Saturday, September 6, 2014

Reggie Watts @ Vogue Theatre -- 09/04/14

Every so often, my love of music and my love of comedy dovetail perfectly, and the co-host and "house band" on Comedy Bang! Bang!, Reggie Watts, is one of the best examples. He played a sold-out show at the Vogue (or "The Vag" as he pronounced it) this week, with his perfect blend of humour and song.

Taking the stage with an outrageous, Cosbian sweater, Watts starting off with some standup. Or his version of it. While it's tough to review comedy (since it is arguably even more subjective than music) Watts' style of humour is right up my alley. Dry and absurd, taking strange twists and turns in his narratives, or playing ridiculous characters & concepts completely straight, his comedy rambles along at a good clip. He covered everything from Canada's (fictional) history to (fictional) upcoming shows at the Vogue. I've seen Watts a few times now and I am still not sure if he has "material" or if everything is just off the top of his head (along with that glorious hair of his). He even pushed the envelope with a couple jokes that had half the crowd howling, half the crowd nervously stiff.

But where Watts really impresses is his musical talents. Too often I've seen comedians use music as a crutch, not really that good at either, but that is certainly not the case with Watts. He had a table with a loop station on one side of the stage, and a keyboard on the other.

They keys were used only briefly, and even then the first song it wasn't even on while he played dramatically. The second showcased perfectly Watts' improvisation, as half way through the song someone near the front ran off to the washroom, and Watts incorporated that, spinning the song into that direction.

But it was his beatboxing and looping that really had the crowd eating right out of his plastic fork hand. With sparse bass and synth from his sampler, and the occasional tweaking of knobs to change the pitch, distort, or pan the sound from one side of the theatre to the other, all of that was just to backup and enhance his looped beatboxing. Using it either as the main focus of the song, or as the backing to then sing (or rap) over them with stream-of-consciousness rhymes -- or even just incomprehensible syllables and noises. It had the crowd mesmerised and by the end of the night, the front of the stage filled with people dancing.

There's an old theory/joke that all comedians wish they were musicians, and all musicians wish they were comedians. I have no idea what Reggie Watts wishes he was, because he excels at both.

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