A Very Long Conversation with Comedian Reggie Watts About Williamsburg, Touring with Conan, and Brian Eno Birthday Parties That Is Totally Worth the Read
What can you tell me about that?
I'm just kidding. I mean, we had a production meeting yesterday. It's going to be a variety show set in a loft space, hopefully Greenpoint or Williamsburg, to use that name again. And yeah, it's just me as a host, they'll be probably three comedians, two people doing set, one person that I'll probably hang out with collaboratively. We'll have musical guests, hopefully someone great like LCD Soundsystem. We won't get that, but hopefully someone like that.
You never know.
Yeah, you never know. But someone local, Santigold or someone like that. Local artists. Just make it feel like a hang, a really cool vibe, without being too forced. Basically a show that I would put on anyways, in a loft. But televised. Multi-camera.
Do you have a name for the show yet?
No, I had a name, but I don't know. We haven't really talked about it. I got to figure that out.
Speaking of Comedy Central, you were on Michael & Michael Have Issues last summer.
I didn't get to see any of the episodes. I like those guys. I love their weird, mean-spirited...it's funny because David Wain really has become the most successful out of all those guys, as a director and a writer. But also Wainy Days is genius. He seems to have a better handle on how to create consistency. Like, he's better at just riding a consistent plain where people are like "I'll follow you," but for some reason Michael and Michael (Showalter and Ian Black) even though they are brilliant and I think they're genius as well, I think what they do is insane, but for some reason they get relegated to these weird pockets, as opposed to Wain who's kind of suspended in the middle. Probably being a good director has a lot to do with it.
I worry about Michael Showalter. He seems so delicate.
He does, but he's also very strong-headed. He's very stubborn. I think that great things are going to happen for him. Great things have already happened for Michael Showalter, and being Michael Showalter is almost enough. But I know that he's hungry to get something on fire. I know that. And any artist would be, and I'm such a fan of his, I have a feeling he's going to find that right vehicle or movie or directing thing or whatever, and it's going to explode, because he's incredibly talented.
Speaking of comedy demigods, how were the Conan shows?
They were amazing. I was a little nervous at first, doing what I do. "Ah, I hope they don't hate me too much" was how it started. But it was great, especially as the tour rolled on there was talk about like "I really enjoyed the opener, you should check him out." There was talk amongst the fans, the Conan fans. As the tour went on, some people were there early to see me or at least check me out for a second. So the shows were great, the audiences were awesome, the crew was amazing and I did my best to get the crowd going and get off when I was supposed to get off. Leave the crowd in a really amazing place and then walk off, and make room for Conan. It was great. It was kind of emotional the last show that we did. People were getting emotional, it was a nice family from those two months of touring.
A lot of people wonder, because in all the press interviews he done since the kafuffle with NBC, he's tried to remain positive and not talk a lot of shit. Backstage, is he talking a lot of shit? When you guys played right next to Rockefeller Center did you get any (whispers) "fuck NBC"?
You know, you can sense his disappointment. He never ever, he's smart about this, he never ever says things too shitty about them. He's definitely very biting and says enough stuff onstage to get that sense that he's basically saying, "Fuck you guys, you fucked me over." He's never said that, and backstage he doesn't really talk about it. I think he's all talked out about it, really. I never heard him say anything. You hear people on occasion yell out "Fuck Jay Leno" or whatever and he'd say [adopts O'Brien voice] "What? Fuck Jay Leno? Okay." But he's really good about not saying it. Because it's a temporary thing, it's not worth directly saying some really shitty things. Maybe if the TBS thing blows up and he helps to reinvent that channel and everyone starts watching it and ratings go through the roof, maybe he might start saying something. I don't know, who knows? But he never really said anything negative backstage, he was always talking about the things he was into in the moment.
In addition to albums and performances and the TV show, what are your other career aspirations? Do you have any desire to be in comedic films? Smaller ones? Bigger ones?
I'd love to make an indie comedy film, something that I could contribute to, either writing or be allowed to improvise my character for the movie. I'd really like that because...what was the movie that I really enjoyed recently...Max Fish...
Was that Jesse Eisenberger? No, it's not Jesse Eisenberger. Who was that actor who was in She's Out Of League?
Yeah, yeah Jay Baruchel.
Is that his name? The guy that's in the Lightning Thief that's coming out... no, The Wizard Apprentice... [Baruchel stars in the upcoming The Sorcerer's Apprentice]
Yeah, the Undeclared guy.
I'm Reed Fish.
Yeah, I'm Reed Fish. , that's what it was. I loved that one, loved it. It reminded me of Montana. It was kind of like a Ferris Bueller's in the woods. I really like that guy. Of the three, Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera and him that are basically of the same archtype, the awkward, tall, thin young guy, I think Jesse Eisenberg and him...I think Cera's okay but he's kind of put himself in a corner (makes pushing motion with his hands). But anyways watching She's Out Of My League or watching I'm Reed Fish. , I like that kind of indie feel, small, weird quirky comedy, almost like Better Off Dead kind of comedy and I long for that style of comedy to come back in a way. Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, those kind of quasi-adolescence...they were adolescence but they were also high concept value, but just silly and abstract and so strange, and I kind of want to see that again. I think the closest thing we had recently was Zombieland, which I thought was fucking genius.
It was really good.
I saw that three times in the movie theater. And Eisenberg was the shit, man.
It's so upsetting when he shoots Bill Murray.
Oh my God, I know! I know! That was an exciting movie for me, I was just like "holy shit! That is some new shit." After this movie, no one needs to make another zombie movie. Unless it's Zombieland 2. But yeah, the long, long answer is I would love to because I just love film. Even the beginning of my DVD with the whole sketch with Kumail Nanjiani and the two extras, that was so fun to just create a structure and work with the director Duncan (Skiles.) I wrote the scene, but I didn't "write it, write it." I just wrote points to get to and we improvised, and had so much fun. And that was just a tiny, little thing. I'd love to do a whole movie like that, you know? So yeah, film, short film, experimental film. I definitely want to move into film. Hopefully this pilot gets picked up and hopefully we make it really funny, and they pick it up and that will give me some resources, I think, to leverage more into film. I just want to get to space where I can do something and not have to rely on approval from investors. I'd rather just be able to make something and go "we're just making this to see what happens."
Is the TV show name going to be a play on your name, like 1000 Watts or something?
It'll be interesting to see if they do that or Watts Happening.
Oh, Watts Happening!
I don't know, it doesn't matter to me. If the title resonates that's good. It's really just getting into the door, creating something that has the confidence of the network behind and giving it a shot for the season. I would love to just try doing a TV show for a season, I think it would be fun. And I would get to stay here and not travel so much.
Live in your own home for a while.
Yeah. Get a home first.
Get a home. Pay rent.
Pay rent, and have my stuff in it. "Oh ,there's my computer, still there!"