If you’ve yet to truly appreciate Reggie Watts‘ out-there brand of comedy, you’re not alone. The very hairy, Montana-bred comic gives new meaning to the term “bugged-out.” His appearance on Conan this week is proof. Wearing a cozy-looking brown sweater, Watts proceeds to tell a few nonsensical jokes which are not jokes per se but observations that start off in one direction, then just hang suspended in mid-air.
At one point, he says:
“Always do what’s wrong and that will give you more leeway in the future, just in case you need more leeway, which of course barely any of us need.”
[Insert uncomfortable laughter here.]
Later he launches into a frenzied impromptu beatbox in which he loops his vocals in a machine and performs a hip-hop ode to Conan. But then just as it seems as if he’s channeling Rahzel, the funnyman snaps out of his b-boy persona, perhaps realizing he was acting up in front of mostly white folks and that he’d do better to relate to them with some jazz scatting and a schmaltzy big band number fit for a Reno nightclub or seniors’ cruise ship.
The entire performance could read as an attempt to poke fun at the unfair expectations heaped on most black performers. Instead of fighting that burden, Watts just goes over-the-top. His cynicism runs deep, if you can catch it. Either that, or dude’s just got balls. Oddballs (he-he) he’s had since turning to comedy from music a while back. Watt used to sing in soul-jazz band Soulive, according to Spin magazine who named him Best New Comic of 2010.
You can witness his mellifluous flow in “Fuck Shit Stack,” a video and song that tweaks just about every tired rap convention in sort of “CB4” satire-style. The video has more than 1 million views. Where my gerunds at?
And if you’re in NY and want to check him live, Watts is set to contemplate the meaning of the universe with noted Columbia U. astrophysicist Janna Levin and Studio 360 moderator Kurt Andersen at the Green Space on Dec. 13.