In which we meet up with cool people to get the insight you can only get from talking about what crap someone’s watching.
When I ask Reggie Watts what I should refer to him as, seeing how his work on stage and on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast and TV show (season two recently started on IFC) mixes music, comedy, improv, and ridiculousness into a bundle that might be hard to define, there’s a somewhat uncomfortable pause. “I guess I just call myself a comedic performer,” he says finally, sounding humbly exasperated.
We’d been talking for about thirty minutes at that point, and we’d firmly established one thing. He’s not a fan of comedy. This might be obvious from Comedy Bang Bang’s aesthetic, which is a sort-of more palatable Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job: anti-comedy from people who want to deconstruct the joke business without making you watch them eat shrimp for 10 minutes.
“Mainstream comedy is mostly shitty,” Watts says. “It’s like 98% shitty. Then there’s like the 2% that’s actually good. Even 30 Rock, when people were going crazy about it, I just couldn’t get behind it. I think it’s probably an excellent show, but it got so over-hyped.” Also terrible: Zooey Deschanel’s The New Girl. “I had to watch one episode of that,” Watts says, “and I was like, ‘What the fuck, dude.’ People are like, ‘No, it’s a good show!’ No. It’s not a good show, you just think it’s a good show.”
So, what does he watch? Sci-fi and fantasy, almost exclusively. Although he is a big fan of one mainstream-ish comedy, which he calls “basically perfect.” That would be TNT’s Mark-Paul Gosselar vehicle and perfect pop-culture punchline Franklin & Bash. What the fuck, dude?
Arrested Development (Season 4, 2013)
IMDB: Level-headed son Michael Bluth takes over family affairs after his father is imprisoned. But the rest of his spoiled, dysfunctional family are making his job unbearable.
“It’s hard to get through. I’ve been trying, bu it gets a little convoluted, and I’m interested in other stories that it’s not portraying. It jumps back and forth so much. I don’t even know the characters’ names. What’s his name—not Ricky Schroder, but the other guy from Silver Spoons. He was in Identity Thieves and blah blah blah. Jason Bateman. His storyline I’m into, but in general it’s a slightly confusing affair.”
Merlin (2008 – present)
IMDB: The adventures of the legendary sorcerer as a young man.
“I kind of finished this. I’m on the fourth season now. It’s wizards, and Arthur, Camelot, Gwedolyn. I love fantasy, medieval magic stuff. I enjoy it. It’s kind of cheap fun. If you’re the sort of guy who loves cheap fun, boy, have I got a great show for you!”
Hyperdrive (2006 – present)
IMBD: A sci-fi British comedy about the adventures of Her Majesty’s Ship Camden Lock in the year 2151. It’s mission: to convince alien governments to relocate their businesses to Britain.
“It’s a space comedy, which is very rare. It’s actually really good. It’s not like a lot of people are dying to see a comedy set on a starship. It’s not like, “Boy, I can’t wait for that!” It can work better as a movie. It can be sold as being more exciting, and people can be like, “Oh, great, I’d love to see that.” If it’s like a TV series, sci-fi comedy just doesn’t do as well as serious sci-fi.”
DC Showcase (2010)
IMDB: An anthology of DC Showcase stories consisting of a new Superman/Shazam feature and extended versions of older shorts.
“I just saw the Captain Marvel/Superman one. Also, The Spectre. He’s like a superhero DC created in the ’40s, I think. He’s a weird character, like a supernatural figure that has access to the underworld and to criminals and people who don’t do well. He kind of like haunts them and scares them.”
Franklin & Bash (2011 – present)
IMBD: Lawyers and lifelong friends Jared Franklin and Peter Bash are recruited by a large firm’s major partner after winning a high-profile case. My friend Kumail [Nanjiani] is on it. I love him on that, but he actually retired from it, they wrote him off.”
“I’m a huge fan. It’s totally brilliant. It’s a really well-designed comedy. There’s not a wasted line in it. Every line is perfect, and totally well-crafted. My friend Kumail [Nanjiani] is on it.”