Reviews

Reggie Watts: 19 May 2012 - Philadelphia

Kevin Coyle
Reggie Watts: Photo Credit Noah Kalina

You don't need to be a particular comedy or music fan to appreciate Reggie Watts' act.

Reggie Watts
City: Philadelphia, PA
Venue: Trocadero
Date: 2012-05-19

The recent comedy boom has smaller rock venues moonlighting as comedy clubs. There is no brick wall or dimly lit tables. No servers to bring you cocktails throughout the show. There is just that musty stage. This setting has to be unsettling for some stand-ups, but Reggie Watts filled every empty space in the room. He played in several bands in the '90s, so he has experience, but his act is so brilliant it could be appreciated in any setting.

Imagine a large man with a Sideshow Bob style hair cut and a colorful sweater adorned with images of golfers and you're only halfway there. Watts' appearance is a sight to see.

Watts' voice is something that must be heard. With the use of a keyboard and a loop-pedal Watts' absurdist comedy becomes a refreshing take on performance in general. There is nothing abrasive about his act. He paces around the stage with a slacker's confidence. Having ten-minute conversations among imaginary friends in a variety of voices. They are over the top impressions of non-famous characters. An uppity British bloke had a seamless conversation with a car mechanic from Brooklyn about the death of their friend Phil. Phil was just a character Reggie pulled out of his hair on the fly and told the audience he was doing a eulogy for him.

This non-linear form kept the crowd glued and amused. Watts can garner laughs by simply altering his gait on the stage. His physicality works for him even more when he breaks into loop pedal a-capella songs with themes ranging from Dungeons and Dragons to expensive baby carriages. His signing 'voices' are just as impressive as his non-musical characters. Singing in freestyle like Harry Belafonte and Curtis Mayfield while dancing like Bobby Brown elicited howls from the crowd. Loop pedaling has never looked so cool.

Impressive characterization and pitch perfect musicality make Watts' act indefinable, but in a good way. I wouldn't call it a musical comedy, nor would I call him a stand-up. He's an anomaly. Someone who absorbs every medium that comes across his senses. Watts could fit into any setting. His show makes you want to see more, because an hour just isn't enough Reggie. He would be perfect narrator for a book on tape or as a regular on bombastic kids show, Yo-Gabba-Gabba. (He recently landed a TV gig on IFC's new talk show Comedy Bang Bang, where he is the sidekick/musical act) You can see Watts doing anything entertaining when he is on stage. He is an electric performer that runs on constant smooth energy. He is more of a slow burn than a firecracker.

He performed five full songs throughout the show. He ended the show with a song that he said was about dub-step. He offered his thoughts on the genre and claimed that Fleetwood Mac was an original dub-step act. The song sounded nothing like Fleetwood or dub step. He used his keyboard and loop pedal to create a massive song off the cuff that quieted the crowd for all the right reasons. Those of us who saw him for the first time were astounded. How was he doing this? Why does it sound so good? He is opening a new door creatively every time he performs and hits the mark. The way Watts thrives on un-organization is what makes him so appealing. You don't need to be a particular comedy or music fan to appreciate his act. You just need to appreciate art.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image