Reggie Watts

I first saw Reggie Watts perform at Rififi, a now-defunct nightclub in the Lower East Side. It was about a year ago, and I was there with a couple friends to watch a random line-up of comedians do their 15-minute sets. Everything was going along just fine until Reggie got up to do his thing.

To give you a sense of what it was like experiencing Reggie Watts perform that night, imagine the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy lands in Oz and the world turns from black and white into brilliant, crystal color. Mix that with Matrix-style special effects, where everything is going full speed, then suddenly time stops, the angle shifts, and bullets whiz by your head at a snail’s pace…and then all of a sudden you’re back at full speed again with the music blaring and action all around you.

It’s hard to categorize Reggie because his work crosses various genres—comedy, music, performance art, etc. He loops improvised vocal beats and melodies to create sonic landscapes. He skips across the stage like a 12-year-old school girl. He goes in and out of accents and personas while delivering rambling monologues. Every throwaway line and gesture is a reference to something specific, but you don’t have time to figure it all out, because Reggie is always onto the next thing.

To get an immediate feel for what I’m talking about, check out Reggie on YouTube doing “Out Of Control”—it’s a completely improvised performance that will take you on an aural and psychic journey.

I walked out of the show that night at Rififi shouting Reggie’s praises. I don’t often use the word “genius,” but that’s what I think Reggie Watts is—a genius.

– Dan Golden

photography by Noah Kalina