After the racism rows that have embroiled the Football Association over the past couple of years, you can imagine the organisers of the Professional Footballers’ Association’s (PFA) annual awards ceremony’s horror when the comedian they hired for the evening, Reginald D Hunter, started using the ‘n’ word during his set at the Grosvenor House hotel in London on Sunday night.
Hunter, a black American comedian, might not have been the best booking considering the high-profile incidents such as the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand race row, and Luis Suárez’s eight-game ban for racial remarks against Patrice Evra. Chairman Clarke Carlisle admitted that booking Hunter was “a huge mistake”.
It’s not unusual for a comedian to be hired for an inappropriate gig. Tom Allen, a British stand-up and writer, understands the issues that they face. “As a comedian you’re saying how you see the world from your shoes and so it’s not always a case of misjudging the audience but sometimes being mis-booked”, he says. “You can only talk about your life but there are times when you don’t appreciate how much effect something will have”.
Awards ceremonies are famously filled with comedians who rile audiences and leave the organisers holding their heads in their hands.
The “We saw your boobs!” song by Seth MacFarlane at this year’s Oscars was spectacularly ill-judged, while Russell Brand received some strong words from producers after he called George W Bush a “retarded cowboy” live on television at the MTV awards in 2008. And anyone who has ever booked Ricky Gervais for an awards show knows that he’s likely to insult half the audience during his set.
Now the PFA wants Hunter to pay back his fee... that’s got to be a joke.