Comedy review: Reggie Watts @ Union Chapel, 18.11.12

Russell Cook enjoys the ramblings of Brooklyn comic / musician Reggie Watts at one of London's most unique live venues.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 29th Nov 2012

Acclaimed US comedian / musician Reggie Watts is hot property on the other side of the pond, having been handpicked for Conan O' Brien's 'Prohibited From Being Funny on Television' tour, whilst appearing regularly on TV on shows like 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon', HBO's 'The Yes Men Save The World', and Comedy Central's 'Michael and Michael Have Issues' - along with providing guest vocals on Regina Spektor's Dance Anthem of the 80s. Additionally, Reggie has been involved in a whole host of other works Stateside, including putting together original music for Louis CK's show, 'Louis' on FX. But, it's here in the UK where things are really exciting for Reggie right now - as here he is performing to a completely sold-out and massively excited Union Chapel audience in the heart of Islington.

It's quite a space to ply your trade, and being a comic / musician hybrid, Reggie seems excited by the prospect of the chapel's grandiosity and its distinctive acoustic qualities. Indeed, he quickly uses the unique venue to his full advantage; taking his beats and melodies down to a whisper and lifting them back up to a roar that, with the audience's laughter, resonates around the room's many walls and ceilings into an eruption.

Riffing from the off, in what seems like mostly an improvised fashion, Reggie's style of ad-libbed musical comedy feels right on the pulse. His dry deconstruction of new Bond movie, 'Skyfall' has the audience reelin; they seem like they'd be quite happy for him to ramble all day long - and that's exactly what he does for another 10 minutes at least, repeatedly asking the sucked-in crowd, "is ling ton?" The joke shouldn't be funny, but it is. There, take that and bottle it; It sums up the nonsensical and educated infantilism that comprises big swathes of Reggie's humour.

Nonsense aside, there is a lot of wit and social awareness to Reggie's set, and couple that with the mindboggling musical orchestrations that he is putting together on the spot - in an a cappella fashion nonetheless, using nothing more than his own voice and a loop pedal - the set is like one big freestyle, which, considering his spoofed deployment of the hip- hop genre, is actually quite fitting. Throughout, it's full of satirical swipes at Druids and Romans, and at iPhones, credit cards and an endless expanse of anything else that pops into his head, whilst his singing voice is unique in itself, and his sense of rhythm make him something really quite special.

Words: Russell Cook

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