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Reggie Watts: Footloose and hands-free

Musician Reggie Watts on acting, comedy and shying away from projects that are ‘too contracty.’

Wisely, Reggie Watts puts on a Bluetooth headset to chat as he's driving to LAX. It's comforting that he's chosen to go hands-free; to know he's safe. Except he's not actually driving.

"No, I have a professional to do that," he says somewhat aghast, like driving the strange L.A. streets is a preposterous idea. "I'm just going hands-free ... for no reason. I like hands-free."

Hands-free and ready to multitask at any moment, because that's how he works: improvising music live via good, old-fashioned on-the-spot recording, looping and beat boxing, and riffing in comedic turns at will.

And it's working for him. This spring, Watts' tour zips through the U.S.; his May-released live CD/DVD "Reggie Watts: A Live In Central Park," which premiered on Comedy Central, is joined by a second release, "Reggie Watts Live at Third Man Records," which was recorded at Jack White's Nashville Studio. Next month, he's in the cast of IFC's "Comedy Bang! Bang!" performing music with "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm, among other things. He just finished a cameo role in Steven Soderbergh's upcoming film "Bitter Pill," too.

"I did a scene with Jude Law. That was very weird, surreal. I was the crazy person on the street yelling," Watts laughs. "I want to do more film. There are a lot of studios asking me if I have any ideas. But I don't want things to be too contracty. I want things to be simple. I want to just keep doing some fun stuff."

Conan the helper




Watts, a Montana native who cut his performing teeth in Seattle before moving to Brooklyn, got a career leg-up when Conan O'Brien took him under his wing a couple of years ago. "Yeah, he did give me a boost and that really helps,"?Watts says. "I just like to tinker around and be happy performing."