What to make of Reggie Watts? Is he a trained comedian (most probably) or a crazy man with a passion for terrifically awful sweaters and/or suspenders who speaks his mind while spinning irresistible siren songs that combine beautiful, seemingly created-on-the-spot music with asinine (intentionally so) lyrics? Take some sample lyrics from his song "F*** S*** Stack," probably the most commercial effort this writer has seen from Watts:
I like women
I like the concept of a woman
I like to take that concept and reduce it to an object
I like to take those objects and put 'em in my videos
Have them shake they jiggly bits so they looks like hoes
It helps to add that the video is send-up of hip-hop tropes delivered in the most literal sense possible and combined with images that occasionally wouldn't look out of place on late-night MTV way back when.
Watts is funny, no doubt, but he's also thought-provoking simply by being there, on stage, performing an act that feels cobbled together from half formed thoughts and bits of noise but coalesces into a beautiful melody. John Leguizamo at his comedic pinnacle gave you a fully functional family history one grew to know over two hours. Louis C.K. bleeds pathos but usually holds your hand through all the hardships played for laughs. Watts materializes, gives you a piece of his mind, makes music that he grooves to wholeheartedly and then he's gone. The act itself is meant to get you thinking, perhaps, but not leave you with the message. The act is the message - it's Watts' performance, his persona, the sheer unpredictability of it all.
If there's anything to be said for Watts appearance at Central Park, it's that he seems to be having more fun than the audience. Mercilessly playing off of expectations, the gifted comic is able to riff while injecting some pre-written material in there (or perhaps it's all on the fly, and he's just that good - doubtful). An aside of how gun silencers are misrepresented in the media is worth a chuckle even if it's not especially memorable. What this writer would venture stays with most viewers are the musical performances.
They, for lack of a better word, groovy. Another word would be spacey, with Watts looping sounds created via his completely adept beatboxing or the piano present. It's a complete package, a mini-concert created in the moment - there's little doubt here that Watts may plan a certain schematic but he's prepared to toss it out the window or at least fudge with it a little bit. The lyrics accompanying the music are both unnecessary and essential? Why so contrarian? Because the instrumentals Watts delivers can stand alone but they rarely do since the comedy comes from the juxtaposition of lyrics setting down iron clad rules for whether you or aren't having sex or possibly idle thoughts that the comedian whips into action mid-song.
The DVD is under an hour but the set is actually even shorter and supplemented by short segments on how Watts ended up doing a show at Central Park. Naturally this means Watts starring as an academic trapped within a dream within a dream, or something along those lines. The segments aren't especially funny but feature a playful ease that may come from a combination of some strange plotting and an apparent shoestring budget.
The widescreen transfer included on the accompanying DVD feels at first like an afterthought, but it's nice to see that the showrunners took care to deliver a professionally mounted record of Watts at work. It's a solid transfer, clean and lacking any notable video issues.
Despite not being noted anywhere on the disc (neither the menu nor the packaging mentions it), there's reason to believe there is a standard 5.1 mix at play here. It does a fine job at capturing the sizeable crowd response and Watts' musical creations, intricately designed and requiring a thorough listen at least twice.
The audio CD (although the DVD is really the extra) is the lone supplement, and a worthy one at that - featuring a whopping 20 minutes not included in the filmed special, it's a welcome addition to all-too-brief Watts special, clocking in at only 43:03.
For some, Watts is a magic man, a comedic shaman who conjures up humor from whatever dubious dimension Andy Kaufman passed on to. For others, he's a quirky comic and a skilled musician peddling hit or miss material. This author plants his feet closer to the magic man theory and that's why this fairly barebones DVD comes Highly Recommended.
The best of the five boroughs is now represented. Brooklyn in the house! I'm a hardworking film writer, blogger, boyfriend and hopeful Corgi owner. Find me on Twitter @markzhur and on Tumblr at Our Elaborate Plans...