Published Oct 31, 2016Known for his deft musicianship and subtle, surreal comedy, Reggie Watts was born to be a bandleader. He holds such a post on the Late Late Show With James Corden, which follows his previous stint as Scott Aukerman's sidekick and musical director on Comedy Bang Bang!
He's also a health nut with a pretty greasy new side gig, pitching Hormel's Black Label Bacon. "Hormel presented me with a challenge to create music using bacon samples so that's what I did," he says, over the phone. "I created a very fun, slightly tech-house vibe with bacon samples. It's definitely some kind of dance techno. Baconized techno. I wrote it for people who enjoy bacon a little too much so that they feel replenished and can eat more bacon, justifiably."
What are you up to?
I've been doing a lot of virtual reality performances in social VR platforms. I've done two standup comedy events and had a live music event last night, all in VR. I also have a comedy special coming out on Netflix on December 6. That's called Spatial and it was really fun to make. I made it in Hollywood and it's fully improvised. It's got a fake sitcom in it that was completely improvised with some other actors. It's got some dancers and rock band stuff. It's really kind of crazy and I'm glad Netflix gave me the reins to do it.
What are your current fixations?
I really like the new Trentemøller record. It's insanely new wave. I'm a kid of the '80s so anything that comes close to sounding like new wave, I'm just a sucker for. This sounds like a Siouxsie and the Banshees album; it's really crazy.
Why do you live where you do?
I live in Silver Lake because my gig is here, so I had to move here. Los Angeles takes some getting used to. It can be a very lonely city, very solitary in some ways. I also live alone, so that might have something do with it, but I also love being alone. You just have to find your group of friends; your people that you want to hang out with, and figure out your rhythm. It's not always easy, but once you find great people and get in a good groove, it's really quite an enjoyable place with so many benefits. Really great, fresh, healthy food and a healthy lifestyle — it's good.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
I would have to say Android Jones's Microdose application in virtual reality. Virtual reality is like drugs. You flip it on and suddenly you're somewhere else. Android Jones is an incredible visual fractal artist who works with programmers to create these insane painting programs, where you can paint with seemingly living, biological fractal structures growing around you. And who wouldn't want to do that?
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I did a gig in Berlin recently and that was really cool. I was on vacation in Berlin and decided to add a gig at the last minute. My booking agent made it happen. A guy we were working with got us a venue but it sold out so we got a larger venue. Just the way it all came together — people at the venue were cool with how they set up the stage, the lighting guy made this lighting scheme for me, every sound system in Berlin is top notch so it sounded incredible and the audience was amazing — it was all so cool and very inspirational.
What have been your career highs and lows?
The highs are definitely anything where I feel like I accomplished something. That could be at any given point in my career, where I did a show and it felt amazing and I felt connected to the creative force and the audience felt it too. That continues to happen and it's what I'm always looking for. I feel like now, in my life, I'm on a good path and feel stronger and healthier so that's really good.
The lows are trying to find people to relate to. And then when you find people to relate to and you like them and want to hang out, often times you have to leave each other very quickly. Everything's a little fleeting in the entertainment industry, so that happens. Luckily I don't suffer from existential crises too much but it can definitely cast some melancholy on some days, where I get up and feel like, "Uhhh, what am I doing? I dunno." So, those would be the lows.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
I was in Scotland once, in Edinburgh, and I remember someone in the audience of maybe 30 or 40 people, some Scotsman said, "Go back in your hole." I've also heard "You're not funny" a few times while I'm performing. I love that — when people say things like that — because I then use what they say and transform it into a positive thing, which is my favourite thing, because it really makes them angry.
What should everyone shut up about?
People talk about the dab a lot — actually The Late Late Show just addressed that — and there was also like, "bae" for a while? None of that shit makes any sense to me and it makes me really angry. I just don't like it. It just seems lazy and weak. I wish people would just shut up about any popular phrase that comes up and is inexplicably popular.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
Communication wasn't an area I was really good at, especially with women and in relationships. But I'm actually doing pretty good the last year-and-a-half, thankfully, which has been a really good growth spurt. That, and my weight; I've lost 15 pounds and have been lifting weights and working out and eating really well and feeling really good and strong, so I'm feeling really good now. I'm on the path to achieving some goals, so I guess I won't have very much left to do after that.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Like, a non-dairy ice cream, maybe with a seaweed-sweetened rococo chocolate sauce. Yeah, no sugar but like that new vegetable protein ice cream they've made. So yeah, that'd be perfect.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
I don't know, I can't think of a piece of advice that someone's offered that I agreed to but then didn't use. I think any advice I've received, I've probably used.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Out of my band, signs of being disrespectful to other members of the band or travelling in the band and the way they're treating other people. Aside from musicality — like if they were fucking up all the time, then obviously that'd be a problem — personality-wise, if they were doing that, they'd be out. And then in bed, it'd be kind of a similar thing. Either a combination of being very disrespectful and not connected to the situation, and/or, smoking cigarettes.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of opportunity and I think of medicine. Not the pro-marijuana camp way of thinking about it, but in the literal use of medicine. Not like, "I've got glaucoma, I need to smoke weed," but more than that. I'm into the idea of what it represents for people studying or trying to make THC and the understanding of various strains and the different general compounds that are involved in it and micro-dosing in conjunction with other herbs and things like that. So, I really think of the opportunity.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
I'm pretty sure I bought a 45 but it might've been my parents. To be safe, I'd say it was Prince's Around the World in a Day.
What was your most memorable day job?
Working at Mother Nature's Natural Health Store in Seattle, WA for about three years. It was fun. I've always loved health food and learning about new products and herbs and different lifestyles. That was great but also it was just the people who worked there — they were really cool people. The lady, Elaine, who was the owner of the store was really amazing and her father was great. A lot of awesome customers coming in every day, a lot of regulars doing their thing, splurging on vitamins. It was really fun and it was this small, ma and pa vitamin store in Queen Anne, which is a little, cute area in Seattle, so it was awesome.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
I'd say Prince. I'd have Prince over and would serve him a bunch of healthy things to help him deal with his opioid addiction.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
The Sundays' "Here's Where the Story Ends."