Without a trip to the Udderbelly venue in Edinburgh’s Bristo square my 2006 Festival Fringe wouldn’t have been complete. This venue, number 300, is an upside down purple cow, complete with massive head and four large feet that tower into the sky. Inside there’s a stage, 322 tightly crammed together seats and some pretty sphere lights that dangle from the roof. It’s also where I saw Reginald D Hunter perform his stand-up comedy show last night entitled ‘Pride and Prejudice and Niggas’.
Mr Hunter was born in the United States of America, but now lives in Britain. I was unfamiliar with him before last night’s show, but his popularity was enough to make this a complete sell out. His voice, charisma, easy going personality and general stage presence make him a man born to perform. When Reg speaks, crowds listen. And for the first 35 minutes or so last night I was totally captivated. The shows central theme appeared to be the deals we make with each other and interluded with this comes tales, recollections and character acting that brought genuine laughs from the predominantly young, white audience. His material left no subject taboo; although in some cases I thought he could have delved still deeper.
Explaining the Chinese man who thought he was Pele, just because of his skin colour, and how others believe him to be Lenny Henry gave us a true insight into the deeply observational and reflective humour Reg Hunter provides. Other areas of his comedy, like the joke he was scared to write are, I think, intended to promote a comics right to freedom of speech and prove that in humour nothing need be taboo, nor be taken as true reflections of the comic himself. And to Reginald’s credit he never went after cheap jokes and never used the audience to gain cheap laughs: most of his material was clearly thought out and intelligently delivered.
The trouble was Reg seemed to get put off his act around the time he was conducting a poll of who had seen their own ‘a***hole’. A steady stream of persons, whom I found a little rude (but if you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go) began making their way across the periphery of the stage, up the steps and out to the bathroom. The material from this point onwards seemed more subdued, less enthusiastically delivered and lacked the same cohesion and flair that had made the first half of this show so compelling. His well quoted “Mommas Baby, Daddy’s maybe” phrase, while delivered as only his accent could, was subdued and so was the ending, with Reginald’s changed persona re-entering the stage, complete with guitar and racist glove puppet.
I’d like to hear Reginald’s last half of the show on another night and see if the crowd movement/other factor did throw him, or whether this is the norm. It’s still a good show, but you can’t help but feel he possesses the talent to make it so much better, the latter stages should have been delivered so much better.
Reginald D Hunter’s show ‘Pride and Prejudice and Niggas’ runs at the E4 Udderbelly at 2015 until the 28th August 2006. Tickets cost Â£11 or Â£13, depending on night.