Reggie Watts in The Club
By: Drew Hoshkiw
| Posted: Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 06:00 am
Pushing the boundaries of comedy and music, experimental performance artist Reggie Watts is coming to Banff.
He’ll perform at The Club at The Banff Centre, Wednesday (Oct. 17). The show is by donation.
Originally born in Germany to French and American parents, Watts lived in Europe before relocating to Great Falls, Mont. and then Seattle.
Now based in Brooklyn, New York, Watts has built up a reputation for innovative work as a solo standup artist, in theatre and on television, and is most known for his endeavours with Conan O’Brien.
He’s now coming to The Banff Centre to instruct at an Experimental Comedy Training Camp.
“Michael Portnoy, who’s involved with the organization, suggested I come up and do the training camp,” said Watts, in an interview with the Outlook.
“I’ve never been to Banff, the closest I’ve been is Seattle and Montana,” he said. “This completes the triangle.
“I’ll be talking about the idea of experimental comedy. I’m there to talk about my experience being on stage, improvisation, experimental comedy – that’s about the extent of what I know – it’s crazy.”
Experimental comedy is to approach the artform from untraditional angles, he said, with less of an emphasis on jokes.
“It’s the idea of trying to approach comedy from various angles, not only limited to writing jokes and standup and things of that sort,” he explained. “Using physical humour or confusion or strange lighting methods or disruption or subversion of language, using music in interesting ways or just restructuring jokes and subverting their idea – it’s really just anything that makes people laugh.
“I think of what I do as experimental comedy because I’m not really telling jokes, I’m just improvising on the stage, making fun of language and behaviour and music and mixing it up with absurdity, but also some sincere things as well. Any tool that I have available to me.”
He sees himself as being a “comedic performance artist,” not just a comedian.
“I’m trying to take people on a confusing ride,” he said. “I like the idea of confusing people to the point at which they have to surrender to the experience, as opposed to trying to figure things out and have their expectations met.”
Exposure to less traditional comedy as a child, said Watts, is what led him to develop this style.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of silliness and the absurd – since watching the Muppet Show or Monty Python as a kid. Those are influential experiences that have led me to appreciate the absurd and the abstract and the surreal,” he said. “For me, that’s much more interesting than going out and writing a bunch of jokes and figuring out a show and an act, it’s easier to have things be fragmented and come to mind when they do.
“Although I do appreciate my peers – I perform in a lot of standup comedy clubs, and I love when people have great jokes – I’m not against it, just for me personally, I’m not really wired to do it that way.”
Watts is very busy with other work at the moment.
“I’m part of a consortium that’s launching a YouTube website soon – it’s a bunch of great comedians coming together to make a site of putting up dumb videos,” he said. “And I’m working on an animated piece with a production company, and other than that, there might be another season of Comedy Bang! Bang! and I’m developing a lot of other shows.”
In addition to the training camp, Watts will also give a performance which is open to the public. At that show, however, Watts is uncertain what he’ll be doing.
“I don’t really know what I’ll be doing – I never know until I get on stage,” he said. “I suppose it’ll be the summation of my experience at Banff at that point.”