Still not too sure what to make of Reginald D. Hunter’s gig at the Alhambra on Friday.
It was part stand-up, and part self-analysis, maybe with even a bit of therapy? But for who?
‘In The Midst Of Crackers’ has some great moments, but there were times it drifted, and the laughter he maybe expected in waves just trickled to the stage.
Hunter doesn’t deliver a cosy night’s entertainment - this gig is not for the easily outraged - but he is also an intelligent man who challenges perceptions and addresses difficult topics; racism, domestic violence, rape and blackmail were all on the agenda on Friday.
He’s also very funny, but something was missing from this show.
It was far too heavily dominated by his recent fall-outwith the PFA who booked him for their awards do and then took umbrage at the set he delivered.
Clearly the matter still rankles - he returned to it time after time after time.
The points he made were valid - he certainly didn’t miss his target - but returning to it, and trying to weave the issue into his routine really didn’t work.
There was a spell midway through when the big laughs started to shrivel as he analysed the difference between genders - again some fascinating stuff, but it was more akin to self analysis than stand-up - and one superb routine floundered on a punch line which just didn’t get the response he anticipated.
He wandered off stage to replenish his glass at one stage, and switched to chatting to the audience which was fun - much of this gig I enjoyed, but overall, it lacked cohesion.
‘‘I can go on longer, but I don’t get any funnier’’ he said late on before finishing on a high and departing.
’In The Midst Of Crackers’ has had mixed reviews - there’s some interesting audience feedback can be found on the Ticketmaster website - with many left puzzled whether it was stand-up comedy or just therapy.
The show tours throughout 2013 and I suspect it will be honed further as the PFA issue diminishes, and audiences at the end of the run may get Hunter back at his best.
He’s a compelling story-teller - his ‘rape story’ (that sounds horrid but that’s what it was) was brilliantly delivered - and has a great, laconic stage presence.
But this will gig go down as a curiosity.
** Credit must also go to support act Pete Johansson for a superb 30-minute set that was sharp, sometimes strong, but laugh-out loud funny. He did a smashing job and I’d go see him again.