Reginald D Hunter

Is it okay to use 'the N word' in Belfast? David McLaughlin finds out

Perhaps it's the recent swarm of controversy surrounding his use of 'the N word' on his tour Pride & Prejudice & Niggas, or his ever-increasing presence as a panellist on household TV favourites such as Have I Got News For You and Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

Either way, Reginald D Hunter has packed the punters in tonight.

Contending for our approval first is cutesy Geordie-lass Sarah Milligan. Looking like butter wouldn’t melt, she tamely takes to the makeshift stage in flowery frock and NHS specs, immediately disarming the audience of all preconceptions.

Her timid voice vies for attention among the chattering din but within the first few punchlines you’re left in no doubt that this kitten’s got sharp teeth.

Working the 'neurotic divorcee with issues' angle, her gutter-mouth takes us on a not always comfortable poor-taste trek that encompasses alleged paedophile dads and nudge-wink bestiality.

It’s met with a sympathetic, boorish reception. When she dubiously reveals 'if I ever get raped, I’m gonna try and enjoy it', she’s treated to belly laughs aplenty.

The Lisa Loeb-alike potty-mouth schtick wears thin fast though, and when it’s over you’re left with the unerring suspicion that her brand of toilet humour simply stinks.

Milligan proves a perfect primer and foil for the close-to-the-bone approach of Reginald D Hunter.

Riffing on everything from religion to racism, his laid-back cool, amiable demeanour and genuinely funny tales make him a much more entertaining prospect.

Addressing the controversy over his use of the term ‘nigga’, it’s almost as if Richard Pryor never happened.

Even Chris Rock got away with more divisive material in the late 90s, but then, they weren’t playing to predominantly white, middle class British audiences.

The major criticism of Hunter’s stand-up is that he relies too heavily on black stereotypes. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case on this evidence.

If anything, Hunter is wholly himself on stage - charming, goofy, irreverent, refreshingly original, and as such, manages to challenge the very ‘types’ he’s purportedly reliant on.

What’s more, everything is done with a smile and a frank, everyman approach that says he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

If you’re of a particularly sensitive disposition or are easily offended, his routines won’t be your cup of brown water, as one unlucky lady at the front finds out to her embarrassment when Hunter asks for the house lights to be brought up to check, by way of a show of hands, how many people have examined their own anus.

On paper it might sound juvenile, but against the odds his reactions, delivery and observational astuteness, even on the most silly of subjects, make Pride & Prejudice & Niggas roadshow well worth your attention.