REVIEW: Reginald D, Hunter – The New Zealand Debut (NZ International Comedy Festival 2014)

Reginald D Hunter has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

Devilish debut delights [by Sharu Delilkan]

Reginald D Hunter has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.
Reginald D Hunter has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

Reginald D Hunter is exactly as his biography describes him – unassuming, provocative, raw, fresh and above all else funny.

The American born comic exudes the Southern charm of a gentlemen which stands him in good stead, particularly when tackling a wide spectrum of topics. Many of which make people uncomfortable and shock especially since he catches us off guard, due to his skilfulness at lulling us into a false sense of security.

His epilogue following the “real start of the show” is uncharacteristically apologetic if one is to stereotype the Yankee demeanour. But as we get to know him we realise that although he has a great deal to share in terms of his opinions, pleasing the audience is a big part of his show too – somewhat of a juxtaposition given the risqué topics he touches on throughout his almost 90-minute performance.

What endears him immediately to the audience is his unashamed airing of his own dirty laundry, which makes us feel like he is bearing his soul. But don’t let his charm and wit fool you as Hunter has a lot to say and he is not one to hold anything back. Sarcasm and the Southern drawl work hand-in-hand to pack the punch that he desires, a style that is unique and novel especially since he uses “old fashioned values” to paint these descriptive vignettes.

Listening to Hunter spout his wisdom I couldn’t help reminiscing about my really good friend Flynn Adams from Kansas. There is a certain way in which Americans from the Southern states are able to broach topics that we who speak in a more common accent just can’t get away with. And yes I know I’ve mentioned it a few times but listening to Hunter speak made me feel all warm and fuzzy – so thanks for that, something I really didn’t expect when I walked into the Comedy Chamber today.

Another thing that was like music to my ears were the somewhat ‘dated’ references– it felt like a trip down memory lane for me when he included stories about the late Ronald Reagan (having lived in the US during the mid to late 1980s) and Star Trek (one of my all time favourite TV shows).

It’s not long before the audience realises that Hunter is a different sort of comedian – not traditional in delivery, content or pace which definitely made for a refreshing change. In fact Hunter is more of a philosopher-comedian with sharp observations on the human condition, which incidentally also includes some strange audience kindness surveys. He’s wise and thoughtful and he clearly cares about the fate of the human race, making him very likeable even when touching on edgy themes related to intimate human sexuality.

In some ways Hunter may think slightly too much, apologising in advance, during and at the end of the show for lots of things and even offering people their money back if they hadn’t enjoyed the show. To be honest I thought all that was unnecessary especially since the audience was clearly eating out of the palm of his hands.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show and really felt that Hunter spoke from the heart. Just a friendly piece of advice to a newbie in Aotearoa: stop apologising ‘cos we love your work mate!

Events Innovated presents Reginald D, Hunter – The New Zealand Debut and plays at the Comedy Chamber, Town Hall until 3 May. Details see NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Nik Smythe

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