While many comedians have traditionally done work in progress shows in London and around the country before coming to Edinburgh, Reginald D Hunter is one of an increasing number of comedians who seem to be using Edinburgh as a place to road test material ahead of a national tour.
Maybe it’s a hangover from the Lockdown Fringe of 2021 when a lot of new material was first tested in Edinburgh because of the lack of opportunity to fine tune it beforehand, or maybe it’s a sign that Edinburgh is losing its importance for established acts. Either way, the insight into the creative process provided by these rough drafts is always interesting and sometimes excellent.
Hunter’s show straddles both of these extremes, there are a few jokes that don’t land and you wonder how they made it this far rather than whether they will make it into the finished show, there are other sections that feel like early sketches for something that will grow into longer routines, and there are some parts that already feel like the finished article.
Opening with a routine that includes a reflection on the nature of his comedy and his daughter’s assessment of him as not a ‘jokey joke’ comedian, other highlights dotted throughout the set include observations of the difference between Americans attempting English accents and English people attempting American accents. This is a hilarious take on Queen Camilla as a black American woman, and his observations on England’s relationship with the rest of the UK and what happens to British people smoking recreational drugs.
At the end of the show he tells the audience ‘you all have been as cool as the other side of the pillow. I have fulfilled my contractual obligations’ which might suggest that he is maybe regretting bringing the show to an audience at this early stage in its development.
An earlier admission that he wasn’t happy with the previous night’s show, adds to this feeling and yet it feels like he is being overly critical. The set is better than many polished products are, and there is more than enough for anyone seeing it this year to want to return to see the finished version that he promises to return with next year.
Reginald D Hunter’s show has finished its short run