Reginald D Hunter - Tall tales
This article is from 2008.
Reginald D Hunter is a giant of UK stand-up. But, as he tells Jay Richardson, he’s still trying to escape the sins of his father
‘I have always found Edinburgh intense, in my soul and in my belly. You can’t say there ain’t tension in my shows. It’s in my life and I’ll put it all on y’all.’ After more than a decade of stand-up, Reginald D Hunter maintains that both the Fringe and television ‘don’t really know what to do with me. A Perrier judge told me that a couple of years ago. I’m black but I don’t have a lot of pro-black views. I’m American but I’m not pro-American. I genuinely like women, but I get angry with them.’
In a Superman T-shirt and girlish pigtails, the triple Perrier-nominee explains why he’s returning to the Fringe with No Country for Grown Men, venturing that ‘there are a lot of challenges to masculinity today and I got something to say about it. I don’t believe in infantilising people, particularly women. There’s this myth about their softness and how you’ve got to protect them. Women can perpetrate it to their own advantage and as a person, I don’t like undue influence on me. I get resentful when someone believes they know my politics or how I should feel. Because there’s a lot of women that need a good cussin’, just like a lot of people. They don’t need to be exempt because they got titties.’
Hunter’s routines invariably centre on his contemporary preoccupations, but relationships are a constant. ‘I’m closer to figuring out my fucked-upness about women,’ he muses. ‘But there’s no point in me getting into a relationship until I discover what I do that drives them crazy. I spent years listening to ex-girlfriends telling me what a bastard I was, yet they still wanted me. You hear something long enough, it becomes a doctrine: “I am emotionally unavailable”. But then you realise you’re taking a view of yourself from someone who didn’t get what they wanted.’
Hunter may have partly figured out his feelings towards women, but he’s clear on where some of his attitudes and behavioural patterns stem from. ‘If I followed my instinct, I’d be trying to have sex all the time, get high all the time and be any kind of fool all the time. My father had many affairs. And if I had been married at the age of 19, I would have slept with a bunch of women who weren’t my wife too. The thing is, I’m not becoming him. I am him.’
Reginald D Hunter, Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 3–14 Aug (not 12), 11.15pm, £12–£14 (£11–£12.50). Previews until 2 Aug, £6.