Reginald D. Hunter headlined Just the Tonic Comedy Club special on Friday 1st November at Rosies Nightclub on Broad Street, with support acts Simon Wozniak and Darius Davies – ably compared by regular host, Thomas Green.
Just the Tonic Comedy Club was founded in 1994 and has been running at venues across the UK ever since. Firstly, I must grumble. Doors closed for the show at 7.15pm, for an 8 o’clock start: arriving after work, this reviewer was hungry. I was surprised that only Chicago Town pizzas were on offer which were pretty pricey considering they are essentially frozen pizzas (and no crisps! – criminal). It’s a generous line-up too, meaning the show lasted nearly three hours: I soon decided to splash out on a pizza and was a little cranky to discover they’d sold out. The place was busy but not packed: this peckish punter would have appreciated better preparedness from the Friday night organisers. The scarcity of sustenance, however, did mean the lubricated audience lent a lively spirit to the show.
Rosies Nightclub is an intimate venue, a real old school comedy club with long tables (imagine the darts but much more ‘date night’) and large leather booths. Every seat has a good view and they even set out a free front row for the fearless or foolish, a foot from the stage: a chance we leapt at (I’d had four gins in quick succession on an empty stomach). Thomas Green (an acerbic, bearded Aussie who, like most Australians, makes liberal use of the C-bomb) worked the crowd well and deftly dealt with drunken hecklers. His quick banter built an audience bond which the acts bounced off. Spooky Halloween spiderwebs (and skulls which initially blocked the stage lights) stuck to each act and it was great to see how they each improvised to capitalise on the physical comedy.
As to the acts: Darius Davies (an Anglo-Iranian from London) was a decent warm up, funny if a little predictable (to be fair, I was ‘hangry’ at this point and he made the typical ‘Birmingham is shit’ joke, which nearly pushed me over the edge). Simon Wozniak’s set was better, slick self-deprecation delivered dripping in snark, which had the audience roaring. By the time Reginald D. Hunter arrived, his familiar large frame dominating the small stage as his grey dreads caught up in the cobwebs, the crowd was pleasantly pissed and well warmed up.
An American who has made the UK his home for the last two decades, Hunter is by far one of the most familiar faces on the comedy circuit in the UK today. Known for his acerbic wit delivered in honey tones: I’m most familiar with his tackling of subjects like race and sexuality on TV in his smooth South Georgia drawl.
Having enjoyed that comedy rarity of both critical and commercial success, his stand-up has become almost secondary to his television career, although he does tour regularly. His shortish set (around half an hour) seemed somewhat patched together from a longer show; he touched on race (the N-word), politics (the B-word) but then swung to love/sex/relationships jokes. Hunter is a seasoned pro: being given a glimpse into his personal life humanised him, but with richness in the political landscape right now it would have been great to see him riff more on the ridiculousness of both his adopted and home nation’s hubris. This is a niggle, however, Hunter was entertaining, showing a different string to his bow and we spilled out onto Broad Street happy, if very hungry.
Just the Tonic Comedy Club gives Brummies the chance to see comedy in a cosy setting: three quality acts and a compere for fifteen quid is a bargain night of entertainment in the centre of Broad Street. Be prepared, however: pack some snacks.
For more on Reginal D. Hunter, visit www.reginalddhunter.co.uk
For more from Just the Tonic Comedy Club (Birmingham), including further event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.justthetonic.com/birmingham-comedy
For more on Rosies Nightclub (Birmingham), including venue details and further event listings, visit www.rosiesclubs.co.uk/birmingham
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