It’s a constant struggle to accurately describe Reggie Watts. The former Seattleite is an oddball comedic force you have to see to believe. One minute he’s behind the keyboard playing a soulful joke-filled jam, the next he’s doing traditional stand-up; then suddenly he’ll start twisting effects pedal nobs and hitting loop buttons to wildly distort his voice. He combines non sequiturs, beatboxing, space echoes, and some serious musical chops to create an otherworldly comedy/concert hybrid.
Watts has been busy of late: touring, appearing on Conan, popping up on web series (his wonderful appearance on 7 Minutes in Heaven is posted below), debuting his own Comedy Central special, and acting as the one-man band for the upcoming IFC series Comedy Bang! Bang! (an adaptation of the popular podcast). In anticipation of his upcoming show at Neptune Theatre, we caught up with Watts and chatted about the new show, science, and Seattle psychedelia.
You’ve been super busy of late. How are you handling it?
It’s definitely kind of a whirlwind. I’ve always been someone who kept themselves busy, so in a way it’s just a larger-scale version of that. Mechanically, it’s kind of the way I usually live, but it definitely takes its toll after a while.
What influence did Seattle have on your musical and comedic voice?
Seattle definitely offered the ability to kind of screw around with some different ideas, like just conceptual things. It kind of has a history of psychedelia, to a degree. Experimental, underground, weird things were kind of in its nature. You could really experiment with ideas of a more psychedelic origin [more] than in another place such as New York or L.A. You can definitely mess with it [in other places], but it’s just enhanced because of the climate, and the weather, and the people, and things like that that create a certain vibe there. Seattle was really important in developing my ability to have not as many limitations as I normally would when I perform.
What would you do if you weren’t an entertainer?
I’d probably like being a scientist of some sort. Maybe design engineering or something like that. I really like product design and interface design. I like designing the way people approach things. Ergonomically, I always have quips about the position of buttons, materials used, how fast something does something, or the craftsmanship. Those types of things.
What should people expect from Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC?
They can expect some pretty crazy, non-talk show-y stuff. And some really hyper-stupid absurdity. And some brilliant improvisation, not by me of course, but by others. And probably just a weirdly familiar good time.
June 4 at 8, Neptune Theatre, $25