Speakeasy with Reggie Watts

Watts opens for Conan O’Brien tonight at the Fox

Image With a wide-ranging set of skills that includes beat-boxing, singing, and playing instruments, comedian/vocalist Reggie Watts puts on an all-encompassing, live performance that is hard to duplicate, even for him. More impressive than the amount of art forms Watts exhibits in his act is the fact that almost all of it’s improvised on a nightly basis. That spontaneous creativity, and the variety of mediums Watts uses to display it, is so impressive that Conan O’Brien selected Watts to be the opening act for the duration of his current “Prohibited” tour, which comes to the Fox Theatre tonight. Watts recently spoke to us about the effects of his diverse interests, the necessary fusion he constructs from comedy and music, and why it’s fucking sweet to have friends who write for Conan.

You’re labeled as many things — a comedian, musician, beat-boxer, and vocalist — but are you more of one than any other? Do you prefer one art form to the rest?
I like comedy and music equally. I would say that music is the most spiritually sustainable to me, so I need it in my act because I love it so much. All the different things I do are just like tools around me to use, and at the core is a creative person figuring out how to use them all as different forms of expression.

Do your talents always go together, or do you sometimes play music or perform comedy exclusively?
I’ve done comedy sets with no music at all, and it’s kind of liberating and good to know that I can do it, but I enjoy music being included. Music is a performance-enhancing drug for me.

Did you get involved in music or comedy first?
I mean, I’ve always been a goof, but I didn’t get formally involved with comedy until I was in high school. I’ve been playing music since I was 5, so for about 33 years.

Well you found a lot of success by combining music and comedy, with your hit single “Fuck Shit Stack.” On that song were you taking shots at hip-hop culture, or just making a parody video? What was your motivation?
It’s kind of a parody, but not really a parody. I love hip-hop, the beats and the lyrics, but what I hate about it is all the clichés. It’s all in fun though. I love poking fun at stuff that’s out there just to show how absurd things are. Some of the songs have so much meaningless profanity, so “Fuck Shit Stack” has a lot of profanity in it because I wanted to out-profanity hip-hop.