Reginald D Hunter: On My Culture Radar
Comedian on ‘the Dantean hell’ of Nicolas Winding Refn, Billions star Dan Soder and more
Reginald D Hunter: ‘Anybody on the planet making food worth anything is making it in New York.’
Current favourite book?
I’m currently reading Cross Dog Blues by Richard M Brock. It’s something I grabbed from a stack of unread books I’ve collected over the years. It tells in part the coming of age of a young black blues man in a violent Mississippi and relates to a young man of Irish descent coming of the same age in a slightly different Deep South. As often is the case with books like this, the depiction of southern racial violence feels stunningly accurate. But everything else around it feels slightly off-key. I’ll have to go deeper into the text to determine if this is me or the book.
Dan Soder. I was being interviewed alongside him on a BBC radio show without even realising who he was. He’s an ensemble cast member of one of my current favourite TV series, Billions. It turns out he’s a very funny unpretentious stand-up comedian. I dare say in a different reality we might be chums – it’s so much easier being chums with other comedians that genuinely make you laugh.
I’m off to New York again soon, to be re-baptised in that sauce one more time – I do a comedy pilgrimage to New York every 10 years or so. Something about being in the city for at least four days reawakens my ability to laterally edit whilst on stage. The result is I’m five to 10 seconds quicker in almost every area of my life. That, and the food is second to none. Anybody on the planet making food worth anything is making it in New York.
I’m currently entranced by the American composer Moondog (Louis Thomas Hardin). I mean, who wouldn’t want to listen to the music of a blind musician who walks the streets of New York dressed as a damn Viking? What was the proof that he wasn’t a Viking? None that he could see.
Michael Shannon, who’s been in Boardwalk Empire and Nocturnal Animals, is likely my favourite actor. He’s probably been so for the last seven years. Anything he is in, no matter how good or bad a production, has a chance. No actor communicates restrained redistributed justified rage better than him. Coming from an America that glorifies the excess of rage, the articulation of the experience of it, while exhibiting the restraint of the action of it, has always been a fascinating tension to me. I haven’t enjoyed an American actor’s range of rage since De Niro.
I can’t say that I’m yet devoted to any one podcast, though I respect, admire and have enjoyed many. I probably most listen to the Jimmy Dore Show on YouTube. Apart from his caustically smart observations of the American political left, he has a familiar soothing American impishness, that for some reason has a pleasant odd calming effect on me.
Though I’ve only seen one episode, Too Old To Die Young by Nicolas Winding Refn is a gripping, moody, deliberate piece of . . . something. Typically with Refn, it’s lit beautifully, in neon eighties film noir, and it’s shot with a stillness that portends some emotionally, and quite possibly physically, apocalyptic event drifting our way. But the real standout for me is Miles Teller. Something about him strikes me as hardboiled and Paul Newman-esqe. After my worldly comedic chores are done for a while, I think I will resume my descent into the Dantean hell of Refn.
S Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99. I won’t say what it is about because I didn’t know anything about it in advance and if I had, I might not have watched it. I feel a gratitude when a bias I have is completely subverted. I’m slow to recommend this film because of a prejudice I have of action films and serious adult drama. Despite this and a lifelong indifference to Vince Vaughn, I simply loved this straight-ahead, smartly-written and extremely violent meathead romp of honour. Also, this movie made me want to work out again. Vince Vaughn is a hell of a man.
Reginald D Hunter brings his show Facing the Beast…and Niggas! to Dundalk, Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, Drogheda, Letterkenny, Sligo, Westport, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Dublin and Belfast from Tuesday, October 15th to Monday, October 28th