“There are many moments where I think ‘Wait, what now am I doing?'”
Reggie Watts is essentially a real-life game of “Where’s Waldo?” He is a creative force that seemingly never sleeps. He spins 16.598 plates at once. You know Reggie Watts as soon as you lay eyes on him (for there is certainly no mistaking Reggie Watts for anyone else). He is the sort of person that can be described in so many different and theoretical ways, yet none of those ways could ever begin to do justice to exactly who (or more accurately what) Reggie Watts is.
As of this moment alone, you can see him as the band-leader on The Late Late Show with James Corden, hosting a freshly wrapped game show, Taskmaster on Comedy Central, can hear his newly released CD that he put out as Wajatta with John Tejeda, can catch his live-streaming sitcom The Crowe’s Nest on June 24th on his YouTube channel, and can catch him on his mini-European tour this summer.
Even more surprising than the amount the man works is just how stellar the quality of each thing he puts out is. Anybody can put out vast amounts of hopelessly subpar. Very few can do what Reggie does.
We recently spoke to Reggie about all of his new projects, as well as his work ethic, fans who ask him to share a joint, and his parting thoughts on how he would like to be remembered.
ON HIS INVOLVEMENT IN TASKMASTER
“I wasn’t aware of the show at all. Alex Horne and Andy Devonshire had the idea and asked me to do it. And I knew Alex from the international comedy scene. They just asked me one day. It was so out of the blue. I wasn’t sure what the show was, and then they sent me some clips. And it looked really fun, like the type of show I would be into. Most of the tasks were pre-written. I think there might have been a custom one for the U.S.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A HOST
“It’s more like doing an impression of a host. So it’s not that difficult. It’s me doing years and years of watching game shows and just my impression of ‘What do hosts do?’ And I always pretend that I’m a host anyway. So it came pretty naturally. And I really like it because it’s kind of like getting used to the fact that ‘Oh, I can do things how I want to.’ Not that I can’t usually, but in that role you just kind of do whatever the hell you want to do and it’s fine. So it was just getting used to that, that was the new factor.”
ON HAVING HIS FACE IMMORTALIZED ON A TROPHY (FOR TASKMASTER)
“It’s a little strange, but it didn’t look a lot like me, so it was okay. Maybe if it looked exactly like me, I would have been really scared.
BALANCING HIS SCHEDULE WITH LATE LATE SHOW
“It takes a little bit of time to get used to the schedule. But I don’t know. It’s not a lot of time out of the day, and it’s running pretty much like clockwork now. I have to drive to work 4 days a week, but I also have a lot of time off. It’s pretty balanced. Definitely sometimes I’ll think ‘Oh, I’d love to do this thing, but I can’t.’ There are certain things that I can’t do, but it’s not too crazy.”
ON DOING THE LATE LATE SHOW
It’s fun. The only time it’s a chore is when sometimes I’ll be grumpy because they’ll want me to come in for a rehearsal for something. As an improviser, I don’t want to know anything about what I’m doing. I just want to know in the moment. But sometimes for the show, they’ll go ‘We need you for this thing.’ And I’ll show up and just be a little bit grumpy because of that. I won’t be a jerk or anything like that, but they can tell that I’m a little resistant. That’s really the only negative that I can think of. Because it is a corporate environment, and there are certain corporate elements to it. As someone who has never had to work in an office or in a corporate environment, there’s some adjustment to it and I have to kind of be a little more forgiving for why people are doing what they’re doing, because it’s a different job structure. So that’s been a bit of a learning curve, for sure.”
ON “THE FRESHNESS METER”“
I always imagine a freshness meter and it just keeps going down the more people that are involved. So even in a corporate structure when I see late night writers. I always feel bad when I pass by the writers for the late night shows when I’ve been a guest on a show or even the Late Late Show. You see all the writers in the hallway getting ready to go over the monologue with James. And I’m like ‘If it were my show, there would be maybe 2 writers. There wouldn’t be 10 writers. And they would just be architectural writers, just insuring that the structure is there. But I don’t need people writing bits and lines and things like that for me because I just won’t remember them.”
ON CASUAL HIGH TECHNOLOGY WITH JOHN TEJEDA
I’ve been a big fan of John’s for a while, and we met at an event that he was spinning at and we just kind of kept in touch and finally we decided to see what would happen if we got into the studio. And we got into the studio and made some really fun [stuff]. That was kind of it. I just kind of realized that he was the type of guy that understands where I’m coming from creatively and he works similarly very, very quickly and in the moment. And also he’s an incredible producer. Yeah, it all worked together. He preserved a lot of the stuff that I was doing vocally in the mixes of what we were doing. It was just the perfect balance between he and I. So that’s why we came up with the name. It’s a hybrid between his last name and my last name. Wajatta. We just put something out and Comedy Dynamics got on board as our distributor and label. And it was super easy. Super fast, super fun, super easy.”
ON THE CROWE’S NEST
“The Crowe’s Nest, which was a big sitcom inside of my Netflix special, Spatial, is going to be live-streamed on May 24th with Kate Berlant, Rory Scovel, and Johnny Pemberton. So I think it will be a first. A live-streamed, multi-camera, fully improvised sitcom. That will be on my YouTube, the Youtube Super Deluxe, and DIGITAL DOMAIN.”
I did a lot of experimental theater and there were a lot of moments where I was ‘acting,’ quote unquote. And it’s definitely a bit of a learning curve, but I’m doing dialogue all day. I’m improvising dialogue. I’ll just be walking around the house and I’ll be having full on conversations between characters, you know? Just alone in my house and walking around going:
“Everyone here thinks that you’re crazy.”
“Well, I’m not crazy. Everyone here thinks that you’re crazy.”
“Well, what is it about you that makes everything so different?”
‘Can I please borrow the…'”
So I’m doing that kind of stuff all the time. I feel that’s the thing I’m working on now. Creating the perception for my fans and anyone really that I’m capable of also acting. But acting on my own terms. I’m an improviser. I still like to improvise. I’m terrible at remembering lines. It’s easier for me to just walk into a situation and improvise. So that’s why I’m doing stuff like The Crowe’s Nest livestream. I’m going to be doing a lot more improvisational sketches and video things to kind of just show that I can act on my own terms. Because I just want to be eventually making all my own projects filmically. Film is always a harder thing to get into because it’s more technical, but that’s my goal.”
ON HAVING SO MANY PROJECTS
“It’s a good thing, but it also can be a problem because you kind of have to work a lot harder to keep all of them on the equal level. The good thing about what I do, what makes it easier to do all these different projects is because I’m an improviser there’s not a lot of set up structurally for these type of things. So for Crowe’s Nest, it’s really just infrastructure. It’s really just communicating the idea what I want. The type of sets that I want, the partnership that I want with Butcher Bird Studios, with partners, and them understanding what I need, but also allowing them to do what they do without being a control freak. So I just kind of set the conditions and try to make it as clear as possible. Then we just show up and we do it.”
ON SELLING ONE’S SELF
“You have to convince people that your way is going to be successful to a certain degree. And with film it is harder because there are more resources and more money involved. So a studio is less likely to go for an idea that doesn’t have a lot of structure. That scares the shit out of them, which I understand, but that means because of that, I have to do a lot more of my own stuff to serve as an example of what I mean. So people can go ‘Oh, I get it now.’ It just takes a lot of convincing. It’s me going ‘Okay, well they’re not getting it. I’m not going to wait around. I’m going to do it myself until they finally do get it and then we can make something together.’ That’s why I’ll always encourage my friends. If you’re not getting a favorable response or people aren’t getting what you’re doing, just do it yourself. You have to. That instills confidence, because if you succeed in making a project on your own, it gives you confidence that you’re on the right track.”
ON FANS ASKING TO SMOKE
“Not as many ask as you’d think. Maybe 1 in 15. And it’s usually at a show or something like that. They’ll be like ‘Hey, we’re going to go outside. I’ve got a joint,’ or whatever. And usually I don’t really smoke as much anymore. I’m way more of an edibles guy. So usually I’ve already eaten something. So when people are like ‘Hey, do you want to smoke?’ I’m like ‘You know, I’m actually good.’ Which sounds kind of like I’m a square, but it’s like ‘No, I guarantee you I definitely am high.'”
ON HIS LEGACY
“I guess I’d like my legacy to serve as some form of inspiration to maintain a creative life or an appreciation for creativity. And to keep people inspired about art and science, and to keep educating themselves. Do stuff for yourself. Make yourself a stronger person and be in charge of your own evolution. Don’t rely completely on others. And also have a good time. Fight for your right to party.”
Reggie Watts can be seen every weeknight as the bandleader on The Late Late Show with James Corden. You can catch all episodes of Taskmaster currently on demand, as well as pick up a new copy of Casual High Technology on Amazon. All other information can be found on his website, reggiewatts.com