From Conan O'Brien's lips to your ears and eyes: Last night, he said that Reggie Watts would be taping tonight's free show at NYC's Central Park SummerStage (with opener Natasha Leggero). Hmmm. Interesting. We like this!
But first. Watts returned to Conan to do what he does best, which is winging it and making music and comedy on the fly. This time Watts enlisted the "Basic Cable Band" at the end to create a new song. Fun times. Roll the clip!
Reggie Watts stopped by Conan last night just in time for the holidays. You know which ones he's talking about. Watch as Watts opens up his big book of parables for some timely lessons, and shares a new song to sing along. If you know the words, sing along!
Ho Ho Ho, everybody!
I don't know too many comedians who can spend their first minute of a TV appearance on absolute nonsense, in an accent, follow it up with multiple voices, misdirects, looping loopiness, hip-hop wizardry, scatting, an impersonation of a Muppet, and end it all within five minutes leaving the audience in a state of pure joy. But I do know Reggie Watts. And he does this sort of thing all the time.
Reggie Watts appeared last night on Conan. Don't be surprised to see him again on your TVs soon enough.
My friends at The Laugh Button and The Syndicate threw a special midnight show at CMJ last month with Comedy Central, and asked if I'd like to chat with some of the comedians. I said sure. We set up shop in the basement of Comix, dreamed up the impossibly creative title "The Comic's Comic at Comix," and invited the comedians into our lair.
Saving the best for last means it's time for Reggie Watts to join me in the comedy corner!
Reggie and go back a ways, but this is the first time someone else has documented us on camera, so this is a thing. Also a thing: In just a few minutes, you'll see and hear him talk to me about growing up creatively, that moment in which audiences figure out what Reggie Watts is all about, his pilot presentation for Comedy Central, and maybe, just maybe, some news about Watts and the new Conan show. He'll be a guest on the second week of Conan O'Brien's TBS run, on Tuesday, Nov. 16. But we hear, and by we, I mean I hear that you'll be seeing Reggie Watts on your basic cable (or satellite, I suppose) TV more regularly.
Did you enjoy these little sit-downs with stand-ups? We sure did. Tell my buddies at The Laugh Button to make some more. And maybe when we do, we can be promoting you!
Rare is the show that receives enough widespread raves to double the audience overnight, only to then exceed everyone's expectations. This was that show. This was the show, unless something happens in the next two nights of Just For Laughs in Montreal to eclipse it. This was AMP'd.
Musical comedy acts such as Hard n' Phirm and Garfunkel and Oates are in Montreal this week, and they walked with me up the hill to Cabaret Juste Pour Rire on Thursday night to find out what everyone had been buzzing about from the night before. You know how there are some acts that are so good you don't necessarily want to follow them. Beardyman is that kind of act. And he was the host. So everyone had to folllow him.
Somewhere between Bobby McFerrin and Reggie Watts is a beatboxer-singer-comedian who is British and Jewish named Beardyman, and he is a headliner in his own right. His overwhelming talent blew up the capacity crowd right from the start, and made everyone else up their games.
Axis of Awesome, an Australia trio, demonstrated how every great and popular song relies on the same four chords, all in one song (and even included a Tim Minchin bit, to the delight of the crowd, those cheeky bastards!). The Doo Wops, winners of JFL's Homegrown Competition back in 2001, were back with a series of short musical bits that ended with a longer number in tribute to the "Crazy Bush." Where do you even start with Bridget Everett? With Kenny Mellman backing her on the piano, Everett announced: "I'm a good, old-fashioned American slut!" and proved it within the first minutes (and again later) by lifting up her dress. She wore panties this night, we can all attest to that. And we also testify to the fact that two young girls providing backup singing and rapping skills on a cover of Rihanna's "Hard" is hard to follow. "There is absolutely nothing I can say to make it make any more sense," Beardyman said immediately afterward. Bo Burnham wowed the crowd, per usual, dropping hard rhymes behind the keys and then standing up in between to break down stand-up comedy cliches. Solid work from the young man, who continues to grow both literally and figuratively in comedy. Tim Minchin presumably would be closing out the show. Beardyman joined him for a song as they ad-libbed a number and Minchin "outed" Beardyman as Darren. Then Minchin played his cheeky profanity-filled rant against the Pope. But that was not to be all, folks. Beardyman asked for an encore, and an encore we all received when Reggie Watts emerged as a special guest, and then he asked both Beardyman and Minchin to join him for a jam to close out the show. This video I shot will not do justice to it. But I share it with you, anyhow, in the hopes that you can enjoy the rare sight of three musical comedy geniuses performing onstage together. Roll it.
The first person we see on tonight's TBS special, Team Coco Presents The Conan Writers Live, is a writer of the online variety as Team Coco's blogger Aaron Bleyaert visits the dressing room of host Andy Richter.
The first person we see performing onstage is Reggie Watts, the musical talent and Team Coco's opening act on this spring's North American theater tour as suggested by Conan's TV writers. Watts provides the special's theme music and also delivers a rather straightforward -- well, in as much as anything Watts does can be construed as straightforward -- song about women who carry big ass purses.
And as Richter notes in his opening monologue, it's a wonder any of the writers are getting primetime TV exposure, joking: "The main reason you're getting to see them at all is because Conan cannot be on TV until the fall. And as I think everybody knows by now, Conan is very easily threatened and unbelievably insecure. So he has been keeping these guys down for years. But not tonight!"
As for the writers who we do get to see on TV, Brian Kiley kicks things off properly with a tight five-minute set of his well-crafted one-liners about parenting. After the first commercial break, Richter introduces Deon Cole by noting that Cole had performed so well as a stand-up on Conan's show that they hired him to join the writing staff full-time. Cole, a native of the Chicago suburbs, joked about curing a hangover with a hangover, what it's like to be the only black person in the writers' room, and closed with a routine about the things black and white people don't want to do in front of the other race.
Jimmy Pardo, the warm-up comedian for Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show audiences, gets a shout-out for his Never Not Funny podcast in Richter's introduction. And I'm going to avoid the trap Pardo set for bloggers, instead choosing to focus on his otherwise meta routine and his one-liner roast of Watts, who remained onstage throughout the taping: "What don't you have: Scissors or a mirror?"
Josh Comers got introduced with the selling point of still having "that new writer smell." Comers wondered why little girls would ever wear a T-shirt saying "You Wish" across the chest, what it's like when your landlord is a Holocaust survivor, and boasted that one joke makes him lose 10 Facebook friends every time he tells it. You'll know it when you hear it.
Andres du Bouchet closes out the special, and Richter introduced him as a veteran of the NYC comedy scene since 1996 and, for Conan's viewers, as the "Tiger Woods joke caddy." Du Bouchet came out in character with a smoking jacket and gave the audience a preview of the one-man musical about his life: "100 and Me Percent: The Andres du Bouchet Saga." And yes, he did include the number about 9/11.
For those of you keeping track, Matt O'Brien and Dan Cronin also performed sets at the tapings which did not make it to broadcast. Eric Andre also provided an energetic stand-up routine as the warm-up comedian.
Team Coco Presents The Conan Writers Live debuts at 10 p.m. Eastern tonight on TBS.
The Team Coco presents The Conan Writers Live was a big hit last night at Chicago's Bank of America Theater, but I can tell you that perhaps it was too much of a big hit.
The show, hosted by Andy Richter and featuring musical wonders from Reggie Watts, included stand-up sets from eight of the writers for Conan O'Brien's short-lived edition of The Tonight Show on NBC. But there's only room for six of them to perform on the 60-minute special, set to air on TBS at 10 p.m. Sunday, June 27. So who will make the cut? What if they all performed well during the taping? Couldn't TBS just extend the special to 90 minutes if it's all "very funny"? The special debuts late on a Sunday after the Ellen DeGeneres variety special, so it's not as if they're going to push anything major off the air to make do. A quick look at the schedule listings for June 27 shows that TBS plans to immediately repeat both Ellen and Coco, followed by a 1 a.m. rebroadcast of the movie, Vegas Vacation. I'm sure Chevy wouldn't mind getting bumped, right?
As for the show itself, it was more than a little heartwarming to see the audience immediately take to Watts even before the taping itself began. I had to scramble to find a seat because my seat in Row G had been (mild spoiler alert?) occupied by a young Conan doppelganger.
Host Andy Richter explained onstage that since Conan himself cannot be on the special -- due to the terms he negotiated upon his exit from NBC -- that meant his writers would get to have this time in the limelight. "Tonight they get to tell their dick jokes in their own voices!" Richter boasted.
Except now it looks like two of them might not get to be seen on TV. That's not fun. To add to the awkwardness, none of "The Conan Writers" actually have jobs with TBS yet. Yes. You read that right. TBS has signed Conan, but since he, Richter and some of his writers have been spending their entire spring on a North American theater tour, the budgeting for the new late-night show on TBS has not included hiring any of the writers. Of course, you'd suspect that anyone Conan brought along on his official "Team Coco" tour and branded on the TV as "The Conan Writers" would be reasonably assured of a full-time writing job in the fall. Just like you'd reasonably think they'd get their time on TV next weekend. Right? Right???
UPDATED: For those of you wondering, the eight sets did not include any of the sketch performers from Conan's various late-night TV shows, but did include Matt O'Brien, Jimmy Pardo, Josh Comers, Brian Kiley, Andres du Bouchet, Dan Cronin, Deon Cole and a Reggie Watts set.
As I predicted the moment TBS signed up Conan O'Brien for late-night, the cable network has announced that it'll be taping a TBS special with Team Coco for Just For Laughs Chicago!
With a catch. It's not going to be an exact replica of the Team Coco live show currently touring North America (The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour). Rather, it's thus-far including everything but Conan himself, with sidekick Andy Richter, several of Conan's writers and his tour's opening act Reggie Watts performing in something with a working title of "Team Coco presents Conan's Writers Live." It'll fit into the schedule on Thursday, June 17, at the Bank of America Theater -- and air on TBS on Sunday, June 27. (Tickets go on sale May 28)
JFL Chicago also announced two other additions to its festival schedule, which runs June 15-19:
Uncle's Brother, a trio featuring Tim Meadows, Joe Canale and Brad Morris, will perform their blend of stand-up, improv and sketch at the Annoyance Theatre at 10 p.m. Friday, June 18.
Drinking Buddies will bring T.J. Miller together with Kyle Kinane, Mike Bridenstine and James Fritz for what's described as "loose, off-the-cuff comedy" at 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, at the Lincoln Lodge. A screening of Miller's short film, Successful Alcoholics, will follow.
Reggie Watts is a musician. Reggie Watts is a comedian. But he is much more than just a musical comedian. He has a way with words, sounds and concepts that plays with your expectations of music and comedy and twists them into a pretzel that tastes so much better than any pretzel you've ever eaten, so much so that you wonder, where did he make his dough?
Every performance by Watts -- currently on tour as the opening act for Conan O'Brien -- is a singular sensation, as individual as the man himself. That tour certainly is exposing Watts to a much wider audience, and you and they will be pleased to know that he has a new CD and DVD out today, "Why S#!+ So Crazy," on Comedy Central Records. The network also is airing his 54-minute DVD overnight tonight from 2:30-3:45 a.m. (stay up late or set your DVRs!).
Much of the CD is live, and at the end of a 15-minute track in which Watts describes his life story and some of his personal choices, a fan yells out "You're a genius, Reggie Watts!" It's a testament to his "genius" that for as many times as I have seen him live over the years, barely any of his past performances shows up (save for "F@<% S#!+ Stack," which is a recorded music track as well as a music video that follows the live DVD showcase) in either the 54-minute CD or the 54-minute DVD. The CD is great, but the DVD may be even greater. Taking some visual cues from Chris Rock (by filming and splicing shows in three separate venues; in Watts' case, Galapagos, Le Poisson Rouge and the Bell House, all in NYC) and the Woodstock documentary (watch as Watts multiplies in split screens!), you really need to see Watts to get the full flavor of his experience. Here's a "remix" his friends have made as a trailer. Roll it!
And if your mind still is not computing any of this, let me try a handy show-bidness mash-up cliche for you: What if Andy Kaufman and Bobby McFerrin were brothers from the same mother and combined their DNA into a son of a gun who had a looping machine? That be Reggie Watts.
You can try to be Reggie Watts and play with this soundboard, but you'll find out you're not him. There's only one him, and he is he, and you are you and you can be happy with who you are by enjoying him and buying his new record.
And if you'd like to see him live but couldn't get a ticket to the Team Coco road show, and you live in NYC, know that Reggie Watts will throw a record release party after the tour is over, July 1 at Le Poisson Rouge.
The live North American tour for Conan O'Brien and company debuted last night in Eugene, Ore., and both press and fans were there in force to document and spoiler alert the whole thing!
So if you have tickets to an upcoming show, or don't have tickets, do you want to know what you're in for? If you saw the headline, then you must be OK knowing these things, or seeing that Andy Richter is there, as is Triumph the Insult Dog, as is the Masturbating Bear, who turns into the Self-Pleasuring Panda as to avoid NBC repercussions for intellectual property...
Among those filing early reviews and recaps were The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times, as well as locally by the Eugene Register-Guard. Team Coco also has its blogger Aaron Bleyaert filing reports from the road.
Reggie Watts is onboard as the opening act and apparently gets a solid half-hour and then some to razzle dazzle audiences with his musical comedy genius.
But there's plenty of music to follow from Conan and his band (except no Max?). Here's a fan clip of Conan performing "I Will Survive" with some changed lyrics. The tour continues through June.
I know all of you got so excited yesterday about Conan O'Brien's live North America theater tour that you promptly bought up as many tickets as you could (including most if not all of the two nights here in NYC at Radio City Music Hall). But did you notice who his opening act is going to be???
Yes. Audiences everywhere are going to be in for a treat. Those who frequent this site or know anything about comedy already pretty much know and love Watts. Those who don't know him yet and experience him for the first time, usually go from wha? to hahahah! And now this. Comedy Central has its first sneak peak at the CD/DVD combo that Watts has coming to an actual or digital storefront near you on May 18. It's called, "Why Shit So Crazy?!" And if you recall my earlier post on Watts holding auditions for the music video of one of his most popular songs, then you can see how that turned out now. The recorded version of "Fuck Shit Stack" is stripped down from some of its urgency that Watts normally projects live, but I think it's an interesting choice, because it allows you to focus on the surrealism of the visuals. Instead of attacking you with a sonic assault, it's more of a kick-back and let it soak in kind of vibe. And, oh, hey Kumail.
Are you ready for this? I said, are you ready for this? Roll the clip!
So the great Reggie Watts alerted me (and maybe you) today that a casting call has gone out for people to appear in a music video for, as the notice says, "one of his more popular songs" for his upcoming DVD. I think we already agree that his "F*ck Sh*t Stack" is a masterpiece when Watts performs it solo -- I may have gone on record before saying that his performance of it at the ECNY Awards banquet two years ago was a triumphant tour de force -- but now just imagine it with actual bikini girls, D&D players and more. There are a few versions of this song recorded by You People on the YouTube. Here's an example of this and that from SXSW in 2008. Roll the clip!
All this and a car started, too? Good job, DieHard. Not the movie. The battery manufacturer. Here's their new ad featuring virtuoso Reggie Watts. (Thanks to Videogum for pointing this out to me) Roll it!
If you'd like to see and hear more from Reggie Watts, then you're in luck! Watts, who has multiple music records under his belt (with his great Seattle-based band Maktub), is recording his first Comedy Central project in the coming week, with performances over three nights in NYC: Dec. 13 at The Bell House, Dec. 14 at Le Poisson Rouge and Dec. 15 at Galapagos. All three of those shows are 21 and older. Sorry, kids! You'll have to wait for the CD/DVD, coming in 2010.
The Bentzen Ball opened its inaugural comedy festival in our nation's capital last night, and The Comic's Comic was there for what seemed like a flash (because I was only there for about as many hours as I actually spent on the bus back and forth between NYC and DC from yesterday afternoon to this morning). But there I was in the shadows alongside Kyle Kinane, enjoying Rory Scovel's "country bumpkin" act during the Patton Oswalt and Friends show that served as the ball's opening gala at DC's Lincoln Theatre. Did I say country bumpkin? Yes, I did.
I'm fairly sure few people in the audience knew what kind of a show they were getting from Scovel, who joked about needing to smoke pot to enjoy this summer's rash of 3D animated movies, about fulfilling the WWJD motto, and at one point, telling the audience: "This is like Christmas, but I'm eating it!" Oswalt may have been the big draw for opening night -- and certainly did his part closing with a 50-minute set that touched upon routines from his latest CD/DVD, as well as a few memories about his start in stand-up in D.C. clubs, plus a rant about the Christmas song, "Christmas Shoes." He also encouraged the crowd to check out many of the not-so "famous" comedians performing at this weekend's fest. Not that they had to go very far, for they got treated to sets from Kinane (he received prolonged spontaneous applause after his performance, which closed with an adventure in a Chicago public bathroom -- so no need for him to be consoled by one of the festival's organizers, Andy Wood, afterward (as pictured!)), Ian Edwards (who provoked them into rethinking their attitudes on race and sex, and even made them gasp during his closer), and sets by the more famous acts of Todd Barry and Mary Lynn Rasjkub, and host/curator Tig Notaro. For a full set of photos from last night, check out Dakota Fine's full collection courtesy of fest organizer Brightest Young Things.
I also checked out the late show at the Bohemian Caverns, which has a basement set up to look like a cave. Nice touch? Maybe, but the stage lighting was a bit off, and the upstairs had turned into a dance club, factors that made it tough for many of the performers Thursday night -- although Seth Herzog and Morgan Murphy both seemed to get the crowd's attention in a good way. The local comedians, meanwhile, were showcasing over at HR 57, and there was an open mic advertised at Ben's Chili Bowl, which I don't remember seeing when Barry, Herzog, Reggie Watts and I went over there to sample the local institution's Chili Half-Smoke (online, the menu says it's named after Bill Cosby!).
Oh, did I mention that the Question Mark Suit Guy (informercial guy Matthew Lesko) was there, opening the festivities with a horrible comedy sketch that he and DC Councilman Jim Graham planned out? You can see that and more in this short highlight reel I put together from my brief sojourn to DC:
As I sit here, living off of the boissons gratis of the 24-hour Subway restaurant and paying for temporary WiFi access in Montreal's Trudeau airport terminal, I realize that my initial plan to bring you a full slate of reviews from Montreal's Just For Laughs festival today might not come to fruition. Something about spending most of the afternoon trying to get a flight to New York City, then boarding a flight that takes off, and almost makes it there only to circle back and land in Canada, forcing you and your fellow passengers to pass through Customs even though you just left (the Customs agent had a quizzical view of the situation, as well), then spending the rest of the evening and into the morning hoping that the skies have cleared and airports reopened -- it all leaves me tres fatigue, as the French write. At least for a few hours, though, I was sitting in a chair in the sky!
With that nod to Louis CK, who put on two of the best shows (and hottest tickets) during the fest, I do want to share some initial thoughts about Montreal's annual celebration of comedy, and how it fared this summer. More in-depth reviews of the shows I saw will get published once I'm back home in New York City, to be sure. But first, a few thoughts, opinions and ideas to get you thinking about -- and hopefully talking about -- comedy.
For those of you looking for a longer set from Reggie Watts to find out what everyone is talking about, then behold this session as Watts performed for Jesse Thorn's The Sound of Young America live broadcast a few weeks ago at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Ore. Enjoy:
Reggie Watts has fronted a funky Seattle band (Maktub), been acknowledged for his brilliant brand of stand-up comedy (Andy Kaufman Award), and earlier this week, added the ECNY award for best musical comedy to his kudos. If you have seen Watts perform, you know he's doing something quite special. When I sat down with him in November 2007 at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, I told him that in launching The Comic's Comic that weekend, I was hoping to innovate comedy journalism much in the same way that he was innovating and rebranding our collective notion of musical comedy. He continues to inspire me to do that.
Last month, I caught part of his performance at Liam McEneaney's Tell Your Friends show (Monday nights, free in the basement of Lolita bar in NYC's Lower East Side), and thought it'd be interesting to see how it looks to film someone filming Watts. So here that is.
Did you miss last week's Time Out New York approved comedy showcase at the UCB that was part of the New York Comedy Festival? Would you like to see some highlights from the sets of Anthony Jeselnik, Max Silvestri, Reggie Watts, Sean Patton, Seth Herzog, The Hazzards and host/TONY Comedy Editor Jane Borden? Of course, you would. So here that is. Note: Language is NSFW!
I didn't make it Bonnaroo this weekend, but thousands of other music and comedy fans did. And more than a few of them already have weighed in with their opinions of the massive Tennessee festival.
Stereogum took plenty of pics, loved Chris Rock, thought Reggie Watts was "custom built for a music festival setting." Entertainment Weekly also thought Rock fared well on the main stage "opening" for Metallica on Friday night. The AP provides a more basic overview from Friday day and night, but followed up with a more thorough account and a quote from Louis CK: "60,000 people is too many for stand-up...even if 40,000 people love you, you're still bombing really hard." David Carr of the New York Times was among those who felt Chris Rock had a more difficult time getting his jokes across to the hipster rock kids and Southerners. A reporter from Atlanta's Creative Loafing laughed a lot and enjoyed the A/C in the comedy tent, but laughed hardest at an audience member who started peeing everywhere during the show.