Review: Reggie Watts “A Live At Central Park”
Reggie Watts is a difficult act to pin down. Not because the comedian/musician/possible Fraggle isn’t talented, in fact he’s one of the most talented people I’ve witnessed in the last few years.
What’s difficult about Reggie is trying to explain him to an unfamiliar friend. Is he a comedian? Is he a musician? Is he from this planet? The answer lies somewhere in the middle of all of the above.
Watts is an entertainer who uses everything in his arsenal to put a smile on the faces of everyone present. Armed with a distinct look (think of an afro’d member of Parliament Funkadelic who didn’t get the memo, nor cares that Three Wolf Moon shirts and suspenders weren’t cool) and effects pedals. Watts beatboxes, loops, squaks and jams on bits, characters and escalating improved tangents.
Watts is a rare package that fits in everywhere because he doesn’t really fit in anywhere. His resume would make any performer at any stage in their career envious. First implanting onto the comedy world opening Conan O’Brien’s Illegally Prohibited… tour, working on TV shows like Louie and the forthcoming Comedy Bang Bang, to even catching the attention of guitar god, Jack White. There’s not much Watts hasn’t tried and more importantly, succeeded at. Hell, I’ve yet to mention his brilliant 2010 send-up of all things hip-hop, song/video “Fuck Shit Stack.”
A Live At Central Park isn’t your traditional stand-up comedy special. Rather it’s Watts delivering his signature beatbox/comedy show intercut with sketches as “Reginald” and his lady friend travel the park. While watching the special, it becomes very clear just how Kaufman-esque Watts is – you aren’t 100% sure who the “real Reggie” is. Just when you think you have an inkling of such, or what the joke actually is, you realize you do not.
Reggie’s act is not the type of stand-up that’s going to have you falling in the aisles in stitches. It’s best when it generates a simple smile that washes over audiences, leaving them mesmerized and grinning at what they are witnessing. Most comedians fear long silences, but Watts seems comfortable in knowing they are on the ride with him and paying attention to everything he’s doing even if not erupting at every tag or impression. In fact, sometimes the shared awkwardness of a bit gets the biggest laughs.
A Live At Central Park crescendos with “Reggiohead,” which Watts takes the opportunity to mock Thom Yorke and Radiohead’s song “Idioteque” in front of a crowd that is probably very fond of the target band. But as usual, Watts utilizes his talent, smirk, and attitude to make a smiling moment.
So to bring us back to the original question, how would you describe Reggie Watts to a friend? You could tell them he’s a funny musician. You could tell them he’s a musical comedian. Or you could tell them to just shut their mouths and experience Reggie Watts. Like the improv he serves up, he’s one of a kind.