Episode #12: Reggie Watts

Reggie Watts and I go all the way back to the very beginnings of The Comic’s Comic and even before that.

I had moved out of Seattle by the time Watts emerged on the scene there as a show-stopping force, not only as singer and frontman for the band Maktub (where I first experienced Watts on tour), but also as a unique comedic talent who won the Andy Kaufman Award. Watts was co-hosting the Andy Kaufman Award finals with fellow past winner Kristen Schaal at the HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas in November 2007 on the weekend when I officially launched thecomicscomic.com. At the comedians’ lounge in a makeshift conference room inside Caesars Palace, I challenged Reggie Watts (well, it may not have been a real challenge and definitely not a bet, although we shook on it — so it counts!) to see which of us could achieve mainstream success and acceptance for what we were doing on the fringes of “normality.”

Suffice it to say, many more people appreciate the genius that is Reggie Watts today. Watts supplies the beats and loops to several TV shows, including Key & Peele on Comedy Central and The Jim Gaffigan Show on TV Land. For several years, Watts served as sidekick and musical leader on IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! with Scott Aukerman, and this year, became the bandleader on The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS.

Watts spoke about how he approaches a show with virtually no preparation whatsoever, how he has learned to improvise, what that meant even in his youth growing up in Montana, how working with James Corden is different from pairing up with Scott Aukerman, and what it took for CBS to sell him on working five nights a week for potentially years on end.

And he told me all of this at 2:30 a.m. Sunday following a virtuoso performance on his final night at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, as we rendezvoused afterward in the business office of JFL, mere feet away from the afterparty networking and mayhem by comedians and show business executives in the lounge of the Montreal Hyatt. It was just after 3 a.m. in the lounge when I turned my iPhone on us for the photo above.

It’s always a delight to interact with Reggie Watts, and I hope you enjoy this and him as much as I do.

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Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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