(photo credit: Courtesy)
The comedian, musician and TV personality tours the globe with his indescribable act, finding rapt audiences from Australia to Japan to the United Kingdom. And now, for the first time, he’ll be performing in Israel, taking the stage in Tel Aviv on June 26.
“Just a guy on stage doing some dumb stuff,” was Watts’s best attempt at describing his act in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “I pretty much just kind of go for it – I get to wherever I’m going and just kind of hope that a good show happens.”
One constant in Watts’s on-stage performances is his looper, an audio playback machine that Israelis might be familiar with from Netta Barzilai, the 2018 Eurovision winner. For Watts, the looper is his most prominent tool, allowing him to play with his voice in real time and form on the spot musical creations.
And though each live show he does is different, the crowd, he feels, is quite the same.
“In general, people are people – especially with what I do,” he said. “There’s a lot of silliness... I don’t really have an agenda other than I want people to have a good time and realize that we’re all just sharing the planet and trying to have a good time.”
Watts – known to many fans as the frontman for the band on The Late Late Show with James Corden – has a chunk of time off of the show this summer, and will visit not just Tel Aviv but also London, Amsterdam and Berlin.
“I just like going anywhere where I can come in and provide some kind of message of unity,” he said, “even though it may seem silly and absurd and abstract.”
His lengthy and colorful musical and comedy career has defied labeling or even classification. Watts has released several comedy specials, including his most recent – Spatial – which can be found on Netflix, he records and tours with musician John Tejada (in a collaboration known as Wajatta), and he recently hosted the US game show Taskmaster.
Audiences might best know Watts from his time on The Late Late Show, but they’re only getting a glimpse of his capabilities.
“There’s really not enough time in the show to really do much other than some small goofy moments,” he said. “So it doesn’t really compare to when I have a long chunk of time where I can do whatever I want to do.”
While Watts has performed in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, this will be his first ever trip to Israel, one he’s happy to finally take.
“Israel, and especially Tel Aviv – a lot of people tell me is a really special city,” Watts said, noting that his friend and fellow Late Late Show bandmate Hagar Ben-Ari, a Tel Aviv native, will be in town to show him around.
“I’m just gonna show up and hope the locals show me some cool stuff,” he said. “My favorite way to visit a place is when I get invited to do a show.”
And Watts said he never considered not going to Israel or worried about a negative reaction.
“I go wherever I’m invited,” he said, recalling his time in Riyadh meeting underground comedians, or visiting Lebanon and “being welcomed in to the community and learning about their lives and their conflicts.”
Because, as he reiterated, wherever he goes, he finds people are just people.
“We have so much in common,” he said. “All the conflicts on the planet are essentially generated by a very small percentage of people and it doesn’t reflect the general populace... so if I get a chance to be invited anywhere, I’ll go there, and I’ll have a good time, and find the commonalities and just celebrate the fact that we’re alive.”
Reggie Watts will be performing at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv on June 26; tickets are available via 2207.kupat.co.il and range in price from NIS 199-219.