glue. If I understand correctly, one of the constant fears inside of the monarchy is that one day the people will grow tired of the monarchy. I mean, I just don’t see anybody in the royal family coming along, that’s going to unify or re-galvanise support for the royal family. I have respect for the royal family and I’m not hoping for this, but I’m just saying that unless they have some event or some new person who makes them love them so much that we don’t mind the monarchy, then it just seems like they are opposed to becoming a drift. Americans, we love anything British, anything French, you know white America loves anything that speaks to its white European heritage to a point.

I was on stage one night and I was doing this joke about Megan and Harry and a guy on the front row shouted, “Fuck Megan.” I looked at him and said, “Why that?” He replied, “she stole our Harry” and the audience went, “shut the fuck up!” People really feel like that and that’s the thing, there are people where this still means something to them. 

Reginald D Hunter: The Man Who Could See Through Sh*t, playing March 20th at the Brighton Corn Exchange. Tickets: www.reginalddhunter.com

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