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Reginald D Hunter
Till April 6
Leicester Square Theatre

April 5, 2024
Support: Al Porter

There is nothing much to love about a support act when all you want are the main attractions. Reginald D Hunter has been a mainstay on the British comedy circuit since the 1990s. His brash but measured style is somewhat intoxicating. In one breath, he can say the most outlandish thing, and then, in the next, something else all together. The audience was there for Reginald; the support act would have some pretty high expectations to reach.


Dressing as though he’s just come from a funeral or confessional, Al Porter saunters onto the Leicester Square Theatre stage with an abundance of joy, reverence, and glee that can only come from someone who is really, genuinely appreciative of being in such a space. Porter has refined confidence but is a bit of a magpie. He would test the audience and engage with them, but he seemed to have the sixth sense to know when to quickly move alone without losing any of his momentum.


Unlike other comics who seem to use the audience as their show rather than have actual material, Porter’s conversational approach with the audience made it quite intimate, and his confidence was something else altogether. An Irish comic is going to have a speed that allows them to unpack a lot of material, and Porter ran the gamut from a special Christmas gift he asked his nan to get him to growing up on a council estate in Ireland and being gay. Porter never holds back, and his relentlessness pays off with some of the most vulgar bits I’ve seen in a long time, and at times I really did feel for ‘Kevin’ in the front row.


But it was the end—a moment of seriousness for the audience and public reflection for the comic. Having no idea of Porter’s past, this segment of the show's climax was more emotional than you’d expect. It was a reminder that in this age of cancelling and blacklisting people in the public eye, we as a public need to do better to allow for their growth, forgiveness, and redemption. When all this happened, Porter was in his 20s, and we can only imagine what those years must have been like. There seems to be a genuine creative bond between Porter and Hunter, with the latter giving him a much-deserved second chance. It was commendable that Porter shared this experience with his audience, and it says a lot about his character.

Al Porter: New is at the Museum of Comedy April 7, tickets can be booked here.

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"Hunter doesnt hold back as he talks about sex, his familyin which we discover hes actually become a fan of The Crownand the relationship between boys and their mothers."

There was no fanfare before Reginald D Hunter walked on to the stage. No music. Nothing. Just a middle-aged comic sauntering onto the stage to eventual applause. This was different for sure, but someone like Hunter doesn’t need any fancy music to ‘announce’ them. 


Reginald D Hunter has lived in the United Kingdom for decades; this is his home, but he’s never really lost his Georgian sensibilities. The Man Who Could See Through Sh*t, a name inspired by his mother, is a kaleidoscope of Hunter’s observations and social / political insights. In his opening, you could clearly see this almost fatherly bond he’s forged with Porter, and you really do appreciate not only the risk Hunter was taking by having Porter open for him but also how significant it was for him to offer Porter that opportunity. 


Family, politics, and introspection are all on display. There is an interesting thread throughout the show that rests on this idea of censorship, and there was huge applause when Hunter shared his thoughts on people who are “recreationally offended." In the political climate today, the comedian does seem to be one of the easiest targets for this faux public outrage. This perhaps has its origins dating back to 2008, and the infamous Jonathan Ross / Russell Brand BBC Radio show. Hardly anybody cared when it was originally broadcast, but it was the ensuing press attention that got people 'upset', even if they had to go out of their way to listen to it and then become offended. This has, for me at least, meant that a trust has been broken between comedians and audiences, meaning comedians now do have to, whether small or big, watch what they say, as all it takes is one person in their audience to become ‘offended’. 


Hunter doesn’t hold back as he talks about sex, his family—in which we discover he’s actually become a fan of The Crown—and the relationship between boys and their mothers. He’s always talking to the audience, never at them, and yet his jokes are structured stories that brilliantly meander to their punchline. There is no real link between bits; that doesn't matter; the charisma Hunter has means he's able to always keep his audience guessing. One of the recurring segments of the show focused on the recurring dreams he's been having, which featured Will Smith, Lizzo, and Obama. These bits really illustrate how Hunter crafts material from things he's seeing or reading. An interesting aside was the final dream featuring Obama, where he uses as its punchline one of the greatest travesties of Obama’s presidency: Flint. There was a mild murmur in the audience; not everyone is as aware of what Hunter was on about, some did, but his reaction seemed very telling. 


In between these stories, Hunter asked for some audience participation, and the ladies next to me were really up for getting involved. The first question was for the women in the audience. There was some trepidation from the audience, but everyone took it in good humour. The second question was for them and followed the same line as the previous question, but the punchline was very unexpected. This, too, seems inspired by some recent political events in the UK around Diane Abbot MP.


You could feel this tentative dance Hunter was having to make, and it was, for me, interesting but also a little disconcerting. He never needed to watch what he was saying, but when it came to a bit in which he mentioned Israel, you could feel his unease. Hunter's comedy is well written and thought out; it is humour that relies on the single notion that good comedy doesn't need to be insulting, and Hunter never punches down. Hunter is a comic who is a brilliant human observer, but more than that, he’s actually a really good listener and conversationalist who crafts a show that makes you happy, even if he's afraid of one day becoming Uncle Fluffy.

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