February 23, 2011

Reggie Watt to Bring Unique Act to Bailey

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If you have not heard of improvisational musician/comedian Reggie Watt, you should definitely look him up on YouTube. Not only is he a unique looking person, sporting a huge afro and a large puffy beard, but he has one of the most unique comedic performances out there.  His act is mostly a stream of consciousness in which he mixes avant-garde electronic music with comedy. He creates his songs using a looping machine to produce unique multilayered sets of music using only his voice. In between songs he tells improvisational stories or acts out scenes that usually introduce the next song, all the time while constantly shifting accents and characters. Reggie usually commences each song by laying down a beat boxing sound loop, then adds a few more loops of background a cappella “instrumentals.” He tops off the song with sometimes incomprehensible, always nonsensical and usually hilarious lyrics. The result, which imitates the music you might hear on the radio, is incredible to watch him build up before your eyes. As he sings, he turns on and off his vocal loops and plays around with his voice to create his desired affect: disorienting the audience with catchy joke songs that make fun of the common elements of modern music. During one performance, he sang a song in which he shifted languages several times, from mock German to mock French to a long, drawn-out Irish ballad.

Watts was born in Germany in 1972, but grew up in Great Falls, Montana. He moved to Seattle at age 18 to study music and eventually ended up studying jazz at the Cornish College of the Arts.  He played in over a dozen Seattle bands and dabbled in sketch comedy, eventually becoming the lead singer of soul, rock and hip hop group Maktub.  On tour with Maktub, he experimented with the band’s effects pedal, eventually developing his unique sound.  In 2002, inspired by sketch group The State and the film Wet Hot American Summer, he started doing solo acts at small Seattle venues.

Watts moved to New York City in 2004. Encouraged by comedians Eugene Mirman and Michael Showalter, he began to preform a various comedy clubs around New York. During this time he was also shooting comedic web shorts for sites like CollegeHumor. His video “What About Blowjobs?” on CollegeHumor made him an internet hit. Soon afterward he recorded his EP, Pot Cookies.

In 2006 he began to expand into television and film, appearing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, HBO’s The Yes Men Fix The World, Comedy Central’s Michael and Michael Have Issues, the website Funny Or Die and performing music for comedian Louis C.K.’s show Louie. He has preformed at a wide variety of venues, including Bonnaroo, the Sydney Opera House, The Louvre, the Montreal Comedy Festival, the Vancouver Comedy Festival and CollegeHumor’s “CH Live” stand-up comedy series. Watts recently was the opener for Conan O’Brien’s 2010 “The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour” and appeared on several episodes of the show.

Reggie Watts will be preforming with special guests iLL-Literacy in Bailey Hall on Feb. 25 from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  Join him for an evening of imaginative sound and musical comedy.

Original Author: Zac Peterson