Reggie Watts at the Sydney Opera House, Luminous Festival 2009


Photo of Reggie Watts

Reggie Watts enters the stage and it’s his hair that greets first, a gravity defying bouncy afro hello. Cue the lights as he positions himself in front of a simple setup of synthesisers and loop machines. First he takes the microphone to his mouth and lays down some heavy beats, adds a bass and melody line and some deep sleazy nonsensical utterances to get the audience in the mood, to laugh that is.

With his four and a half octave range he’ quite the talented beat-boxer and it becomes very clear as the performance unfolds that there is not much that he can’ achieve with those vocal chords. But that’s just the beginning. I wasn’ prepared for the interjections between beat-boxing sessions which, though hard to define, could be described as absurd stream of consciousness rants or mostly improvised bollocks. He specialises in the art of dis-information, that is, absolute total lies but very funny lies nonetheless. Tonight he chooses to share his (un)scientific deductions about why certain Australian mammals bounce rather than walk, well the ground here is very hot no? Then he seamlessly blends his dialogue from one character impersonation to another, fictional or otherwise inspired by cultural references and prominent figures past and present. If he uses his “natural’ speaking voice on stage it would be impossible to tell as he comfortably traverses ye olde English accents, American teenager lingo and the unique languages of political spin, bureauocracy and arts criticism. So who is the real Reggie Watts? Maybe only his mother can answer that one.

My favourite part of the act was actually a rehearsed version of his now famous (on Youtube at least) “fuck shit stack’ song. Here he takes a stab at MTV-style gansta hip hoppers for their chauvinistic representation of women, general machismo posturing and the use of various expletives in place of inventive of lyrics. At this point he surprises the crowd with an unusual kind of shout-out,

“Yo, where’ my gerunds at? Word. Adjective. Pronoun!”

Yes, he’ not the usual kind of act, but a happy union of stand up comedy and human beat-box. If you ever get the chance to see him, do it. Just remember not to take him too seriously or it might mess with your head, that’s all.

Renae Mason.


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