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 49)
Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
OriginGreat Falls, Montana, U.S.
  • Vocals
  • beatboxing
  • keyboards
  • loop machine
Associated actsMaktub

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, often in a comedic fashion. He appeared on the IFC series Comedy Bang! Bang! and currently leads the house band for The Late Late Show with James Corden.[1]

Early life[edit]

Reginald Lucien Frank Roger Watts[2][3] was born in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg,[4] on March 23, 1972, the only child of French mother Christiane and African-American father Charles Alphonso Watts.[3] His father was an officer in the US Air Force, and the family lived in Germany and Spain before relocating to Great Falls, Montana, where Watts was raised and graduated from Great Falls High School in the class of 1990.[3] He also took piano and violin lessons between the ages of five and 16,[5] and has said his love of music started as a young child when he saw Ray Charles playing the piano on television.[6] Watts moved to Seattle, Washington at the age of 18 to study music. He briefly attended the Art Institute of Seattle before studying jazz at Cornish College of the Arts.[2] While in Seattle, he played in a number of Seattle bands of wildly varying genres, including a stint with Wayne Horvitz and the neo-soul band Maktub.[7]


Early career (1996–2009)[edit]

Watts performing in March 2013

In 1996, Watts became the front man for soul, rock, and hip hop group Maktub.[8][9]

While recording and touring circa 1996–2000 with Wayne Horvitz 4+1 Ensemble as a keyboardist, Watts 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, in order to replicate the duplicate harmonies from the recorded material. Then, 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, Watts composed musical scores for Northwest dance choreographers and he dabbled in sketch comedy with future theatrical collaborator Tommy Smith.[10]

In 2004, after recording five albums over eight years, Watts moved to the Lower East Side, 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.[11] He shot comedic web shorts for Superdeluxe, Vimeo and CollegeHumor.

In 2006, Watts started to branch out into performing for television and film, while continuing to pursue live performance and the creation of new performance technologies.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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. Watts 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's The Venture Bros. as "The Delivery Guy", Australia's Good News Week, and appeared in the US documentary The Yes Men Fix the World. Watts also toured in direct support of Devo in a fall 2009 tour which featured that band's albums Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and Freedom of Choice played in full.

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.[9] Afterwards, Watts made various public appearances, including in Conan O'Brien's The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.

A Live in Central Park (2012)[edit]

Watts's second stand-up special, Reggie Watts: A "Live" in Central Park, premiered on May 12, 2012 on Comedy Central in the "Secret Stash" completely uncensored to positive reviews.[12][13]

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).[14]

Also in 2012, Watts began collaborating with Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, and Sarah Silverman to create their comedy YouTube channel known as Jash.[15][16]

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[17] 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.[18]

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."[19] His band on the show was unofficially named "Karen",[20] but in response to Karen being used as a pejorative, the band was renamed "Melissa".[21] Watts has a slot on the show to ask a guest a question about anything (called Reggie's Question on show clips). The questions are a continuation of his time on Comedy Bang! Bang!, and follow his preference for surreal comedy in his stand-up act.[22]

On December 6, 2016, Watts' Netflix special Spatial was released.[23]

Performance style[edit]

Watts's solo shows are completely improvised[24] and 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 standup comedy, consisting of him rapidly alternating between topics of discussion in both rational and nonsensical manners, making random sounds and noises, and speaking in other accents, languages, and gibberish at unexpected times, all with the intent of playfully and comically disorienting his audiences.[25] He has a four and a half octave vocal range, and adopts a wide variety of voices and accents.[26][27]

Personal life[edit]

Watts is writer Alice Walker's cousin.[28]




Internet videos[edit]

  • CollegeHumor – "What About Blowjobs?" (2007)
  • 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)

Music videos[edit]

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

Video games[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]


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

4 + 1 Ensemble[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.[32] 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.[8]



  1. ^ a b Wright, Megh (2014-12-12). "CBS Announces Reggie Watts Will Be 'Late Late Show's Band Leader Next Year". Splitsider. Archived from the original on 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2014-12-14.
  2. ^ a b Teagarden, Rebecca (2004-12-19). "Reggie Watts: Stage presence". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  3. ^ a b c "The YouTube Star Who's Crazy in a Funny Way". Esquire. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  4. ^ "Reggie Watts Biography". Retrieved 2012-11-11.
  5. ^ Scott C (2005-10-16). "Soulful absurdity: The two sides of Reggie Watts". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  6. ^ "Reggie Watts on Employee of the Month". SoundCloud. Archived from the original on 2013-07-08.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Reggie Watts Official Biography". Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  9. ^ a b Itzkoff, Dave (May 28, 2010). "Always the Quick-Change Artist, From Skits to Songs to Stand-Ups". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Barker, Jeremy M. (October 14, 2009). "Reggie Watts & Tommy Smith's Long Road Back to on the Boards". The SunBreak.
  11. ^ Klickstein, Mathew (August 11, 2011). "Reggie Watts, Conan O'Brien's hip-hop comic coming to the Fox". Colorado Daily.
  12. ^ Hyman, Dan (May 22, 2012). "Reggie Watts: 'I Feel That I Need to Make Something More Substantial'". Rolling Stone.
  13. ^ L. Ray, Austin. "Reggie Watts A Live at Central Park special review". The Spit Take. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  14. ^ Blackard, Cap (May 17, 2012). "Interview: Reggie Watts". Consequence of Sound.
  15. ^ Matheson, Whitney (2013-03-11). "JASH: Your fave comedians launch a YouTube channel". USA Today. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  16. ^ Danton, Eric R. (2013-03-11). "Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera Launch JASH Comedy Channel on YouTube". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Reggie Watts + Mac Lethal".
  18. ^
  19. ^ 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 4 April 2015.
  20. ^ Daly, Kyle. "Reggie Watts' Late Late Show band is just called Karen". AV Club. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Sandberg, Bryn. "'Late Late Show' Bandleader Reggie Watts on Dual Role, 'Comedy Bang! Bang!' Influence". The Hollywood Reporter/Yahoo. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  23. ^ Reggie Watts: Spatial, retrieved 2019-07-18
  24. ^ "Reggie Watts, Man Of Many Voices, Improvised His Way To Success". Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  25. ^ Logan, Brian (19 June 2013). "Reggie Watts – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  26. ^ "The Mad Liberationist". Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  27. ^ "The YouTube Star Who's Crazy in a Funny Way". Esquire. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  28. ^ James Corden: It's Time for Change in the US. The Late Late Show with James Corden. June 1, 2020.
  29. ^
  30. ^ Chavez, Danette (May 6, 2019). "The vibrant, surreal Tuca & Bertie is one of the best new shows of the year". A/V Club.
  31. ^ "The Cooties featuring Reggie Watts - 30 Days, 30 Songs". 30 Days 30 Songs. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  32. ^ "Press Release". Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2011-04-30.

External links[edit]