Reggie Watts’ live performances often are described as disorienting or just plain weird.
Perhaps that’s because his shows are completely improvised from start to finish and include a mixture of music, comedy, sound effects and poetry. These days, Watts can be found on the IFC series “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and the YouTube channel Jash, which he co-founded with Michael Cera, Sarah Silverman and Tim & Eric. Watts also has been known to show up on stage with bands ranging from LCD Soundsystem to Devo.
amNewYork spoke with Watts.
Who inspired you to combine music and comedy?
Victor Borge was a guy that as a young kid I saw on “Sesame Street” and performing live. “The Muppet Show” had a lot of funny music bits. I always knew it was possible. [I liked] Steve Martin and his banjo stuff or Andy Kaufman’s Mighty Mouse bit. Eddie Murphy with “too hot in the hot tub.” Weird Al Yankovic. All of them used music to comedic effect.
What you do is pretty different from Weird Al or a group like Andy Samberg’s The Lonely Island.
The Lonely Island is a little more focused on a gag. It’s awesome, but I can’t do stuff like that. ? I’m more attracted to absurdity for absurdity’s sake. I like messing around with language or a stereotype. That’s more fun for me.
You have a series of videos on Jash where you teach history, music and more. Did you ever want to be a teacher?
I like the fantasy of a teacher or a professor, having a position of power and being able to espouse ideas and make people think. In practice, it requires way too much work. My hat goes off to teachers.
What else are you working on?
I have a special in the works. I’ve also been pitching a science fiction show. ? It’s a high-concept, lo-fi, sci-fi show. Think of it as really cheap on the special effects, but really hot on the dramatic commitment.
If you go: Reggie Watts, Wednesday, June 18, Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St., 8 p.m., $42-$57