From the opening moments of Reggie Watts’ hour-long Netflix debut Spatial, in which he makes a cloaked and masked Darth Vader-esque introduction, you know you are in for something far different from your traditional stand-up comedy special. Just how unorthodox the special is going to get is made clear moments in when Watts retreats from the stage, revealing from underneath his cape a tiny dancer dressed head-to-toe in silver spandex, there to deliver a bizarre and spacey interpretive dance number. Watts is later welcomed to the stage, crawling over, under and through a number of audience members to get there, where he subsequently delivers 60 straight minutes of laugh-filled gags, philosophical ramblings, wacky improvisational sitcom segments and hilariously impressive musical numbers.
Those unfamiliar with Watts’ comedic style are likely to have their minds blown on more than one occasion throughout Spatial. Whether it’s a blitz-style “quick story” bit — as in “literally” quick (meaning in a high-pitched fast-forward speech style) — or a brilliant live music number based loosely on Benadryl — both of which, mind you, go down in the first eight minutes of the special — Watts expertly fuses his blend of delightful absurdist humor with a one-of-a-kind top-tier set of performance chops. First-time viewers and longtime fans alike will find themselves habitually amazed, impressed and entertained… oftentimes simultaneously.
While the bulk of Spatial is made up of unconventional comedy, most radical is Watts’ periodic straying from his one-man exhibition to put on live segments of a improvisational sitcom parody show called Crowe’s Nest. The highly-enjoyable ongoing interlude finds a trio of roommates — Watts, Kate Berlant and Rory Scovel — delivering awkward deadpan comic relief while exploring topics ranging from the depths of time to cancer.
With a number of other memorable deviations, including a wicked tap-dancing collaboration with audience member Chloe Arnold and a growly live musical flashback to 1989’s Seattle with Watts on vocals, fellow “Karen” collaborator Hagar Ben Ari on bass, Blaire Sinta on drums, Tim Young and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme on guitar, Spatial breaks just about every rule in the stand-up special playbook.
Done by almost anybody else, comedic diversions like the ones mentioned above would most certainly be in danger of feeling like cheap filler tactics… but not with Watts, whose more conventional stand-up comedy material could entertain for days. Alternatively, his superb execution and integration of atypical material only serves to enhance the overall impact of this diverse and edgy variety special.
Watts is a comedic master in the making, incorporating elements of science, philosophy, history, technology and more without limitation. He has a keen ability to tap into the silly as well as the profound, done seamlessly during his Spatial performance of “Apple Song,” where his lyrical depth almost goes unnoticed due to the light-hearted overtly-catchy melody. “Remember every person is an opportunity to learn more about yourself because you are listening to where they’re coming from and they represent a reflection of yourself,” sings Watts, “as long as you understand that there’s more to this life. There’s always so much more to this life.”
Spatial is a must see. Check it out now, only on Netflix.