Reggie Watts

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Reggie Watts
Watts performing in October 2011
Watts performing in October 2011
Background information
Birth nameReginald Lucien Frank Roger Watts
Born (1972-03-23) March 23, 1972 (age 50)
Stuttgart, Germany
OriginGreat Falls, Montana, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Comedian
  • actor
  • beatboxer
  • musician
Instrument(s)
  • Vocals
  • beatboxing
  • keyboards
  • loop machine
Websitereggiewatts.com

Reginald Lucien Frank Roger Watts (born March 23, 1972) is an American comedian, actor, beatboxer, and musician. His improvised musical sets are created using only his voice, a keyboard, and a looping machine. Watts refers to himself as a "disinformationist" who aims to disorient his audience in a comedic fashion. He appeared on the IFC series Comedy Bang! Bang! and leads the house band for The Late Late Show with James Corden.[1]

Early life[edit]

Reginald Lucien Frank Roger Watts was born in Stuttgart on March 23, 1972, the son of French mother Christiane and African-American father Charles Alphonso Watts.[2][3][4] His father was an officer in the Air Force, leading the family to live in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain before returning to the U.S. and settling in Great Falls, Montana, where Watts was raised; he graduated from Great Falls High School in 1990.[4] He began piano and violin lessons at the age of five,[5] with his love of music beginning as a young child when he saw Ray Charles play the piano on television.[6] He moved to Seattle at the age of 18 to study music, attending the Art Institute of Seattle before studying jazz at Cornish College of the Arts.[2]

Career[edit]

Early career (1996–2009)[edit]

Watts performing in March 2013

In 1996, Watts became the frontman for the band Maktub.[7][8][9] While recording and touring from 1996 to 2000 with Wayne Horvitz's 4+1 Ensemble as a keyboardist, he was forced to downsize his effects pedal from a Roland Space Echo tape delay to a Line 6 DL4 delay modeler, a smaller device that makes it easy to travel. He began using the Line 6 in live shows with Maktub to replicate the duplicate harmonies from the recorded material. He experimented with improvising entire songs in solo acts with the Line 6, while trying to sound like Tom Waits, playing initial gigs at small Seattle venues and artist bungalows. While in Seattle, he composed musical scores for dance choreographers and dabbled in sketch comedy with longtime friend and future playwright Tommy Smith,[10] who later ended their collaborative relationship when Watts failed to credit him for co-writing the lyrics of his viral hits "Fuck Shit Stack" and "What About Blowjobs?"[11]

In 2004, after recording five albums over eight years, Watts moved to the Lower East Side of New York City. In 2005, he recorded his first solo single, "So Beautiful". Inspired by The State and Wet Hot American Summer, he began infusing spontaneous comedic material with the beat-box-driven musical compositions.[12] He also shot comedic shorts for Superdeluxe, Vimeo, and CollegeHumor.

In 2007, Watts appeared on Plum TV's Scott Bateman Presents Scott Bateman Presents and starred in the CollegeHumor internet video "What About Blowjobs?" The video became a viral hit. The same year, he also wrote and performed the theme song for Penelope Princess of Pets, a web comedy series featuring Kristen Schaal and H. Jon Benjamin.

In 2008, Watts recorded a new special entitled Disinformation, which features his performance at the Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theater. He also appeared in the independent film Steel of Fire Warriors 2010 A.D. as a Mutantzoid Underling and on an episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as making other various television appearances.

In 2009, Watts recorded his first solo EP, Pot Cookies. He also began appearing on the PBS Kids' children's program The Electric Company. He performed in his first solo short film Watts Does London and made a small appearance on Comedy Central's Michael and Michael Have Issues. He then did voice work for an episode of Adult Swim UK's The Venture Bros., Australia's Good News Week, and appeared in the U.S. documentary The Yes Men Fix the World. He also toured in support of Devo in a fall 2009 tour.

Why Shit So Crazy? (2010–2011)[edit]

In 2010, Waverly Films shot a one-hour special on Watts called Why Shit So Crazy? The special features Watts in live performance at New York venues Galapagos, The Bellhouse, and (Le) Poisson Rouge, bookended with brief sketches and a music video of Watts' "Fuck Shit Stack". Comedy Central aired Why Shit So Crazy? and released the film as a dual DVD/CD package.[8] Afterwards, Watts made various public appearances, including during Conan O'Brien's The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.

A Live at Central Park (2012)[edit]

Watts's second stand-up special, A Live at Central Park, premiered on Comedy Central in the "Secret Stash" on May 12, 2012. It was completely uncensored and received positive reviews.[13][14]

The film was made available as a CD/DVD through Watts' official website as well as Comedy Central's online store.

Soon afterwards, Watts performed a song with LCD Soundsystem on their farewell documentary movie, Shut Up and Play the Hits.

Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012–2015)[edit]

In 2012, Watts began starring opposite Scott Aukerman on the IFC series Comedy Bang! Bang! based on the comedy podcast of the same name (formerly Comedy Death-Ray Radio).[15] Also in 2012, Watts began collaborating with Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, and Sarah Silverman to create a comedy YouTube channel called Jash.[16][17]

In 2013, On the Boards recorded a new Watts special entitled Transition, which played at various arts festivals including the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater; it was winner of the MAP Fund Award and Creative Capital award. It is available on iTunes via TenduTV.

Watts was invited to perform at Yoko Ono's Meltdown 2013 on the South Bank in London where he was supported by[18] Mac Lethal.

In 2014, Watts contributed the outro vocal on "Holy City" and beatbox on "The Classic" from the Joan As Police Woman album The Classic. He also appeared as the last act in the season 4 premiere of John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show where he told some jokes and performed a song, hugging John Oliver at the end.

In December 2014, following CBS's announcement that Watts would lead The Late Late Show band, Aukerman announced that Watts would remain with Comedy Bang! Bang! through only the first half of 2015.[1] Watts' final episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! was on June 5, 2015.[19]

The Late Late Show with James Corden and Spatial (2015–present)[edit]

Watts currently serves as the bandleader and announcer for The Late Late Show with James Corden. He has described his role on the show as "a mix of Paul Shaffer and Andy Richter".[20] His band on the show was unofficially named Karen,[21] but in response to the rise of that name being used as an insult, the band was renamed Melissa.[22] Watts has a slot on the show to ask a guest a question about anything called Reggie's Question. The questions are a continuation of his time on Comedy Bang! Bang! and follow his preference for surreal comedy in his stand-up act.[23]

On December 6, 2016, Watts' Netflix special Spatial was released.[24]

Performance style[edit]

Watts utilizes improvisation in his solo shows,[25][26] which consist of him singing and rapping both with words and with sound poetry, accompanying himself by either beatboxing, performing vocal basslines into a loop machine, or simply by playing the keyboard. His act also showcases his trademark style of stand-up comedy, consisting of him rapidly alternating between topics of discussion in both rational and nonsensical manners, making random sounds and gibberish noises, and speaking in other accents and languages at unexpected times, all with the intent of playfully and comically disorienting his audiences.[27] He has a four-and-a-half octave vocal range.[28][29]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Television[edit]

Internet videos[edit]

  • CollegeHumor – "What About Blowjobs?" (2007)
  • Jake Lodwick - "It's Over" (2007)
  • Jake Lodwick - "The Beginning is Near" (2008)
  • Disinformation (2008)
  • bd – "I Just Want To" (2009)
  • "Fuck Shit Stack" (2010)
  • Pop!Tech – "Reggie Watts: Humor In Music" (2011)
  • Pop!Tech – "Reggie Watts: A Send-Off In Style" (2011)
  • Funny or Die – "Reggie Watts Live" (2012)
  • TED – "Reggie Watts Disorients You in the Most Entertaining Way" (2012)
  • "Reggie Watts Is Skrillex" (2012)
  • Jash – Various Videos (2013–present)
  • "Ian Up For Whatever" – Bud Light Super Bowl XLVIII ad (2014)
  • Good Mythical Morning – "Which Musician Am I?" (2018)
  • RIGHT NOW - "RIGHT NOW w/ John Goblikon S4 E2 (Reggie Watts)" [32]
  • Marti Fischer - "Impro mit REGGIE WATTS | Ein Loop zwischendurch" [33]

Music videos[edit]

  • "Night and Day" by Hot Chip (2012)
  • "Stop Desire" by Tegan and Sara (2016)
  • "Move" by Saint Motel (2017)
  • "Ask Yourself" by Panther Modern (2019)

Video games[edit]

Discography[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • Simplified (2003)
  • Why Shit So Crazy? (2010)
  • Live at Third Man – 12" Vinyl (2011)
  • A Live at Central Park (2012)
  • Spatial (2016)

Solo singles[edit]

  • "So Beautiful" (2005)
  • "Get Ready" (2014)

Collaborative albums[edit]

Maktub[edit]

  • Subtle Ways (1999)
  • Khronos (2003)
  • Say What You Mean (2005)
  • Start It Over (2007)
  • Five (2009)

4 + 1 Ensemble[edit]

Wajatta[edit]

Collaborative songs[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

Watts is the winner of the 2005 Malcolm Hardee "Oy Oy" Award, the 2006 Andy Kaufman Comedy Award, and the 2006 Seattle Mayor's Arts Award.[36] He was also awarded the 2008 MAP Fund and the 2009 Creative Capitol Grant for the performing arts, and won the 2009 ECNY Award for Best Musical Comedy Act.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wright, Megh (December 12, 2014). "CBS Announces Reggie Watts Will Be 'Late Late Show's Band Leader Next Year". Splitsider. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Teagarden, Rebecca (December 19, 2004). "Reggie Watts: Stage presence". The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  3. ^ "Reggie Watts Biography". Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "The YouTube Star Who's Crazy in a Funny Way". Esquire. December 2, 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  5. ^ Scott C (October 16, 2005). "Soulful absurdity: The two sides of Reggie Watts". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  6. ^ "Reggie Watts on Employee of the Month". SoundCloud. Archived from the original on July 8, 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Reggie Watts Official Biography". Reggiewatts.com. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Itzkoff, Dave (May 28, 2010). "Always the Quick-Change Artist, From Skits to Songs to Stand-Ups". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Reggie Watts is living his childhood dream, but would also enjoy being a gigolo". The A.V. Club. April 10, 2018.
  10. ^ Barker, Jeremy M. (October 14, 2009). "Reggie Watts & Tommy Smith's Long Road Back to on the Boards". The SunBreak.
  11. ^ "Pumping in and pumping out: genre-defying performer Reggie Watts advocates theatre that shifts gears and keeps its engines running. - Free Online Library". www.thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  12. ^ Klickstein, Mathew (August 11, 2011). "Reggie Watts, Conan O'Brien's hip-hop comic coming to the Fox". Colorado Daily.
  13. ^ Hyman, Dan (May 22, 2012). "Reggie Watts: 'I Feel That I Need to Make Something More Substantial'". Rolling Stone.
  14. ^ L. Ray, Austin. "Reggie Watts A Live at Central Park special review". The Spit Take. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  15. ^ Blackard, Cap (May 17, 2012). "Interview: Reggie Watts". Consequence of Sound.
  16. ^ Matheson, Whitney (March 11, 2013). "JASH: Your fave comedians launch a YouTube channel". USA Today. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  17. ^ Danton, Eric R. (March 11, 2013). "Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera Launch JASH Comedy Channel on YouTube". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  18. ^ "Reggie Watts + Mac Lethal". southbankcentre.co.uk.
  19. ^ "Breaking News - "Comedy Bang! Bang!" Passes the Mic to Kid Cudi | TheFutonCritic.com". www.thefutoncritic.com.
  20. ^ Kavner, Lucas. "Reggie Watts on His New Gig As Bandleader of The Late Late Show and Why He Was Initially Annoyed by the Offer". Vulture. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  21. ^ Daly, Kyle (March 23, 2015). "Reggie Watts' Late Late Show band is just called Karen". AV Club. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  22. ^ "Bye 'Karen' - LLS Band Gets a New Name - 3 Things". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021 – via www.youtube.com.
  23. ^ Sandberg, Bryn. "'Late Late Show' Bandleader Reggie Watts on Dual Role, 'Comedy Bang! Bang!' Influence". The Hollywood Reporter/Yahoo. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  24. ^ Reggie Watts: Spatial, December 6, 2016, retrieved July 18, 2019
  25. ^ "Reggie Watts, Man Of Many Voices, Improvised His Way To Success". NPR.org. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  26. ^ "Inside the Magical Mind of Reggie Watts". July 16, 2018.
  27. ^ Logan, Brian (June 19, 2013). "Reggie Watts – review". The Guardian. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  28. ^ "The Mad Liberationist". NYMag.com. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  29. ^ "The YouTube Star Who's Crazy in a Funny Way". Esquire. December 2, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  30. ^ Guide, British Comedy (April 18, 2017). "Comedy Central USA buys Taskmaster format". British Comedy Guide.
  31. ^ Chavez, Danette (May 6, 2019). "The vibrant, surreal Tuca & Bertie is one of the best new shows of the year". A/V Club.
  32. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "RIGHT NOW w/ John Goblikon S4 E2 (Reggie Watts)". YouTube.
  33. ^ Impro mit REGGIE WATTS | Ein Loop zwischendurch, retrieved July 11, 2022
  34. ^ Spencer Rothbelle - Cartoon Network Journeys VR, I helped write dialogue and shape the personality of the character, who we named GormLorm (voiced by Reggie Watts), an inter-dimensional traveler.
  35. ^ "The Cooties featuring Reggie Watts - 30 Days, 30 Songs". 30 Days 30 Songs. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  36. ^ "Press Release". Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. September 1, 2006. Retrieved April 30, 2011.

External links[edit]