BRUTALLY honest and often seen as controversial, Reginald D Hunter has a distinctive take on everything from race and sexuality to the Royal family.
He says he doesn’t go out of his way to court controversy but does like to push boundaries.
“I remember as a boy watching Richard Pryor and thinking ‘That’s brilliant, but don’t stop there. Go further!’,” he says. “Now I try to create the sort of stand-up show I’d like to see – and then take it further.”
But the American comic dismisses any accusations of setting out to offend.
“I mostly work in front of over-privileged white people, and they’re easily shocked by things they don’t already believe – ‘how dare he espouse that view!’,” he laughs.
“I get a sense of contrived outrage from them. It’s amazing how many people go out of their way to be offended by what you’re saying.”
Reginald also claims to have mellowed over the years, having first performed stand-up nearly 20 years ago while a student in London. “I’m not as ferociously angry as I was,” he says. “I’ve now figured out the stuff that was making me angry.
“For example, political debate doesn’t make me mad anymore because I’ve seen through it. ‘That politician didn’t do what he said he was going to do? He’s surely the first politician in history to do that!’
“It’s bad to be angry. Anger is very powerful, but it’s toxic. It’ll burn you out if you fly on it for too long.
“All your emotions are your children. If you leave them in the basement, eventually they’re going to grow up and hate you.”
The Georgia-born 46-year-old is much more relaxed than he used to be and says much of his ease comes from working in the UK, where his ironic take on life is very much at home.
“Britain is both my real home and my comedy home,” he says.
“British audiences like being surprised comedically. The problem with Americans is that they just want you to get to the funny part.
“British people will come up to you afterwards and say ‘I wasn’t sure about the punchline, but the bits before that were extraordinary’. It’s very nice to get that response.
“In my head, the person I’m writing my shows for is British. If you make it as a comedian in Britain, then you can branch out to the colonies!”
Reginald likes to explore the differences between the UK and the US, explaining: “In Britain, you can be rude about the Royal Family.
“But if you say anything which they deem unpatriotic in the US, they say ‘Get the hell out of here!’ It’s easy to step on that fuse-box. Patriotism is the last refuge to which the scoundrel clings.
“Unlike people in the US, Brits won’t say ‘You’re too deep’ or ‘You think too much’.
“I’m not a social outcast in Britain because I use words of more than five letters. That’s one of the many things I love about Britain.”
Reginald D Hunter brings his latest show – The Man Who Attempted to Do As Much As Such – to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Wednesday, June 3.