TBTS National Treasures: Reggie Watts
Welcome, dear reader. Today we honor a person who repeatedly impresses, and we should lament his or her lack of adequate recognition. This person has so excelled at a chosen art form to the point of having become a source of national pride. This person is duly and hereby granted the honorific “TBTS National Treasure.”
The ideas of satirically intellectual music, of stream-of-consciousness social commentary, of living a character are not new in the comedy business. I can’t think of many people who are able to nail all three quite as well as Reggie Watts.
Studied in art, music, theater, and sketch comedy, Watts exemplifies the modern performance humorist. He cut his teeth in Seattle, fronting a dizzyingly diverse selection of bands before breaking out on his own to do improvised, solo musical performance with little more than a looper and a digital echo unit for backup. For much of the 2000s, he did comedy web shorts for various sites like CollegeHumor.com and in 2010 he scored the coveted opening slot for Conan O’Brien’s Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour where his quasi-manic, fast-paced, “I can’t always tell if he’s joking” style reached a wide audience who absolutely Ate. His. Shit. UP.
At 40, Watts’ performances now run the gamut from beat-boxing, improvised song composition, voices, characters, and a little light physical comedy all couched in subtle, generalized satire of hip-hop and other musical genres, celebrity, and the self-important, “big idea” folks you normally see on those insufferable TED Talks (which he did as a TED Talk). His appearances, no matter how brief, are hilarious and thought-provoking. His off-the-cuff, musical compositions are nothing short of astonishing purely from a technical standpoint. But then he goes and makes them funny as he howls away like some R&B crooner or pours forth a lyrical stream that just barely makes grammatical and semantic sense.
And so, Mr. Watts, you are a TBTS National Treasure. In fact, you’re our first inductee. Keep doing what you do. Whatever that is.