SXSW 2015: Genius Reggie Watts destroys at Jash showcase

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Reggie Watts at SXSW. (Credit: Matthew Odam)
Reggie Watts at SXSW. (Credit: Matthew Odam)

Reggie Watts at SXSW. (Credit: Matthew Odam)

It’s fitting that Reggie Watts would perform his unique musical comedy at a tech festival where the buzzword “disruptive” is trotted out so frequently.

There is nothing more disrputive than Watts. He synthesizes popular music forms — from hip-hop to reggae to old-school soul — using beat-boxing and loops to create a fascinating and hilarious mosaic of sound and ideas.

He will switch things up on a dime, going from a spitfire rap to the serious deadpan of a surrealist straight man. The wild-haired comic performed at a showcase for comedy YouTube channel Jash (of which he is a partner0 on Saturday during SXSW Interactive, leaving the audience wide-eyed and dumbfounded with his genius.

Watts started his set with a nonsensical David Brent-esque pitch, aping tech buzzwords and speaking in circular illogic. The set displayed his incredible vocal range, as he simultaneously mocked and celebrated popular music with the charisma and style of a man that feels incredibly at home on stage. It’s hard to explain what Watts does, but I think at its heart, Watts’ act is about tapping into the collective unconscious and the way absurdism resonates with us all so deeply. He creates jokes and bits that seem obvious but that nobody has ever been able to express.

After Watts destroyed the room for about a half hour, Kurt Braunohler and Wyatt Cenac had the misfortune of following with brief sets. They put on brave faces, but as Braunohler said when he took the stage, Reggie Watts is a closer. Trying to follow him is impossible. I’m surprised the building was still standing when he left the stage. The man is a comic genius, and he will leave you laugh-crying in awe.


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