Reluctantly calling bullshit on Reginald D Hunter

Reading instructions

  • If you are Reginald D Hunter and/or a very busy and important person, please scroll down to the last section of this post.
  • Everyone else: start from here.

Disclaimer one: I’m a journalist

I’m not saying this because I want your pity. I’m saying this because someone on Twitter last night looked it up and suggested that it means I have ‘an agenda’. This is not accurate. If I had had a journalistic agenda in attending Reginald D Hunter’s show at the Hammersmith Apollo last night, godammit I would have been there for free on a press ticket.

I was definitely not there for free. I was there with three friends for a fun night out at £25 a head in the stalls. YOU’RE WELCOME REGINALD D HUNTER.

Disclaimer two: I enjoyed 75% of Reginald D Hunter’s show

This was the third time I’ve seen RDH live in performance. I wouldn’t say I’m a superfan, but he has made me laugh pretty much consistently every time I’ve seen him on stage or on TV. Good job, Reginald D Hunter. Thanks.

Disclaimer three: I’m a feminist

This shouldn’t even be a thing. I just want to make it really crystal clear that if I criticise RDH’s material, it’s not a black-and-white case of ‘humourless feminism hates lovely RDH’, or even ‘As a feminist I will criticise any joke which relates to subjects about which I have strong opinions, like rape’.

Other people might have a problem with those types of jokes. I’m not one of them, and I don’t speak for them (or indeed anyone but myself). What I have a problem with is when the jokes aren’t funny.

So what the fuck happened at Reginald D Hunter last night?

There was a rape joke. It wasn’t very funny.

The joke was around a conversation between RDH and an ex of his,  who told him she had been raped by a near-stranger she met at a party. RDH’s telling of the story was compassionate – sensitive, even. At the end of the account of their conversation, he asks why she didn’t call the police. She gives reasons like not wanting to have to deal with the police’s judgement of her actions. Later in the conversation, she tells RDH that she can tell the difference between good and bad men, saying something like: ‘Well, you would never do something like that.’

To which RDH’s punchline was:

‘Well, if I’d known you wouldn’t call the police…’

The majority of the audience laughed. Just over half the people in my immediate vicinity did (far fewer than for previous jokes) and a few people sucked their breath in audibly, in an ‘Oh no he didn’t!’ kind of way. We were clearly in ‘edgy’ territory.

I didn’t laugh. I felt extremely confused and uncomfortable. As the laughter died down, a woman on the stage-left side of the stalls shouted the exact words I was thinking: ‘Not funny’.

It got worse

A stand-off soon ensued between the almost inaudible heckler and the very effectively-amplified RDH. He defended the joke, saying that its meaning was clear: that women in that situation should call the police. He also said, in an aggrieved way – clearly angry and frustrated at being misunderstood – that the heckler should know that he had discussed this particular joke with the rape victim in question, who had OK-d it.

The second heckler was a woman a few rows in front on me in the stage-right stalls. She piped up while RDH was addressing the first heckler, but was almost immediately silenced. Why? She was being assaulted. I doubt RDH could see this in the dark of the theatre, but the man sitting next to her was physically restraining her, covering her mouth with his hands. Not in a jokey way. The tussle was so violent I could hear her squeaking from six rows back. It lasted 15-20 seconds. When she finally fought him off, the man stood up and stormed out of the hall.

*Edit 7.27pm: ‘Assault’ isn’t my word. I was the word I heard used by two security guards talking to the woman after the show.*

As a rule, I don’t tend to cry at comedy gigs. So the fact that tears of rage and frustration were rolling down my cheeks within two minutes of the first heckle might give a clue as to how violent these exchanges were: both the exchange that had happened in the stalls and the angry shutting down from the stage that both hecklers were subjected to by RDH (or ‘the man with the microphone’, as I thought of him from this point onwards).

But comedians have to deal with hecklers, right?

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that if you deliver consciously edgy material that you know is likely to cause offence, you’d better make it pretty fucking funny. And the joke that the second heckler was objecting to made the rape joke look like The Aristocrats.

The set-up was a bizarrely uncontextualised story about RDH apologising to his niece for touching her inappropriately while she was in her early teens and he was in his late teens. Punchline: she had no idea what he was talking about – hilarious! Segue to disappointing Bill Cosby gag and ZERO explanation of why RDH is not in jail.

RDH knows he’s likely to cause offence with this kind of joke (not least to victims of rape and paedophilia): he even has a bit in his show about the ‘trigger words’ that ‘set people off’. You’d have thought the least he could do would be anticipate criticism, and then deal with it calmly and appropriately – he’s the one with the power and the microphone, after all. But both hecklers last night were shut down viciously with a angry, defensive response that incited the rest of the audience to come down similarly hard on them.

At one point, I remember RDH suggesting that it was the first heckler versus the entire room (incorrect) and that this said something about the validity of her complaint (also wrong). He told the second heckler that it was people like her who made him wish he was back in Moscow (the location of a previous tour he’d joked he was sent on for bad behaviour). These lines earned him boisterous cheers, which continue on social media even now. On Twitter the hecklers have been called ‘bitches’, ‘feminazis’, ‘narrow-minded’, ‘an embarrassment’ and ‘a hindering embarrassment to women’ (that last one by RDH himself, not exactly proving himself a gent in the face of criticism). God knows what they’ll call me if they read this.

From rape joke to close of gig was an ugly spectacle that left a bitter taste in my mouth –one that’s still with me more than 12 hours later.

Why am I writing this?

I feel deeply ashamed that I was too scared to add my voice to the voices of dissent last night. I stood by while those women’s objections were ridiculed and diminished, even though I knew in my heart that they were a valid response to poorly-judged material.

I want to apologise to those two women and to anyone else who also felt too threatened to stand up and leave, or to just say: ‘Actually, I didn’t laugh at that too.’ By staying in my seat, I made it easier for people to accept that the hecklers were stupid and wrong to disagree with what RDH said, or the way he said it.

I don’t want to pick a fight with Reginald D Hunter. I’m sure if we met in person we would much to agree on and laugh about. But I also want him to know that the two women he shouted down with his microphone last night were not alone in thinking that some of the stuff he said on that stage was bullshit.

Thanks for reading.

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About Christina Kenny

Christina Kenny is a music journalist based in London.
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38 Responses to Reluctantly calling bullshit on Reginald D Hunter

  1. Tiemo Talk says:

    D for D Interesting review but highly selective and misleading review.

    Towards the end you headline a section ‘what happened last night?’ and proceed to write re two jokes. I agree with you that they were the headline scandalous jokes of the night, but they do not tell the full story of a two hour gig.
    I see things differently to you.

    What else happened?

  2. Tiemo Talk says:

    Selective and misleading review of the night. I dont agree with your assessment.

    In a 2 hour gig you distill it down to a mere two anecdotes/jokes.

  3. Hi there Tiemo. Thanks for your comments.

    Firstly, please note that this is not a review.

    Secondly, I acknowledge your comments about the ‘selective’ way I recounted the evening. You’re right in that I have not recorded exactly what happened during the rest of the gig (for example, the less provocative material or jokes I found more funny). However, I do say right at the very beginning of the post, in bold, that I enjoyed 75% – ie, the vast majority – of the set. I don’t really know how I could have been clearer about that.

    However, that it not what this post was about. As I think is clear both from the title and from my summing up section at the end, I was writing specifically about the jokes that caused offence (which, as you say, I describe) and about how uncomfortable I felt with the way that criticism was handled by both RDH and the audience.

    • EilishM says:

      Hi Christina,

      I’m so glad I found this article. That gig has been bothering me so much since I saw it. I agree completely with everything you’ve pointed out. And disagree whole-heartedly with the above commenters that say you misrepresented the rest of the night, mainly because after the way it ended I think the preamble other sections of the gig lost all conviction or comedic value. He soured the entire gig with his treatment of those ladies. It started of so promising when he instructed the person to stop restraining the lady, but it descended into chaos and ignorance when he couldn’t handle that she was entirely correct.

      I’m not a feminazi either, but that whole exchange completely overwhelmed me and I came out of there in floods of tears. And its not because of personal experiences or anything like that, the only thing in common I share with his cousin or his friend is that we are all female, and that was enough to allow for full empathy of their situations which have been trivialised down to a punchline, regardless of whether he has their permission or not.

      Thank god he ended the show when he did, the atmosphere was unbearable at that stage. Like you I felt so ashamed that I didn’t voice my opinion or support that lady other than to stop clapping RDH and to get out of there as possible. You have written the only piece that I could find on this so far that has reviewed the gig from this angle, and it is a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

  4. spirited says:

    I was at the gig on Saturday. I have never seen RDH live before so my knowledge of his work is strictly based on his milder TV work. I wasn’t offended by the jokes in question although they were definitely edgy. Had the same jokes been delivered by a different person then I might have found them offensive. The piece about his niece shows that he has reflected on his behaviour over the years and felt after all this time that it still warranted an apology. Clearly something that had been praying on his mind. We don’t know the extent of his touching so it is hard to judge whether it was a serious matter or not ( ps it’s not paedophilia if a child is post pubescent). The second joke centred on the rape of his friend. The message I took from that was that the friend ( not an ex as I recall) felt that they could tell the character of a person and he was warning that there are individuals who are opportunistic ( and you never can tell). I felt that the heckling put RDH on the back foot and his response was not as well thought out as it might be now….however it was in response to a heckle during a live show. The guy can’t stand there and be expected to provide a rationale for the entire content of the show. Like it or don’t like it, leave or stay but heckling is never going to end well. ( the most offended I’ve been at a comedian Was a guy who told a woman heckler to ” shut up slag ” in response to the mildest heckle in the world. Twat. Anyway, what I don’t like is the assumption that those comments were somehow representative of womankind or by “feminists” or any of that bull-shit. It was two individuals who happened to be women. I don’t judge the entire black community on the opinions of RDH and I expect the same courtesy back. If I had Twitter I might be conveying that directly to the man.

    • Thanks very much for commenting. I’m afraid I’m at work and don’t have time give a full response right now but I just have to challenge your assertion that ‘it’s not paedophilia if a child is post pubescent’.

      I genuinely hope this is a quibble around the terminology used to describe the vaerious types of sexual attraction to minors, as opposed rather than the offence/crime (ie hebephila vs paedophilia?)

      In this article I used the word paedophilia in its broadly-accepted sense of describing a sex crime committed against a minor.

      • Now worried I haven’t made this point seriously enough, so, just to recap: for someone ‘at the end of their teens’ (ie over 18, an adult) to inappropriately touch someone in their early teens is a serious crime regardless of the victim’s stage of physical and/or emotional development.

  5. Ohhisee says:

    I actually think your assessment of the evening was very accurate. I was at the show on Saturday night as well. Having only seen RDH on panel shows and his explanation of Cricket video, I think he was right in saying that the audience who knew him in this manner alone were in for a surprise.

    I found 75% of the show to be enjoyable – in the lukewarm, this is funny, but nothing to write home about way. Your focus on the two jokes in question is in no way skewing and misrepresenting the evening – when it boils down to it, those are the only “jokes” that matter anymore. The way the show deteriorated was surreal to say the least.

    When the first joke (brought up by the second woman) happened, I had a hard time digesting it. Did he mean that he sexually assaulted his young teenage relative? I initially chalked it up to be a poorly (very poorly) executed Bill Cosby reference. When the second joke, The Rape Joke, occurred it became very apparent that violence / assault / rape against women was the punchline.

    What I find most disconcerting is that RDH made these jokes, and then said the words “I am on your side.” He became irate and flustered which rendered him incapable of finishing his show. He was in a huff about these woman having dared to question him. He insinuated they were over-reacting (or “reactionary” as he said about 10 times), and unintelligent. Of course you don’t get the rape joke – you are too unintelligent!

    The sad thing is that he does not realise how hypocritical he is for having made those jokes; how ironic (not to mention horrifying) it was to hear a woman being physically stifled for speaking out against him about sexual abuse. Had he followed his own advice and “acknowledged the mistake and apologised” (that is verbatim what he said), rather than undermine and demean the only two woman in the audience with any courage, things would have turned out differently for him. Instead, he has now revealed himself as a “reactionary,” and a misogynist.

    Almost as unnerving and upsetting as his jokes and behaviour was the mob-like mentality of the audience who laughed at those jokes and cheered when he said he would “rather be in fucking Moscow right now.” If those 1100 audience members are a sample of the population, I feel very, very sad about the world indeed.

    • Hello, again sorry for brevity, but thank you so much for commenting. It is great to read that someone else can back up my version of events, and you also make several points that I didn’t include in my post – like the fact he felt he had to explain the rape joke (because THAT was the problem). Like you, I also felt very disturbed by the aggrieved ‘I am on your side’ comment, which was compounded by RDH’s statement later on Twitter that the hecklers were ‘an embarrassing hindrance to women’. Quite a big statement for him to make on my behalf.

  6. martin norris says:

    Hi
    I was at the final gig in Brighton the following night. How that show ended made me search around and i came across your review of the London show.
    Now I can understand comedians making jokes about taboo subjects to make a point – and in fairness he does this very well with racism. His BBC American South series was brilliant; warm, insightful and full of humanity.
    As on the previous night, in Brighton at least one member in the audience shouted out at the ‘rape’ joke and judging by the awkward laughter many other people there were trying to contextualise it and also failed. He did engage with the complainant – I couldn’t hear the exchange but it didn’t appear to be too favourable to her opinion. He wasn’t rude, asked and listened to her point – but didn’t offer a convincing explanation. Someone else also made a vocal comment around that point in the set.
    Now the joke about molesting his relative – he delivered the punchline and then moved on and people didn’t know how to take it. Didn’t make a reference to it again. Same with the rape joke – what was the point he was trying to make. Okay – he had said earlier that all rape was to be reported and, duh – that some people try to take advantage. Is that enough context to then make rape jokes without any other comment or point ? I don’t think thats enough and I didn’t feel that the audience thought so either.
    He then spent the last 10 minutes of the show apparently speaking off the cuff about the London show and the ‘heckling’. It was a really awkward finale – not the end of tour celebration it should have been. He left the stage and the applause died very quickly leaving just a rather subdued and uncomfortable atmosphere. People just seemed rather puzzled at the turn that the night took.
    He was clearly bothered by the response in London and Brighton. I am surprised that the issues around the material had not surfaced earlier in the tour – maybe he had missed out part of the routine those nights which would have made his points clearer ?

  7. [anonymous] says:

    What I found objectionable was not the reaction: if you don’t like what was said, blog about it, as you have. Or write to the papers. Or write in the papers. But please don’t disrupt the evening, as you haven’t, but others did who you say you regret not supporting.

    Would you interrupt a solo piano performance because you thought the tempo was not true to the composer’s intentions? Or let your phone ring, and bring the performance to a halt? Or heckle in an opera because you found the staging controversial? Ok, I have to admit that news reports say that some did exactly that at Covent Garden last night. But generally, it would be considered immensely discourteous to the rest of the audience.

    I have intentionally allowed several days to pass before posting this note, but I am still spitting tacks at the spoiling of what I paid for and had looked forward to for months. Your reacting not at the time, but in writing later, is a correct behaviour, and not one over which to flagellate yourself.

    • Ohhisee says:

      This is the most asinine comment yet. Comparing a stand up comedy show to the opera or a soloists performance is completely nonsensical, and self-serving to your argument. Do opera singers and solo pianists also contribute to rape culture while they are performing?

      Frankly, the fact that you are worked up over your night being ruined due to those women taking offence makes me think you should re-evaluate your priorities and your lack of empathy. I intentionally sat on this over night to ensure I wasn’t being “reactionary” to your comment, but it was still stupid in the morning when I woke up. Good thing this is the internet and I didn’t miss my chance to question you like those women would have had they not spoken up then and there.

      I’ll leave you with this to mull over: the things that keep men like yourself up at night include poor value for money and bad investments like their seemingly ‘ruined’ comedic experiences. What keeps women like myself up at night is past sexual assault and the threat of it happening again. But your £25 is more important than that, obviously.

      • [anonymous] says:

        For me, an RDH evening is more like a piano performance than stand up comedy because it moves me, which is why I have a strong urge to attend. What does the moving is his wililngness to say things that other people consider unsayable, and the contrast between his personal courage and my own. It is this emotion that I mourn, not £25.

      • Reader says:

        (Well… The London Opera just went through toning down a performance of Guilleme Tell due to a rape scene, so perhaps I wouldn’t call the writer ‘asinine’ for the specific comparison. And I am often amazed at how non-comics view what we consider art. But that’s not what I want to contribute to this article. )

        This was an interesting read, and I should disclose, that I am a Stand Up ‘Artist’. I also consider myself a friend of Mr. Hunter, and am a fan of the bulk of his work. However, I am not familiar with this show, I wasn’t there, and what you’ve described as a journalist and a feminist, I’m glad to read.
        I am familiar with one of the jokes you mentioned about his friend who didn’t report the sexual assault. He has been doing it for years, that of course doesn’t excuse anything. And I think maybe that is the problem.
        The times have changed. I know that that joke was originally crafted to reflect, and re-enforce the importance of why it’s important to report sex assault and rape. And why as awful as the experience is, it’s a duty to other women and society to make sure rapists are prosecuted. And the shocking twist at the end was a memorable theatre to show the monster behind the door of friendship where most assaults occur. I actually found it a complex and daring piece when I first saw it many years ago. When there wasn’t very much discussion of these very topics on the comedy stage. I was all lucky to see the mostly feminine compliments after that show and the personal stories they shared with Reg about their experiences of assault. I remember being impressed as how someone could create a force for good in comedy, changing lives. And it in turn challenged me to be a better more thoughtful comic.
        Now what you’ve described sounds not so good. And I think maybe that’s because there is far more discussion in public about these issues, and now, what was once a trailblazing piece is now a voice in a pantheon of concern about the new voice of feminist and humanist issues where we all feel uncomfortable with the ideas of punching down, but more often than not project extra protection on satire for those we empathise with. Which isn’t in any way a bad thing, but it doesn’t accurately reflect the intent. And it is probably why he seemed frustrated as you described when heckled.
        Which brings me to the next point I wanted to address. You have described what I think was awful to me, and any reader, the story of a woman physically assaulted for speaking in the crowd. Now, I am not a fan of hecklers. Mainly because most comedy comes from a surprise reveal or twist, and interrupting something you don’t like doesn’t serve anyone’s purpose, because more often than not, comics will use examples of things they disagree with or hate as an artificial lure in the opposite direction in order to hide the reveal. And that reveal can be bigger than one or two jokes, especially on the building of a character learning curve, and that character can be the comic themselves slowly discovering what’s wrong with an earlier joke. Stewart Lee, Stephen Colbert, and myself do this, and I’ve seen Reg do it. But after being heckled, you simply can’t. The ability to redirect, and analyse your own education on a topic is destroyed by the external mid understanding… Sorry that was a long winded explanation, but nessasary.
        Now this woman being physically subdued is a story, and I wouldn’t mind you finding out who the guy was who was assaulting her in public, that would be some great journalism. But, I don’t fully see why that asshole and his behaviour has anything to do with Reg who in no way would be able to be aware of what’s going on in the room.
        This is a contentious and powerful issue, and quite the read for first thing in the morning. And I think most everyone wants to see comedy that punches up, especially me. And I don’t doubt there was offense, and I also wouldn’t argue that the peice( the only one I know, I can’t comment on the other ones) could seem callous especially now in the present zeitgeist or if it was an off delivery( which happens to the best comics, when they drop or forget a part of the set up). But if you step back and look at the body of his work, isn’t it easy to kinda see that he wants you to think, wants you to question the uncomfortable corners of your brain and put a small pause before reacting. That’s always been what I saw in him, that even if I disagree with a point, I’m left thinking about it, and recognising its complexity. And ultimately I’d rather have more of that in comedy than ‘ooh what’s in the kitchen drawer’ shit that is 95% of the comedy scene.
        Thank you for this piece though, I enjoyed it.
        I hope maybe my insight adds something. If not, no worries.

  8. Tiemo Talk says:

    @Spirited & David C. I agree. Well said.

  9. Tiemo Talk says:

    Martin Norris – What was the “niece” punchline? The London audience on Saturday night never heard it because he got side-tracked by a heckler.

    I too am surprised these issues haven’t surfaced before too. I will look around to see what other reviews have been written re the tour. Maybe this is him road testing new material for his new tour starting next month and D for D wont like this title as it’s called “Bitchproof.”

    I agree too that this was a sad way to end the tour.

    • The ‘niece’ punchline WAS heard on Saturday night. It was attacked by the heckler long after RDH had moved on to other material. I even relate the punchline in the post above.

      The story ended with the niece listening to his apology, then telling RDH that she had no memory of the abuse. The punchline was that the media furore over the Bill Cosby rape allegations had ‘got black comedians scared’.

      It’s not funny, because, uncontextualised as it was, the joke was describing sexual assault. For a person in their late teens to inappropriately touch a child in their early teens is a serious crime.

  10. Tiemo Talk says:

    @D for D (Christina kenny) – Thanks for your response. I still say your blog was misleading.
    You say you did not write a review. I agree. So if so why the headline: “So what the fuck happened at Reginald D Hunter last night?” Which implies a review! If it’s not then it’s highly selective reporting.

    You said you liked 75% of the show but say nothing whatsoever about the content of the majority funny stuff in the show. And you wonder why people may think you have an agenda.

    “There was a rape joke. It wasn’t very funny.” This is patently not true as in your own “non review” you said,” the majority of the audience laughed.” Clearly the joke was very funny. Whether or not RDH was right to make a joke out of the situation or not is another matter and is up for debate, but funny is funny isn’t it?

    “I felt extremely confused and uncomfortable.“ Perhaps that was RDH’s intention.

    The worst part is the heckler being assaulted. I never knew that or saw that. That’s awful. Do you think the man knew her or was it a stranger? Notwithstanding that, it’s funny how you write a whole “non review” re a man merely doing his job telling jokes but don’t attack in print the man who actually carried out an assault right in front of you. What did you do other than write an article about it? Did you intervene, call security, call the police?

    “As a rule, I don’t tend to cry at comedy gigs. So the fact that tears of rage and frustration were rolling down my cheeks within two minutes of the first heckle might give a clue as to how violent these exchanges were: both the exchange that had happened in the stalls and the angry shutting down from the stage that both hecklers were subjected to by RDH (or ‘the man with the microphone’, as I thought of him from this point onwards).”

    Misleading again. Well the assault in the stalls may be true, but RDH did not angrily shut down both hecklers. Yes he was visibly angry AFTER he had explained himself. The audience tried to shut the women down but he in fact urged them to let them speak and be heard. They did and he provided a full and respectful response to them explaining the jokes and that he’d sought permission to tell them in public. That’s not an angry shutting down. I do agree he seemed to close the show rather abruptly soon after that (it was near the end anyway) but I sensed it was an earlier than planned finish and not the finale he intended for such a prestigious end of tour show.

    “At one point, I remember RDH suggesting that it was the first heckler versus the entire room (incorrect) and that this said something about the validity of her complaint (also wrong). “

    I have to disagree again with this entirely. It did seem like the Apollo v the two women. Why? Because the audience came to see and hear RDH not two random hecklers contributing in an unfunny, disruptive way just because they didn’t get the joke +/or just didn’t appreciate it. I’ve read RDH’s twitter responses. They are unfailingly polite and respectful even in the face of goading by critics. The “a hindering embarrassment to women” comment is hardly insult of the century and judging by the attempts by the audience to shut them down many would agree with RDH’s assessment.

    Summary

    I just don’t agree with your assessment that some of the stuff he said on stage was bullshit. It was edgy, risky, offensive to some of course (including me at times) and obviously if one has been raped or sexually abused I’d not expect you to find that funny … then again some may do … not for me to second guess their opinion, but that doesn’t mean the subject can’t be tackled. Whether or not RDH or anyone tells such jokes/anecdotes isn’t going to end rape and abuse, anymore than it is going to lead to an increase in it. The point is he’s using his license as a comedian to stir a debate. He’s a deep thinker and doesn’t do silly, lightweight comedy material, hence my criticism in my review that this incident perhaps exposed him as not being a natural comedian, lacking in the lighter touch material and the ability to be sidetracked and then go back to the joke in hand.

    Despite the fact we disagree on quite a bit (well apart from the 75% of the show that you liked LOL) I did really enjoy your write up and the fact you took the trouble to do so. It does get you thinking about “rape jokes.” I’ve not heard many before and understood there’s a surplus of them on the comedy circuit which many women are up in arms about, so it’d good to have a think on this and discuss it. It does make one wonder why people would choose to do such edgy material, but there you go, each to his own.

    My comprehensive review of the same show can be read and commented upon if you or anyone else is would like to do so.

    https://tiemotalkofthetown.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/controversial-finale-to-reginald-d-hunter-tour-as-comedian-enrages-feminists/

    • – It’s not a review. I’m really not sure why you’re so resistant to this idea. Plus, I don’t need to write about the 75% of the show I enjoyed. I’m the author and I decide what to write about. I don’t have a duty to you or to anyone, apart from perhaps the two women I wrote this post for.

      – A majority of the people doing something does not make that thing right. And it doesn’t mean that people who dissent are wrong.

      – I find your suggestion that I ‘don’t attack’ the man who assaulted the heckler somewhat confusing. You know from your careful study of my piece that I was six rows back, and that I was so shocked by it that I began to cry. Do either of those facts contribute to an understanding of how it might have been difficult to ‘intervene’ – or my feelings towards the assailant?

      Please take a minute to consider also that a good few members of the audience you seem to venerate so much were on the side of the assailant – laughing and cheering him on when they saw what was happening. These were part of the same group of people who, for you, are the arbiters of what is ‘funny’.

      As it happened I spoke to the woman after the show as she was talking to security. As a result I know things about the incident that I have chosen not to publish here because of my concern for her safety and security.

      – RDH did not provide a ‘full and respectful’ response to the hecklers. This is simply untrue. Furthermore, I am surprised that are happy to align the insult ‘an embarrassing hindrance to women’ with being ‘unfailingly polite and respectful’. Needless to say, I disagree.

      – It was by no means a case of The Apollo vs. the two women. I have received messages via emails and Twitter from people at the event saying that they were also appalled by what they saw.

  11. Tiemo Talk says:

    An alternative review of the same show inlcuding the 75% of the show not covered in Christina Kenny’s review. Feel free to read and commented upon if you would like to do so.

    https://tiemotalkofthetown.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/controversial-finale-to-reginald-d-hunter-tour-as-comedian-enrages-feminists/

    • martin norris says:

      Tiemo
      As the OP put it:

      “The set-up was a bizarrely uncontextualised story about RDH apologising to his niece for touching her inappropriately while she was in her early teens and he was in his late teens. Punchline: she had no idea what he was talking about – hilarious! ”

      My recollection – ( and I may be paraphrasing slightly) “she said ‘I have NO idea what you are talking about’.”
      He then moved on with another subject without any further reference. It was just rather odd.

  12. Tiemo Talk says:

    @Ohhisee – I totally disagree with you. David C and everyone else is entitled to criticise the spoiling of the show by the hecklers. It was not an asinine comment. RDH did not contribute to rape culture, whatever that is, anymore than an opera singer or pianist. The opera story was front page of Wednesday’s Evening Standard and the Director has firmly stated that it is not a children’s show and therefore the rape scene will be staying in. Countless soap opera’s, TV dramas and films over the years have featured rapes, so why shouldn’t Stand Up Comedians be allowed to feature rape in their shows? They aren’t encouraging or condoning rape. RDH certainly wasn’t.

    “What keeps women like myself up at night is past sexual assault and the threat of it happening again. But your £25 is more important than that, obviously.”

    Very sorry to hear you’ve been raped. RDH didn’t know that. Are you suggesting he should edit his show of material that might offend someone in the audience who happens to have a negative personal experience of topics he’s going to discuss? By that token I presume you would argue that he shouldn’t talk about racism, tax and financial problems, relationship break ups etc… for fear of offending those who’ve been through similar bad experiences.

  13. Tiemo Talk says:

    Martin Norris & CK – Thanks. OK I Did hear the punchline re “Ok nothing happened, let’s move on/” I don’t remember the Bill Cosby comment. Point is, I thought there was more to come and I recall him being heckled right after that and then just moving on.

    Re what happened. He didn’t say so it’s hard to deduce isn’t it? That the niece can’t recall it at all indicates it probably wasn’t anything substantial and in fact for her was utterly forgettable.

    • Or, like many victims of sexual assault, she had suppressed the memory. But hey, the joke was SO poorly delivered and contextualised we’ll never know!

      • Spirited says:

        They’re not trolling you they just don’t agree with you. It’s ok to disagree. You didn’t agree with RDH and you’ve expressed your views here. It’s fine that people don’t agree with each other. Ultimately this is about words spoken….there are absolutely worse things to get upset about.

  14. Tiemo Talk says:

    @ Christina Kenny – This stuff about it not being a review is utterly ridiculous and I won’t further elaborate on my earlier comments. I do agree that it’s not a review for it’s selective reporting of the bits you want to report on. People complain that some of the jokes were un-contextualised. So is your selective blog on 2 x jokes representing around 10mins at most of a near 2 hour show.

    You say at the end please don’t call me names, yet your headline insulted RDH calling his show “bullshit”. Hypocritical in the extreme.

    “I find your suggestion that I ‘don’t attack’ the man who assaulted the heckler somewhat confusing. You know from your careful study of my piece that I was six rows back, and that I was so shocked by it that I began to cry. Do either of those facts contribute to an understanding of how it might have been difficult to ‘intervene’ – or my feelings towards the assailant?”

    I fully understand your immediate response. However you were writing after the event not in the heat of the moment. Furthermore you’ve had plenty of time since the incident to attack the aggressor in print and you have chosen not to instead attacking RDH for simply telling jokes. You probably think RDH’s friend should have reported the rape. You report that you witnessed a physical assault. Did you report it?

    Please take a minute to consider also that a good few members of the audience you seem to venerate so much were on the side of the assailant – laughing and cheering him on when they saw what was happening. These were part of the same group of people who, for you, are the arbiters of what is ‘funny’.

    I didn’t know that. Any heckler is going to get rough treatment normally from the comedian – I’ve seen far worse from Comedians. I’d not expect or welcome the hands over the mouth to silence her, but the fact people were laughing and cheering indicates clearly that in spite of that, she upset a lot of people (including I presume her assailant who I’m guessing is her boyfriend). So no I don’t accept in the slightest what you’re implying that she had a lot of support at the venue for her view. She didn’t. People came to see RDH not hear unfunny hecklers trying to ruin the show.

    You said “RDH did not provide a ‘full and respectful’ response to the hecklers.”

    This is simply untrue. “Furthermore, I am surprised that are happy to align the insult ‘an embarrassing hindrance to women’ with being ‘unfailingly polite and respectful’. Needless to say, I disagree.”

    He did provide a full and respectful response. Please, please stop misleading readers. If he did please quote what he said on stage which contradicts that. Please also quote what he posted on social media which contradicts that. I do agree with you that the hindrance comment was a little rude, but as I said yesterday it’s hardly insult of the century. As I wrote in my review the reason she’s a “hindrance and embarrassment to women” is because she didn’t get the joke so made herself look a fool. The Apollo in the main were vocally or silently totally against her intervention.

    • *wipes tears from eyes*

      Thanks for the laughs!

      I LOVE that you think I should reported the assault to security, after I told you I spoke to the victim WHILE SHE WAS TALKING TO THEM.

      I LOVE that you feel able to make predictions about my feelings towards rape victims! Unfortunately you’re wrong – unlike RDH, I would never tell a rape victim that she had to report it – or that if she didn’t, it would mean other women get raped because THAT IS VICTIM-BLAMING. Women get raped because men rape them!

      Obviously I loved the part where you’re STILL upset that my report didn’t come with an H3 title in Comic Sans saying ‘Assaulting women is bad’.

      But I especially loved the last part about the heckler just not understanding the joke.

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      Maybe you should re-explain the joke to her?

      Maybe she’ll laugh when she understands it!

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      I’m done feeding the troll.

      • Lil ms integrity says:

        Christina thank you so much for you views. I am so grateful for the fact that at least 1 woman finally understood the context of this JOKE . I have not spoken in person to RDH since a friend first heard the joke and informed me of RDH’s disrespectful airing, usage and apparent contempt of our somewhat distorted yet private conversation. When I attempted to address my intense distress at his contempt for our friendship with my ex. friend RDH I too was bullied and intellectually intimidated into making a submissive statement in the realms of “just go ahead and continue telling the joke if you really feel the need too”. A statememt which has been interpreted by RDH as OKing the joke. His career does seems to have taken a dip in recent years as has my mental health each time his need to perpetuate his sadistic misogeny, lack of loyalty and compassion in the name of a good joke. I wonder why?

  15. Hey,

    I’m glad you addressed the two jokes in question. I am a woman and went with a female friend. We had very different reactions to both jokes. I found them funny and thought provoking, she found them offensive and very unfunny.

    Regardless of my reaction to the jokes (yes, I was made uncomfortable about the first one which hardly got a laugh) I disagree about your assessment of RDH’s response to the hecklers. When describing the rape joke you forgot to mention that he prefaced it by saying it offended people but that he would “keep telling the joke until people laughed”. His response to the heckler was, I thought, appropriate… he did not say he had cleared the joke with her but rather with the niece (though I am positive that he would clear that joke as well). Quickly the second heckler TRIED to voice her opinion and was forcibly stopped by a companion. I was sitting completely on the other side and could hear this–I was angered that someone would ever dare prevent someone from speaking that I almost stood up then to march over so that she could have her say. RDH insisted she be allowed to speak which you didn’t mention. He surely knew she didn’t have something nice to say. Her objection was couched in a clearly personal language– she insisted the girl was 14 several times which RDH clarified his niece was not and that no penetration had occurred (this doesn’t make his actions any less wrong and I am equally shocked by any behaviour where someone is taken advantage of). the heckler was clearly upset and did not find the joke funny. there is no doubt of that and she has every right to be upset and even angry. However I think that the joke would have had a different response if it had been told in the United States and RDH home country (I’m American for context). Bill Crosby is a much loved American comedic icon. He has been rightly pulled down and condemned for behaviour that is not at all acceptable and should be taken seriously. RDH’s confession and desire to make amends was dismissed by his victim, she didn’t remember the incident and joked that he was making a mountain out of a mole hill because of recent media coverage of another black male comic. (Imagine having your most sincere apology and confession being brushed aside!).

    My issue with your re-telling of the heckling is that RDH seems as uncomfortable with the jokes as we are. It takes a lot of guts to open up to all these strangers with jokes that put him in the role of the ‘villain’. Catharsis is a big part of comedy as well as tragedy. By telling these jokes he not only has to face the judgment of the people watching the show but also of himself. It takes bravery and I respect that.

    He also raises issues that are important. As we know most people are abused by those close to them. Whatever the level of the abuse, whether it is inappropriate touch or further, most abusers never apologise or come clean. They either are repeat offenders or keep it to themselves. It is uncomfortable and awful to hear about the abuse of a child, especially by someone who is close to that child (and yes I do see someone in their early teens as a child) but to hear guilt, to hear remorse and to hear about trying to make amends in such a public place deserves a level of respect.

    The rape joke is different. I laughed because a male friend has made a similar comment to me… I have not been raped by the way but have had unwanted advances. He told me to never assume my safety even from those closest and best known to me. When I said I can tell he emphasised that I couldn’t. To hear that as a joke rather than a serious conversation–and let’s be honest I’m sure the tone and timing were very different when the encounter first happened!!!– was a relief and quite cathartic knowing that I am not the only one who takes my instinct in male behaviour for granted.

    You didn’t find the jokes funny. Neither did my friend or many of the women in the audience. I also know you didn’t find them respectful or sensitive to women who have been assaulted. I respect that. But I also respect RDH for exposing himself to comment and criticism.

    apologies for the length of this! I found I had more to say and in a subtler way than initially thought.

  16. tbird03 says:

    Hi all. I was there, and obviously have been thinking about this for some time. I have enjoyed RDH’s humor, and was very much looking forward to the show. As reported, the vast majority of the show was fantastic. The problem I see with the above, is that the two ‘jokes’ in question were not jokes at all. Yes, perhaps RDH was ‘courageous’ enough to expose himself as a possible rapist and a pedophile, but it still isn’t a joke (much less funny). That was the problem – to the extent there was a ‘joke,’ it was a joke on the women involved in the events. That they were powerless and admitted to it. As @Christina originally said, that’s not funny – it’s criminal.

    This is not about men or women, or how either deal with ‘edgy’ humor. RDH said some disgusting things in those few minutes – that was what ruined the show. Not the people who had the courage to speak-up.

    The fact is that people in our society (be it the UK, the US or anywhere else) tend to respect those who ‘have the micorphone.’ If you paid your GBP for the ticket, you are inclined to agree with what is being said, and – for a comedy show – assume that what is being said is or should be funny. You are there because you want to laugh. At the same time, we are putting trust in RDH to deliver funny material in a responsible way – not to make light of horrible behavior to the extent that it desensitizes us to the reality of that horror.

    So, for those of you were there and laughed and that have been defending RDH, please do take some time and go back to hear what he actualy said during this show. If you saw it played on the BBC, I would imagine your opinion would be considerably different than what has been stated on this thread. It’s human to enagege in this kind of ‘group-think,’ but we all should also open our minds to accept when we have fallen into this trap. As history has proven, this can be incredibly dangerous.

    I am sure no one who was at the theartre that night would condone rape or pedophelia. That being said, I am happy to know that there are some who have the perspective and the gumption to stand up against this and remind us that we are all responsible to set the tone for what is and is not acceptable in our society.

  17. Tiemo Talk says:

    @D for D – Glad you are amused. And to think you didn’t even have to pay for the laughs!

    What was the point of saying women don’t HAVE to report rape? I agree with you that it’s entirely up to them. That’s exactly the position RDH’s friend took. So after all this back and forth, we’re all in agreement! Happy families 🙂

    Re laughing at the comment that the heckler didn’t get the joke. That’s up to you, but the clear point and fact is that it was a joke. Most of the near 4,000 audience laughed so obviously something was funny in the punchline to the serious story. I accept not everyone found the joke funny. That’s fine.

    Re calling me a troll. Utter nonsense. Thanks for your supportive comment Spirited. I am a Blogger who has chosen to comment on a fellow Bloggers blog, so calling me a troll is a bit uncalled for, but fair enough when the argument’s lost people find it easier to throw out insults than discuss sensibly. Further, it’s a bit rich of you to insult me like that when the title of your blog basically insults RDH and your opening paragraphs begs people not to insult you !!

    We’ve all had a good, productive, fairly respectful debate here. I’ve enjoyed it, so well done you for creating this discussion.

  18. Tiemo Talk says:

    @ Greymatterpart1 and tbird03 – I like your considered comments. Will respond later.

  19. tbird03 says:

    @Timeo, I look forward to receiving your comments, and we can all thank D for D for providing us with this opportunity to exchange views. Before you comment again, please do look on YouTube as to what was actually said during the show. Quite honestly, I am known for my ridiculous (and irrevert) sense of humor – as is my wife. That’s why we were there and why we both enjoyed so much of the show. That being said, we were both shocked and saddened by what happened at the Apollo with those two ‘jokes.’ They weren’t ‘edgy,’ they were asinine.

    They didn’t make sense, they weren’t funny. Just because people laughed, doesn’t make them funny. If you polled those (4,000 – did you say) people, and replayed the ‘jokes’ for them, I would guess that not a one would stand-up to defend either of them. If they did, then our society is in a horrible state.

    It seems quite apparent that you were one of those who laughed at these comments. I am not attacking you or the others who did. Quite to the contrary, I am just trying to point-out that our favorite TV stars, comedians, musicians, politicians, etc. may say things that we would be inclined to agree with – but we still have to evaluate those statements with our own moral compass. They are human as well, and sometimes they get it wrong. As did RDH on that night.

    Thanks again to D for D.

  20. Tiemo Talk says:

    @ Greymatterpart1 – Thanks for that long and thoughtful contribution to the discussion. No need to apologise for the length of it. Sometimes it’s necessary.

    I agree with much of what you say, particularly that it took guts and bravery to talk about those two issues on stage. Yes, re the first story it was hard to know what to make of it, especially as he was interrupted towards the conclusion of the story so we may not have heard the ending as it should have been conveyed. Maybe the story wasn’t thrown in for laughs and after all RDH is known for throwing in serious stuff, without particularly looking for jokes and laughter. For me, the fact the person couldn’t remember whatever it is RDH felt he had to apologise for diminished the importance of whatever it was. It clearly wasn’t memorable and left no lasting impact. The age gap at the time of the story was 4 years, so not huge. Not saying unimportant or that 14:18 isn’t significant. Regardless we don’t know what it’s about, but it hints at something. Everyone’s moved on.

    “He also raises issues that are important. As we know most people are abused by those close to them … but to hear guilt, to hear remorse and to hear about trying to make amends in such a public place deserves a level of respect… I also respect RDH for exposing himself to comment and criticism.”

    Agreed. RDH is not one for playing safe, banal comedy, so you go to a show expecting that you might have your preconceptions and ideas challenged. As I said earlier, I am quite clear that RDH was not saying child abuse or rape is funny at all, it’s just that he added an amusing punch line to the anecdotes. That’s what comedians do and it’s something people often do in “real life” to lighten the mood and cheer someone up. This isn’t exclusive to those who earn their living on stage.

  21. Tiemo Talk says:

    @tbird03 – “As reported, the vast majority of the show was fantastic. The problem I see with the above, is that the two ‘jokes’ in question were not jokes at all. Yes, perhaps RDH was ‘courageous’ enough to expose himself as a possible rapist and a pedophile, but it still isn’t a joke (much less funny). That was the problem – to the extent there was a ‘joke,’ it was a joke on the women involved in the events. That they were powerless and admitted to it. As @Christina originally said, that’s not funny – it’s criminal.”

    I don’t agree with this. In the first, the “joke/story” was on him as he got himself all worked up for the big apology and the person couldn’t even remember what on earth he was referring to!

    Secondly, the “rape joke” was against him not the woman. Again, it was a quick witted, throwaway line said in jest at the time. All he’s done, assuming the story is true and not made up, is retell the story.

    “This is not about men or women, or how either deal with ‘edgy’ humor. RDH said some disgusting things in those few minutes – that was what ruined the show. Not the people who had the courage to speak-up.”

    I have to disagree. I don’t think he did. In the first, he alluded to something, but whatever it was we can only presume it was fairly minor in the grand scheme of things and not sexual abuse in the horrific way we’ve been hearing about in recent years. If it was that’s not the sort of thing a “victim” would forget in a hurry.

    Re the second, yes the story was horrible, but I don’t recall him going through any gory details.
    “If you paid your GBP for the ticket, you are inclined to agree with what is being said, and – for a comedy show – assume that what is being said is or should be funny. You are there because you want to laugh. At the same time, we are putting trust in RDH to deliver funny material in a responsible way – not to make light of horrible behavior to the extent that it desensitizes us to the reality of that horror.”

    As stated in my earlier response people don’t go to a RDH show just expecting belly laugh after belly laugh. There’s always serious, thought provoking and uncomfortable moments in the show. Especially one of nearly 2 hours duration. It’s his stock in trade. No-one’s desensitized to the horrors of the matters he discussed as he wasn’t making light of them. He said nothing to indicate he was giving anyone the green light for people to go out and sexually abuse / rape someone so no one should get that idea from this discussion. It would be to completely misrepresent the anecdote.

    “So, for those of you were there and laughed and that have been defending RDH, please do take some time and go back to hear what he actualy said during this show. If you saw it played on the BBC, I would imagine your opinion would be considerably different than what has been stated on this thread.”

    I have and if it was on TV or You Tube my mind would not be changed. I did search for it but couldn’t find it. If you have it please post here or send it it to me via my Blog so I can re-watch and reconsider it. Who knows I might change my mind.

    This is fascinating. If people were offended by these anecdotes what will they make of his un-controversially titled new show commencing this month “Bitchproof”? Maybe he was road testing those stories for this show.

    In closing, I would say you are suggesting censorship which I don’t agree with in this case. I’m not against it in fact, but not for these stories. I think there’s a danger some people are forgetting it’s a comedy show and these are just jokes/stories. They may be all made up for all we know. That’s what comedians do after all. Out of context things can sound unfunny, but you can’t deny that people in the majority laughed so it’s funny whether or not you think the public should be laughing or not.

    https://tiemotalkofthetown.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/controversial-finale-to-reginald-d-hunter-tour-as-comedian-enrages-feminists/

    • Lil ms integrity says:

      Christina thank you so much for you views. I am so grateful for the fact that at least 1 woman finally understood the context of this JOKE . I have not spoken in person to RDH since a friend first heard the joke and informed me of RDH’s disrespectful airing, usage and apparent contempt of our somewhat distorted yet private conversation. When I attempted to address my intense distress at his contempt for our friendship with my ex. friend RDH I too was bullied and intellectually intimidated into making a submissive statement in the realms of “just go ahead and continue telling the joke if you really feel the need too”. A statememt which has been interpreted by RDH as OKing the joke. His career does seems to have taken a dip in recent years as has my mental health each time his need to perpetuate his sadistic misogeny, lack of loyalty and compassion in the name of a good joke. I wonder why?

  22. Jo says:

    Almost 2 years after this was published I went to see RDH live in a small venue in Scotland. He ended on the exact same joke. For me it was an unfortunate end to an otherwise very funny set. Left a very bitter taste and I wished I spoke up at the time to say #notfunny. I thought it was maybe a test run of new material for the Ed Fringe. Disappointed to see the” joke” has been said a few times already

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