After years of working as a musician with a diverse group of bands in Seattle, Watts eventually decided to move to Brooklyn where he would be encouraged by his friends, comedians Eugene Mirman and Michael Showalter, to try performing at various comedy clubs around New York.
With his massive afro and beard, long, painted pinky nails, and an assortment of t-shirts reminiscent of Judah Friedlander’s trucker hats, Watts stands out amongst most comics you’d see on an average night out. Every quirk about him, however, never comes off as disingenuous; it’s just a natural extension of his personality among the new “commodification of weird” the mainstream seems to be so in love with at the moment.
“It’s bullshit. You can sense it. Like Mylie Cyrus or these people trying to make transitions from being known as a mainstream person to being an eccentric person. Or James Franco suddenly becoming an artist. All these ‘I’m eccentric. I’m strange. I’m into weird things.’ and maybe they were, but the image they projected in the beginning had no evidence of that so it rings disingenuous.
Like Lady Gaga, I don’t believe her. I don’t believe her as an artist. There’s nothing to buy. Nothing she projects resonates with me. I mean, Missy Elliot back in the ‘90s when she was doing those videos, I was like, ‘She’s a fucking genius! Look at these videos! And these songs are incredible!’”
Not wanting to dwell on the negative for too long, Watts quickly points out that there’s always a shift to what people embrace and accept in mainstream culture, and that the pendulum will eventually have to swing back to something completely different.
“The only weapon that can cut through all that is sincerity. It seems people are tired of being hipsters and co-opting that image of Dylan and the ‘60s. When I see people saying that they’re weird or strange or whatever, it’s just a means for them to gain some sort of legitimacy. It doesn’t work. It works for pop fans cause it feels different for them and it’s different, but it isn’t necessarily genuine.”
Reggie Watts doesn’t seem to be too bothered by what people think of him, or their pre-conceived ideas of what comedy should be. He enjoys challenging his own abilities a musician, storyteller and improviser while challenging his audience to experience it with him.
“I’m just trying to surprise myself; maybe I repeat things and I’m not aware of it, but at least for me if feels fresh, then I’m doing a good job; and by ‘good job’ I mean being very confusing.”