Reggie Watts is the closest thing we have, as a nation, to a living cartoon character. He should be treated as such, and allowed to live his life in a way the rest of us are not. He should have the power of flight, invisibility, invincibility, and be able to do anything that occurred in a Warner Bros. cartoon, without the thought of legal or social repercussions. Reggie is simply different from the rest of us.
This became apparent immediately last night at Webster Hall. There are comedians, there are people who make sounds without the use of other instruments, and there are singers, but there is no one else who combines these in such a way.
If you have never seen or heard of Reggie Watts, he is a performer who possibly fits under the heading of standup comic…if only because his material makes you laugh. But each nonsensical part of his performance transitions into an improvised musical piece, done with nothing more than his own voice, and a looping pedal. There are no other musicians, and nothing is pre-recorded. He occasionally plays a keyboard, but it’s mainly just vocals. He’s Bobby McFerrin from another dimension.
His set last night went to some strange places. He takes on any convention you have about a comedian or musician, and blows them to bits, as if it were a Roadrunner cartoon. He constantly adjusts the mic stand, like you see any nervous performer do, only when Reggie does it, it becomes an insane ritual, as if moving that mic just a little will unlock the key to all the secrets in the universe.
He unplugs all of his pedals, fumbling around with every cable, asking the audience if anyone has any C batteries, otherwise the show cannot continue. This will be followed by a completely silent song, with all the dance moves and enthusiasm of a Beyonce performance.
The dance moves….He moves like he’s being animated in real time. Pixar could base an entire character on him, and it would make the Toy Story franchise look like Suburban Commando.
This is the thing we all chase in live events. You want to see something no one else can do. Something that could immediately fall apart at any moment, yet somehow continues to be amazing. If Reggie Watts ended up playing Madison Square Garden, I would not be surprised for a minute. I would also line up early to get in.
One more thing brought a smile to my face. Surprisingly, there were some loud drunk girls behind us at Webster Hall. I believe this might have been the first instance of anything like that occurring at a live event, and most definitely at Webster Hall, a venue known for its respectful crowds. Anyway, they talked through the opening acts, proclaiming how they could do much better. And were very excited once Reggie came on stage.
They lasted through the first few songs, cheering on whenever he made a New York reference…which he did in a Hype Man voice… at he expense of the very people cheering him on. About 20 min in though….the ringleader, lets call her Tramp Stamp McMurrayHill (because all she talked about was the tattoo she got that day, and I’m guessing on both the location of the tattoo and her apartment) decided she wanted a Hamburger. That is all she would talk about. Eventually, they left, hopefully to get said hamburger. And no, I do not hope they got food poisoning from this burger. Any hype surrounding Reggie, was clearly not enough to please her very wide and varied cultural tastes. I’m glad Reggie could benefit financially from this group’s attendance, but I’m even more glad it was a little too weird for them.
Why don’t we close with a classic, an undeniable hit…..