Reggie Watts Le Gesù, Montreal, QC, July 24

Reggie WattsLe Gesù, Montreal, QC, July 24
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Half concert, half stand-up, and populated by strange characters whose identities are never fully made clear, Reggie Watts's comedy travels anywhere and everywhere his imagination can take him.
 
Watts emerged on stage speaking in surprisingly proficient Parisian-accented French, and rambled about cheese and clowns for five minutes until he began playing the first song of the night. It's not clear if he was aware of the extra layer of hilarity he created by doing a Parisian accent in particular, which is a regular target of satire here in Quebec all on its own, or if he just thought French was French, but either way, the amped-up midnight show crowd went wild in appreciation.
 
Watts's stage set up includes a keyboard, two microphones, and a looping pedal that he uses to construct songs. In addition to making music with them, Watts also uses his instruments as props, turning fiddling with the mic stand and struggling to insert a patch cord into hilarious bits of physical comedy.
 
As a collaborator with LCD Soundsystem and the leader of The Late Late Show house band, Watts has serious chops. His voice is amazing and he can make it do a lot of hilarious things. Over the course of the night the songs he constructed included a Kompakt Records-style deep house track, a baritone-heavy world music choral piece, and a country-tinged song about sex toys. On the keyboard, he composed an extended fusion jazz-tinged piece about Canada, including references to maple leaves, Manitoba, Halifax, the band Memoryhouse, and poutine.
 
In between songs, Watts moved around the stage in character, sometimes a heavily-accented French artist from New York, other times a haughty music professor, or a gruff blues session musician who observes that "people are people." Watts convincingly embodied each of these unique unnamed characters, and he also weaved in thoughts about the Kepler space probe, weed vaporizers, and time travel in his own voice, using a hugely funny and disorienting stream-of-consciousness style.
 
Near the end of his hour-long set at Le Gesù, Watts asked if anyone in the audience remembered Hammy Hamster. After a smattering of applause from the crowd, he described the Canadian children's television program Tales of the Riverbank, which starred live action rodents dressed in costumes. Watts explained that as a child growing up in Montana, he caught the show from the Lethbridge station across the border. After nearly an hour of surreal and absurd comedy there were clearly several people in the audience who thought he was making the whole thing up.
 
Reggie Watts is wooly and weird and his performances are utterly unique and hilarious.