Reggie Watts is not for everyone. I get that. I’m not even certain he’s for me. Anything that traffics in the kind of stream-of-consciousness surrealism comedy/performance that Reggie Watts takes part in is bound to be hit and miss at times, and often comes down to whether or not people feel like they “get it.” Talk to anyone who has watched an episode of a show like Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show, or the work of Tim & Eric, and you can see how big of a difference that distinction can be for the viewer.
Reggie Watts tempers some of the difficulty of his act by showcasing his abilities as a beat-boxer and improvisational lyricist, two skills he is quite adept at. While “Fuck Shit Stack” is a studio-recorded piece that doesn’t have the same improv energy of a live piece, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s very close to however it came out the first time Watts performed the song.
After some initial linguistic cleverness, Watts starts by making sure his song will never be on television, at least not until they bring George Carlin back to life and give him his own broadcasting company. It’s vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity, and it’s in line with Watts’ way of saying something without really saying anything. From there, Watts treats each verse as a chance to try on a new voice, creating an entire imaginary group that lives within all the cliched excesses of hip-hop culture. At this point, calling attention to those cliches has itself become cliched. When Watts talks about unnecessarily wearing a bullet-proof vest or turning women into objects for his videos, he isn’t saying anything new, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth saying. More importantly, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t still comedy to be found there, and it’s this ground that Watts mines expertly. Every verse holds up as a gem, comic excess on top of actual excess, but the final verse detailing British Reggie’s plans for flat-screen display monitors has become my personal favorite. It’s possible that my fondness for it is simply an extension of my memory of this and it’s original source, but even without that, it’s hard not to love the idea of leaving two packed up on the back seat just for his friends to break.
In a comedic cultural age that gives us things like Adult Swim and FXX, not to mention what can be found online, the fringes of the mainstream aren’t as dark and dingy as they may have once been, and a career built on those fringes is no small feat. With comedy and music this good, it’s worth spending some time out there.
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