In Israel debut, Reggie Watts gets his shakshuka on

The performer, whose comedy leans heavily on non sequiturs and a sense of the absurd, created music at the piano and the loop machine, fiddling with them as though they were extensions of his hands.

By REBECCA ARATEN
June 27, 2019 21:25
2 minute read.
REGGIE WATT in Tel Aviv.

REGGIE WATT in Tel Aviv.. (photo credit: MUPERPHOTO)

 
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Hundreds of people crowded around the stage at Reading 3 in the Tel Aviv Port Wednesday night, in anticipation of Reggie Watts’s show – his first in Israel. The American comedian walked onstage, stood between the synthesizer piano and loop machine, and said, “Shalom.”

Watts, whose shows are highly improvised, expresses his humor by role-playing scenarios, speaking to the audience stand-up style, and crafting spoken-word poetry with a feigned sense of gravitas. “This next moment is brought to you by life,” he said, with mock sincerity.

The performer, whose comedy leans heavily on non sequiturs and a sense of the absurd, created music at the piano and the loop machine, fiddling with them as though they were extensions of his own hands. His musical compositions transcended the bounds of musical genre and explored reggae, pop, R&B and gospel themes, interspersed with a multitude of onomatopoeic sounds, such as swooshing and licking.

Watts’s voice and persona shifted at multiple points throughout the night, as he jumped from accent to accent, from one language to another, starting, of course, with an Israeli accent, which he admitted sounded similar to a French one.

Watts catered his performance to the audience that he had in front of him, throwing Hebrew words such as todah into his skits and singing about popular foods in Tel Aviv. “Hummus” appeared repeatedly as a refrain in one of his songs.

Watts said jokingly that he had showed up in Tel Aviv without having done any preliminary research about it, and that he had picked up on a few elements of the atmosphere that made the city special. “The water is ridiculous,” he said. “You walk into it and you’re like, ‘Why does this feel like silk?’” Other notable characteristics were the “weird” birds and the “excellent” toast, which he called “hearty and well put-together.”

When talking about his observations of Israelis, he said they were “the only people on the planet that can pass through walls,” and cited their exceedingly high level of practicality that often causes them to take the shortest and most direct path to their goals. “You guys out-practical the Dutch, which is insane to me,” he quipped.

“I know it’s both a beautiful place, a sincerely gifted place,” he said. He toasted his audience with a can of Red Bull saying, “L’chaim.” That was not the only well-wish he bestowed upon the crowd, though. He congratulated his fans for their good humor despite the humidity and said to them, “I hope you find the right shakshuka.”

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