Come to stand-up wanting audiences to like you, and your humour will be compromised because the best comedy is rooted in honesty. Approach it wanting to make people laugh with your truth, however unpalatable, and that’s when people will like you. That’s one reason people come out of their houses - to experience something manicured mainstream media won’t offer. Oh, and to get bladdered with their friends and make twats of themselves proving they are in no way as funny as whoever’s on stage. All of that was going on when Reginald D Hunter headlined.
First up was Paul Sinha, whose act revolves around the facts that he’s a gay, Asian, former GP, with a sideline as a Z list celeb on a daytime quiz show. In many ways his act is utterly conventional – he offers a series of polished gags like classic TV funnymen have for decades. What makes him interesting is those gags are often piercingly acute in their social/political analysis, only much funnier than that sounds.
Marlon Davis is pretty funny, but see above about wanting people to like him – it gets in the way. If he can give less of a shit about popularity, Marlon could get on with delivering the full force of the humour we caught glimpses of, which spins off the fact that mentioning he’s black is still relevant in 2016 because he’s confronted by a world which keeps reminding him.
Then there is Reginald D Hunter. Where the other acts are out to entertain, Reg’s thing is more, as he says, about sharing things with an audience in the same way you would with friends at home. Honesty is all, allowing for the fundamentally bogus format of someone telling stories they’ve told often before knowing where people are likely to laugh. But that’s fine – musicians are faced with the same dilemma, of how to invigorate old material with feeling, and it’s something Reg does with conviction.
In truth, this is not one of his finer performances. Reg hasn’t been performing much lately, taking time out to deal with the presence of a previously unknown teenage daughter in his life. All of that gives his set more impact than someone just coming in and doing their shiny word-perfect thing. And when he does hit those notes of truth, like when he goes into his unexpected friendship with a 75-year old woman, the distinction between what Reg does and what most other comedians are satisfied with becomes clear.
Reginald D Hunter, Paul Sinha, and Marlon Davis were at Meadow Lane on Saturday 19 October 2016.