Calling Reggie Watts a hip-hop Andy Kaufman isn't quite accurate, but since he deconstructs language and comedy, labels hardly matter. If you haven't seen Watts, his voice isn't the only thing that will surprise you; if you have, Transition is more of the same, for better and/or worse.
Reviewed by Aaron Riccio
Reggie Watts is a bullshit artist, but a serious one. His deadpan act deconstructs both sound and comedy: imagine a hip-hop Andy Kaufman and you'll still be confused. Just know that Watts's entertainment comes first; the incidental laughs spray like shrapnel. Also, know that Watts gets away with it. The solipsism fades in front of an audience, especially a downtown crowd, and if his performance sometimes seems the equivalent of a precocious child taping a private radio program in front of a mirror, he at least has the voice of a DJ and the technical skills of a sound engineer. His rambling spans octaves and his nonsense comes in raps that sample his own looped beatboxing.
Transition isn't any different from last year's Disinformation: it's just another chance for Watts to screw with our orderly expectations. (It says a lot that I'm still not sure whether or not there were actually "technical difficulties" delaying the show.) Is he to be congratulated for saying nothing, but in an entertaining way? A bit titled "An Soliloquoy" boils words down to sounds as it makes fun of classical theater and English enunciations; so does his song about sasquatchs eating sausages in sauces with squashes. Even the provocatively inane observations--for instance, that racism unites people because it takes everyone to make it work--get lost in the insane moments.
To Watts's credit, Transition feels like a fresh retread. Then again, it's only 45 minutes long (which is about how long you'll remember it). The title implies that Reggie Watts is going somewhere; here's hoping he gets there soon.
Transition (45 min.)
Public Theater (425 Lafayette Street)
Tickets (212-967-7555): $15
Performances: 1/9, 1/10, 1/11, 1/14, 1/15, 1/16 @ 9:30 | 1/12 @ 7 | 1/17 @ 2
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.