Watts’ Laugh Riot

Reggie Watts doesn’t have a master plan. He has no plan. Period.

When the 40-year-old walks onto a stage, he has nothing prepared beyond “Hello.” He may tell some jokes. He might speak in a British accent. He could improvise a song. Whatever is on Watts’ mind becomes Watts’ act.

“It’s way more natural than to prepare something,” says Watts, who performs at the 9:30 Club on May 21. “If I prepared something, I’d be a lot more nervous. I’d be freaked out that I wouldn’t remember what I thought I was supposed to do.”

Even his latest special/album, “Reggie Watts A Live at Central Park,” was filmed without a net. He says his mindset going in was: “If it sucks, well then, that’s my special.”

The special, which airs on Comedy Central Friday at 1 a.m. and is out as a CD/DVD set May 15, captures the essence of Watts’ unique performances. There are heady comedic riffs (one on cellphone providers was inspired by the concert’s sponsor, AT&T) alongside fully improvised songs.

It’s thrilling to watch but even more mind-blowing to think about. Watts could easily play the same songs or do the same jokes every night. Instead, he does what he does best: whatever comes to mind.

9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; May 21, 7 p.m., $25; 202-265-0930. (U Street)
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.

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