9 August 2008

Reginald D. Hunter - No Country For Old Men

A couple of years ago Reg had a really strong set and was nominated for the top award. Last year he had a good set, edgy title but his choice of venue, the Udderbelly, was rather unfortunate as for the opening week of the festival it nearly blew over in the strong winds. This year he is back, in the biggest venue in Edinburgh (well, maybe the Music Hall @ Assembly Rooms is about the same size or slightly bigger but you get my drift) and there is a lot of expectation on him... Can he be the first person to put in an excellent performance in perform in the big venue? Many have tried and many have failed: Ed Byrne - okay and sadly the best so far; Omid Djailli- disappointing and light; Tim Minchin - played safe and coasted. Step forward Reginald D. Hunter to move us and make us cry with laughter as everyone knows he can!

Okay, first off, my expectations were dampened in advance by a conversation I had with Kate Copstick where she was highly critical of Reg, despite being a self-confessed massive fan of his, and felt he was coasting (especially as he is only playing a limited run). The second thing that really knocked my expectations was Reg's new hairstyle. Gone are the cool dreadlocks and instead he has bobble in his hair and (according to his opening gag) looks like a twelve year old girl. The third nagging thing became quickly apparent as he walked a limited amount around the stage and only played to the central section, ignoring the wings (although to be fair I was in the centre having already heard this rumour). Not the best start but on with the laughs! Erm, not quite. He tried to shock a few people who hadn't seen him before with strong surprise ends to his gags but there is nothing funny about swearing at the end of a half decent set-up when you have the talent like Reg has. His call backs were weak, mainly because they revolve around something he thought was edgy and going to shock but no-one really cared or was surprised. The big finale was the only call back to get a decent laugh and certainly wasn't big enough to end the show on a high. He did however make an interesting point about Americans longing for a superhero to come and save them but Jon Stewart, amongst others, made that point a few months back. Was he coasting and has he lost the hunger as he approaches 40? Yes, sadly he has - just like he has lost the edgy titles to his shows too. I suggest he renames this show "No Comedy From Old Men". The curse of the Grand continues, much like the curse of the Music Hall - you know who I am talking about Rich Hall, Adam Hills (despite his fun ending) and especially the WMD size bomb that was the heavily drugged Dara O'Briain. Disappointingly 7 out of 10 - everyone knows you can do better when you have the hunger.