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Naked Emperor

Baffling performer Reggie Watts drops a mélange of mixed-up material lacking definition or merit.

Comedy Central regularly releases pretty high quality stand-up CDs and DVDs, and Jester regularly reviews them. But with Reggie Watts “Why S#!+ So Crazy?” out May 18, that standard seems to have been forgotten.

It’s hard to tell what to make of Watts, whose act is an unfocused mix of music, rap, beatboxing, odd stories and pseudo-comedic non sequiturs. The album is a CD/DVD package, and the DVD, an uncensored version of his Comedy Central special, shows him in front of a succession of Brooklyn audiences who all seem unduly enthralled with Watts, beyond all justification.

On stage, Watts at times seems to be attempting something high-concept like Andy Daly’s routine that mocks the conventions of stand-up comedy by going on about nothing, only in the manner of a hyper stand-up comic (on the “Comedy Death-Ray” compilation CD, see review, 9/11/07). But Watts doesn’t even come close to pulling off a high-wire act like that. 

The companion CD on Watts’ album, like other parts of his performance captured on the DVD, is similar “material” – but in both cases, it’s a collection of blurted, disconnected thoughts. About the only achievement, and it’s not even close to carrying a whole album, is the track “My History Thus Far” where Watts does put together, all to one backing jazzy beatbox a capella vocal, a stream of consciousness tale, although even this remains random thoughts, no narrative at all.

Watts’ audiences may be enjoying all the unexpected little references he throws into what he does – and what he does on stage is impossible to define, because it’s so lacking in focus. Names of medications and fantasy mythology are just a couple of the totems that make their way into this mess, to knowing reactions. But it’s baffling what Watts’ following sees that no one else does. Their emperor forgot to put on an act.




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