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Game Changer – Reggie Watts

August 27th, 2014  |  Published in FEATURE, SOCIAL SCIENCES

IMAG4809_BURST002I picked up a Georgia Strait the other day to find that Reggie Watts is performing at the Vogue Theatre on September 4. Knowing him to be an unusual performer, my interest in him has grown and I thought I would explore his world in more detail.

When Watts was a thirty-something living in Seattle, he found himself in his twentieth or so band wondering how exactly he was going to earn a decent living. Reflecting on his old high school days and remembering himself as a goofball comedian, academic, explorer, and musician, he took his fascination with the human experience and cause and effect analysis, connected everything and became the solo performer we know today who, in a world rife with pastiche, is a unique performer who plays by his own rules and his audience loves him for that.

In an enthralling interview with VICE’s Reihan Salam, Watts touches on a number of ideas that give meaning to what he does dispelling any thought that he’s just another simple funnyman with funny hair.

While I like some of Watts’ work, I’m not exactly a superfan. After watching this interview, though, what I have become a big fan of is Reggie Watts, the person. Below are some of the great ideas he brings forth in this hour long, uninterrupted episode of VICE podcast. I have cleaned up the language a bit for clarity. Watch the whole thing and get the full picture.

On His Goal For A Performance
When I perform it’s about subverting expectation, but getting to a point in which people just kind of surrender to an experience and hopefully that inspires some kind of self-exploration or just immersion to let them be and experience or take away, perhaps, at best, something that makes them think of things differently.

On Starting To Think About Subverting Expectations
I definitely loved the fact that people expected — well, they didn’t really quite know what to expect really, because all they really had was movies and TV: Eddie Murphy does this. Bill Cosby does this. They had to get to know me. And there I was, a dude who looked like this and wasn’t behaving in the way they do. So in a way Montana was a good place to grow up because people didn’t have too many expectations.

On Copy-Culture, Pastiche, and Masked Critics
“It’s one thing to take the Mona Lisa and copy 98% of it. Yeah, Andy Warhol did it, but there was a contextual reason for it.”

It’s one thing to have someone who’s not experienced in music to call out something…It’s important for people that do have experience in music, if they feel strongly about something, to say something about it.

The Internet is not promoting responsibility or accountability for a statement which can thereby create a discussion.

On Connecting with Youths and How
Education, science, arts. The other things, cool. But those are the most important things for advancing human culture…Those are the things that are curious and explorative and that’s what human beings are. They’re explorers.

On Being an Anthropologist/Science Lover
Reggie Watts 5I love the intersection between technology and the human interface and interaction but more importantly what does it do as a tool to people’s experiences and does it distract?…I’m interested in what engages people’s curiosities. What’s useful? What’s not useful?

We need something that’s intuitive immediately so people can engage that curious part of themselves because if people are occupied with things that are creative and curious, it only increases their intelligence and their understanding of the world. It gives them options to be able to have multiple perspectives at any moment in time. And that’s incredibly powerful and I think the reason there’s so much trouble, violence and division is because of people just getting ingrained to just see something in just a few different ways and to react in a way that they see and mimic. Being able to create more free agents of perspective is incredible.

On Being Apolitical
The reason I’m not political is because the best most effective way to influence society is to encourage people’s imagination and interest in science and possibilities. Because then that projects their creativity outward instead of being in a feedback loop inside of their head about ‘I can’t pay the bills. I’ve gotta do this. This person doesn’t like me at work.’

All these various things that we can’t help but to be consumed with but when you have a creative out, it reduces that ability [of those negative forces]. It enables you to shift into a progression as opposed to just getting locked into something and going, ‘Well this is the way it is. Life’s tough.’ And that’s it and you just continue life that way. Then maybe in the end you’re like ‘Oh wait a minute…’

On Limitations
I don’t want to limit myself by the stage that I’m at or my age. I want this to be a factor insomuch as whatever experiences I’ve accumulated guides me to wherever I’m interested in going, but I never want to get too tied in with the system and be so plugged in that I can’t remove myself immediately, for flexibility, to be able to move freely. That’s the thing I have to protect.

If you feel too sedentary, you have to listen to that.

You’re your greatest relationship…Just listen to yourself.

Knowing you always have a choice is incredibly powerful.

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