The comedy of Reggie Watts is so subtle and brilliant that it doesn’t even seem funny unless you understand what exactly is going on. That being said, here is a man who does in fact, need an introduction.
Watts has built an impressive resume in the entertainment industry. He spent the early days of his career fronting bands and nomadically traveling the country. He’s produced music with everyone from Louis C.K. to Regina Spektor. He caught the attention of Conan O’Brien which put him in the high-profile spot as the opening act for Conan’s Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour and since parlayed that relationship into appearances on the late night show Conan three times as both a comedy and musical guest. The man has been on television, in the theater, and now, Live at Third Man Records.
The story goes as so, when Conan recorded an album during Legally Tour at Jack White’s Third Man Records in Nashville, Reggie met White, the invite to do a performance happened and here we are with a new Reggie Watts album that looks to bring a few more listeners into his unique world.
Watts relies mostly on improvisation for his humor. No matter how many times you see him live, his jokes are never quite the same twice. Upon first listen, he comes across schizophrenic or drug-ridden, which can be why his humor doesn’t always land the first time around. Each track on the album emphasizes a different persona. The first track, “Shit Be Weird” finds Watts in the guise of a circular-talking, foul-mouthed man of the streets, pondering the age-old question posed on his first recorded full-length, Why $#!+ So Crazy? Other vocal variations include “Working Nights on the Night Shift,” which features one of the wackiest British fables you’ll ever hear. Later tracks seem like a normal voice for Watts, but no one can really be sure. Watts often goes on stream-of-conscious rants, occasionally hit or miss, but always intriguing. Watts is very intelligent, which allows him to have full control over every moment of what seems like confusion and political incorrectness.
After realizing that Watts actually knows what he’s doing, you could start to feel like a sucker. Listeners will have to be in on the joke before the hilarity will ensue. That’s perhaps the best hook Watts has, even if you can’t quite figure out what’s going on, there’s an odd desire to crack the bewildered code. It can be a hard act to enjoy for some since Watts is giving a performance, rather than delivering punchline after punchline. It’s because of this that Live At Third Man Records is a compelling comedic journey, and an excellent attempt at creating a hybrid between improv, comedy, and music.