Review: Reginald D Hunter – An American Facing the Beast and Niggas

★★
comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 14 Aug 2018
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Reginald D Hunter

The venue at the Edinburgh Convention Centre is ginormous and soulless, and Reginald D Hunter seems a bit lost in it. Yet his routine repeatedly turns on notions of dislocation, so the room's size could function as a motivator for the work an outsider has to do to be accepted. But he never truly appears to feel at home, and the resulting gig therefore fails to catch fire.

It's an odd experience. The size of the venue is testament to his appeal. He mocks the whiteness of his audience, and his gags trouble the middle-class liberalism that aims to be inclusive but is somewhat shown up by the crowd's clear lack of diversity. This is his 25th year at the Fringe, and he thanks the UK for accepting him, and for offering him a place to live where he has a relatively low chance of being shot. He's a charming raconteur, who refuses to let punters off the hook, and it's clear the audience wants to be startled and challenged.

But Hunter never gets into his rhythm. He begins stories and then checks himself, wondering whether now is the right time for that tale. Clearly disappointed in the muted reaction some punchlines get, he notes some jokes work in other contexts. A final sequence—which is preceded by an offence warning encouraging those likely to be upset to leave—is rambling, and the promised transgressions never arrive. Overall this is a muted and confused show from someone we need to be much better.