Reginald D Hunter: The controversial comedian on sex, 'Star Trek' and why he moved to Britain


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The Independent Culture

I moved to England after having a gun held to my face I was in a situation with an old high-school buddy back in Georgia in the US, playing cards and gambling. He was on crack and he caught me cheating. That thing they say about your life flashing before your eyes – it's true. I'd always wanted to see England and I promised myself that, if I got out of that situation, I'd go. I was mad, too, that I'd got busted by a crackhead!

I had an idealised vision of this country That it was this quaint, scholarly and polite place. That was naïve, but unlike any other place I've visited, on a society-wide level, you all do give a serious go at being fair. Take the phone-hacking scandal; it's similar to America's NSA spying scandal, in that an institution that we trust is spying on us, but whereas the American authorities responded by saying things like, "Move on, watch some TV," in the UK, it's like, "You know what, we're going to put some people on trial."

All I really want to talk about is anal sex and farting All this stuff about me being a controversial stand-up talking about race and gender politics are just labels that people have thrown on me. Left to my own devices I'd want to talk about other things, but I can't because white people in this country are a little too self-congratulatory about being above it all, and I can't let it go.

There's more racialism than racism in Britain People here have trouble telling the difference. If we're at a bar and you're white, that situation is inherently racial, but people are so paranoid about racism, they're afraid to acknowledge and talk about it.

I didn't anticipate footballers getting upset about my use of the word 'nigger' Football is overscrutinised in this country, particularly in a racial way. And at my gig at the Professional Footballers' Association in April [when Hunter caused a furore by repeatedly using the word in his set] my politics [of race] were at odds with the politics in a room full of privileged people, and they were oversensitive. But no one got hurt, no one got disenfranchised, no one got raped, so it's absurd and perverted that it got covered in the media above real issues.

Being assaulted by a racist is like being bitten by a vampire After you get attacked by one, you become one yourself. It's a joke I'd written that never worked, as it was more clever than humorous. It took audiences not laughing over three straight nights before it dawned on me that it wasn't actually funny.

I'm a huge Star Trek fan I'm not a Trekky, I'm just a fan of the philosophy of the show. There's a Christian angle and a touch of Buddhist philosophy, too. One of the principles is about duty and collectivism: saying that we will answer distress signals even from our enemies. And being kind to our enemies is what Martin Luther King [Jr] talked about.

I have a very sparse sex life It's not that I don't get offers – in fact, I get more than I used to. But these women assume I'm getting a lot of sex, that I'm a player, and as a consequence they act with resolve towards me: they feel they can be rude or unkind to me in a witty way. So I decided to no longer get connected physically or emotionally to women who are not as nice to me as I am to them; it's one reason why I've never had a one-night stand.

Reginald D Hunter, 44 is an American stand-up. His latest tour, 'In the Midst of Crackers', is at the Pleasance Grand, Edinburgh (0131 556 6550,, from Friday to 24 August at 8pm. His nationwide tour runs to 30 November (