There's something dream-like about seeing Reggie Watts perform, both in the surreal way the comedian puts together his show and how when you tell someone about it the next day, its awesomeness is just not going to translate.
Last night, Watts began his three-night stand at Miami Light Project's theater in the Goldman Warehouse. He was the first artist to perform in the space when it opened two years ago and tickets sold so quickly for this year's shows that an extra night was added to accommodate demand. Throughout his 75-minute, mostly improvised set, Watts combined traditional standup comedy with his bizarre and not-quite-sensical rambles; and songs played on a keyboard, as well as built from looped vocals and beat boxing.
Here is an incomplete list of things we learned from Reggie Watts last night:
1. "There was no racism before films became colorized."
2. Miami is best understood through the "cop show that made this place differently visible," meaning, of course, Burn Notice. As Reggie said, "When someone asks, 'What's Miami to you?'" the only meaningful answer is, "No children here, just adults cruising around, blowing things up and making lots of money...and art."
3. The recent Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern movie was "the biggest piece of shit you could hope for. If you were hoping for a big piece of shit, you got more than you were hoping for."
4. Reggie Watts "grew up in a place that a lot of people don't think people grew up in, and that's a huge advantage."
5. The Goldman Warehouse is named for "Oscar Goldman, originally the boss of the Million Dollar Man. Big props to that millionaire, and the man who obviously would now be a Billion Dollar Man, adjusting for inflation."
6. Once you've heard Reggie Watts call A Game of Thrones, "A Game of Charlize Therons," something about the real show seems tame and lacking in beautiful South Africans.
7. Fans of minotaurs will be pleased to know that minotaurs are "going to do good this year."
8. Watts does superb impressions, including one that appeared to be of someone pressing his index finger to his palm.
And then there were the songs. Watts began with a mournful number that he said he wrote "back in the day when I was working with a pacifist who was having a war with a friend of his and didn't feel good about it for obvious reasons." There was a song about the recent Miami rain that entreated listeners to "Put your mouth on the ground / and get all full up in two seconds." A didactic number offered the advice that "The past and future are pressed together like a sandwich / You can't be another person sitting on a whale." A soul ballad about cumin and how Reggie's lover is "really moist inside, because [she's] made of water."
Another song about the Miami Heat ended up focusing more on Miami humidity and devolved into a chant that sounded a lot like, "My mammy's got my fanny." After talking about how his hurt foot made him walk like Fred Sanford, he went into an extended funk vocal rendition of the Sanford and Son theme song that included a silent air bass guitar solo and the petting of an invisible cat that was then thrown into the audience.
Watts received a standing ovation and then returned for an encore, during which he provided what were easily the best puns we've ever heard using Beyoncé's name. He finished with a soul rave up about his "papito, a strong man, barrel-chested, who wore the finest of clothings." The lyrics made about as much sense as an earlier song about "the sounds of ancestors clawing away from their graves" or his professed admiration for athletes, especially those who take "six shots of espresso and then play Operation."
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But you don't go to a Reggie Watts show for things to make sense. All you can know going into one of his shows is that it will be completely different from his last one and that it will be damn funny.
A few tickets still remain for the Friday and Saturday night performances. Visit miamilightproject.com to snatch them up.