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Reginald D Hunter’s ‘nigga’ show upset ‘the Manchester United of people’

by | 1st, May 2013

PA 16410555 Reginald D Hunters nigga show upset the Manchester United of people

THE Professional Footballers’ Association (|PFA) booked American-born Royal Academy of Dramatic Art alumnus Reginald D Hunter to entertain footballers at their AGM. His performance was peppered with the word nigger. He called Liverpool’s Luise Suarez a nigger. Although is most newspaper that is written as “n******”. That’s to avoid being offensive. The Telegraph says he made potentially offensive jokes about Jews and women.” Isn’t everything potentially offensive? The dread buzzword is “inappropriate“. Was Hunter being inappropriate?

Dwight’s website tells us:

He makes people uncomfortable, shaking their suppositions and airing plenty of his own dirty laundry….

…Hunter’s stand-up proves him a hard hitting pugilist…

His style is honest, his material is controversial…

He has performed in such shows as: Reginald D Hunter: Pride & Prejudice… & Niggas, Trophy Nigga and A Mystery Wrapped In A Nigga.

In 2006, he spoke with Bruce Dessau:

Reginald D Hunter is in trouble for using the N-word. The problem is, it’s part of the title of his stand-up show, Pride and Prejudice and Niggas, which comes to London next week, and he wants to advertise it.

But his posters have been banned from the Underground for fear of offending commuters, and some newspapers have only agreed to print ads for it without the title.

Hunter is perplexed. “I thought you people were all cool,” he observes, in a laidback, Deep-South drawl.

What he’s most surprised about is that this objection should have arisen now, four months after he premiered the show – and title – in Edinburgh, where it won a Writers’ Guild Award without raising an eyebrow.

“I can only speculate that this is a time where race is more of a heightened issue, because of war, immigration and a sense of ‘let’s not rock the boat; let’s call people by their proper names so that nobody will bomb us’,” he says.

“In an ideal world I’d get up, do my show, people make me mayor for a week then I go home. Instead I wake up five months after I wrote the motherf***** and people are mad.”

On the word ‘nigger’?

“The idea of reclaiming it is bullshit because we never owned that word. It’s not like eight centuries ago we used to go around calling each other ‘nigger’, then slavery came and we gotta get it back. It’s just that where I grew up we used that word all the time. It’s the way I speak.”

But would he use it in the presence of white people? “If I’m with white folks and I want the evening to go smoothly I won’t call nobody nigger, but I won’t not say the word. I get annoyed with people who want to embrace the word but not let it evolve with the rest of the English language.

“Look at phrases such as ‘Go girl’ or ‘Keeping it real’ – they come from the black community but are used by everyone now. My question is what if I don’t feel bad about the word? Should I train myself to feel bad just so you’ll feel better about me saying it?”

On racism:

“The greatest trick of racism is to convince us to sectionalise our own human pain. Divide and conquer – the idea that the black community has got to be like white folks to be just as good as white folks as if white folks are the template, the Manchester United of people.”

In 2012, he told Helen Lewis:

Should good comedy challenge the audience?
It can do many things. If anybody says that it “should” be this or that, that’s the first step towards extremism. Some nights, I’m pissed about something political; some nights, I’m pissed about something personal. Some nights, I’m thrilled about something weird…

Stand-up comedy is about breaking that wall of polite company – calling out the elephant in the room. The audience didn’t come to see you be nice; they can do that themselves. They came to see you do something they can’t do…

With comedy, you can talk about anything you like…

So. That’s who the PFA booked.

Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, wasn’t bothered:

“Well, he’s a comedian, isn’t he? It would be rude, when you’ve got a professional entertainer [to comment].”

Clarke Carlisle, the PFA chairman, was bothered:

“As the chairman I am embarrassed. I apologise unreservedly and it won’t happen again on my watch. What galls me is that it was a momentous occasion. It was our 40th award, Kim Little won the first women’s award, a place in history. It was the first time that the men’s and women’s game had unified and instead we are talking about someone who we paid to come in as entertainment come in and be facetious about something we stand vehemently against so I apologise for that. I was embarrassed. 

“I’m not lambasting Reginald D Hunter. That’s his act, it’s what he does. When you go to a comedy store you know you might have to leave your moral compass at the door, but the PFA Awards dinner, the showpiece of our season, is not the time to have an act like that. I am having a go at us as a union for putting that kind of material on show. We are seriously going to have to discuss the format of our evening because when you book a comedian, especially someone who does push issues to their boundaries and beyond, we have to question whether our event is the right time and place for that and I personally don’t believe it is.

It shouldn’t be a time for satire or politicising things, it should be a time for celebration. That was a massive error in judgement and it’s something we need to look at.”

Lord Ouseley, the chairman of Kick It Out, had earlier waded in:

“It sounds to me that the PFA needs to answer questions about how they booked this person and why they booked this person. I’m surprised there wasn’t a mass walkout. It almost begs the question, ‘Why does Kick It Out bother?’”

Why does it bother?

A few others chipped in.

There was the censorious:

Rory Smith@RorySmithTimes: People who aren’t black shouldn’t use the n-word. That’s fairly simple. I’d leave it to black people to decide if they should.
The satirical:
Mr Vertical Football@SurrealFootball: Are journalists just jealous that Reginald D Hunter can confront racism effectively? Are they embarrassed by their own efforts?

The ironical:

And yet they weren’t embarrassed about Ched Evans. A year ago, when the Professional Footballers’ Association last sat down to honour the outstanding members of their organisation, Sheffield United striker Evans made the League One team of the year. He was widely agreed to have had a good season, until an unfortunate event occurred. He was convicted of rape and sentenced to five years in prison.

The verdict was reached at Caernarfon Crown Court on Friday, April 20, with the PFA dinner on Sunday, April 22. The organisers ploughed ahead. – Martin Samuel

On May 29, the PFA statement thundered:

“The PFA regrets the offence caused by the performance of Reginald D. Hunter at last night’s awards ceremony in London. We share the strong disappointment felt by our diverse membership at the choice of language throughout his appearance. We would like to make clear we feel any use of such language is wholly inappropriate.

“[Hunter] was booked on the basis of his recent television appearances. However, clearly his performance was of a very different nature. In a conference call with Reginald … it was outlined that [the] make-up of our audience would be widely diverse, including around 25 per cent of women and ages ranging from 18 to 80. It was made absolutely clear that swearing or any racist references were to be avoided. Therefore we were totally dismayed that the performance was the exact opposite of our requirement.”

PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes says:

 “Whatever he was paid was too much.”

Football fans who don’t support winning teams nod in agreement.

And now the PFA wants its money back.

What should Hunter do? Well, laughing would be the best medicine…



Posted: 1st, May 2013 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink