Reginald D Hunter : Wake In Sleight

By Noel Kelso

Familiar to most people through his appearances on UK panel shows such as QI, American comic Reginald D. Hunter returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with his new show Wake In Sleight – an hour of thoughtful, hilarious, sometimes provocative and occasionally touching humour.

Appearing on stage in total darkness before the lights rise to reveal him standing behind the mic, ready to start the evening, Hunter begins his show by saying that a lot of people seem offended by his material and that he is clearly being misinterpreted by those people. This prompts the first ripple of laughter from the packed auditorium of the Forum theatre.

Without missing a beat Hunter then launches into some material about the case of a certain paralympian who is currently facing serious charges in South Africa. The audience is already putty in his hands as they laugh heartily to his musings on this media spectacle, drawing parallels with the OJ Simpson case of some years previous.

This is a performer clearly at home on stage in front of a large audience who can judge just how far he can take his humour before pulling back. Along the way he also makes references to local personalities and locations which make the show all the more inclusive and give a sense that here is a man who takes the time to get to know his audience.

We learn that Hunter has a large family in which he is the youngest of nine children and of his rivalry with one of his brothers, a successful Doctor. His relaxed, conversational style allows him to breezily cover subjects such as rudeness, white middle-class race guilt, marriage and how best to compliment a woman with ease and humour whilst also making some astute observations and pointed comments on society.

A word of warning to those offended by the n-word – Hunter uses it a lot during the show simply as a descriptor for people. Not just black people, but everyone. Rather in the same manner that the average Aussie might use the word ‘bloke’.

His observations on how national psyches differ are accurate and very funny indeed with many in the audience laughing in recognition at his description of the Australian version compared to that of the US or Britain.

He ends the evening with a lovely tale concerning his adventures with his elderly father and of the attention this nonagenarian received in the fancy hotels at which they stayed.

Wake In Sleight is on at the Forum Theatre – Downstairs until April 20