Photos by Michael Zonenashvili
It is impossible to review a Reggie Watts
show. I can’t say I came back from it, got home and told my friends, “Remember that joke about…” No, that didn’t happen. There were no “bits.” There was no section of his exceptionally long, attention grasping set that I can tell you to look forward to when you see him, if this convinces you to see him. To be completely honest, attempting to review a Reggie Watts set is almost completely futile in capturing this man’s utter genius as a renaissance man—a triple threat of music, comedy and improvisation. Perhaps he’s insane.
Watts came on stage armed with three microphones—one for speaking, one for his loopstation and one at a keyboard. At his whim, he talked for a couple of minutes on the lone microphone, literally just shooting the shit about life, the news, or any observations. When you think about it, improvisation and humor combine best when the situation is “real.” A scripted joke will never do too well among your group of friends so much as the line you say spur of the moment in a conversation. Perhaps that’s what made Reggie Watts so easy to relate to; he was simply talking to this enormous crowd, not performing for us.
Then it happened. A character change, a total tangential shift in the conversation, or a complete devolution into Dadaisms. The Reggie Watts genius came into play. The standard conversational tone becomes a stream of consciousness barrage that would make James Joyce whimper. Topics jump from one to another, the abrupt shifts as hilarious and unexpected as the slow transitions, where somewhere in between lies a punchline.
Again, something else new, as he got on a looping machine and created a backdrop to his lyric poetry with beatboxing and soundeffects, looped to perfection. These mini-orchestrations, also completely improvised, make one wonder what Watts could create if he sat down for an hour and create music. Within minutes, his musically charged “talking to the audience” develops a hook, a chorus, and a capella breakdowns.
Again, to speak to the futility of this review, none of what I saw that night is at all like what you’ll see. You’ll get the ranting, the gibberish, the Dada, the poetry and the music. My telling you that topics ranged from the Death Star, to gun silencers, to the creation of the universe, to casually leaving your laptop on at night does not nearly spoil the show for you. You won’t hear of any of those in your show. You will, however, get to see a glimpse into the internal workings of a genius/madman, amplified by a microphone.