Representing in hip hop and R&B what Tenacious D is to hard rock, this 39 year old, straight outta Great Falls, Mont., refers to himself candidly as a "comedic performer."
Though he's far more than that.
Watts has appeared regularly in the last year on TBS's "Conan," was named "Best New Comedian" in 2010 by Spin Magazine, garnered a nod in Rolling Stone for being a "hot comic" and called "the Coolest Comedian on the Planet" by GQ.
Watts will be performing at the Fox Theater this Sunday for a show that promises to be anything but predictable.
This larger-than-life, afro'd, bon vivant, with a Bruce Vilanch flavor for the absurd in fashion and a propensity towards shifting personas -- sometimes affecting an accent or drastically altering his mode of discourse -- can do just about anything on stage.
Whether it's brilliant free-styling, beat-boxing (while utilizing various looping machines), soulful music or irreverent stand-up comedy, Watts is ultimately an entertainer of the old-time vaudevillian likes.
"I don't really focus on anything in particular," Watts said during a phone interview. "I take in all I can from wherever I am at each gig, like this one coming up in Colorado -- maybe on the architecture or the way people say things -- and then I strive for it to be completely fresh.
Having taken violin and piano lessons from a young age, Watts began his entertainment career as a musician in Seattle, where he recorded five albums with hip-hop group Maktub. He dabbled in stand-up and sketch comedy on the side, meanwhile composing musical scores for numerous dance choreographers throughout the northwest.
After seeing MTV's "The State" alumns perform in a touring troupe, Stella (David Wain, Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black), Watts said he was inspired by their unique brand of pastiche -- best exemplified in Wain's "Wet Hot American Summer" -- to take his comedy more seriously.
"It was exactly the kind of comedy I wanted to perform," Watts said.
Watts has since performed with Wain for the touring project "Wainy Days." Watts also works regularly with good friend and Longmont native Kristen Schaal ("Flight of the Concords"), having produced the theme song for Schaal's "Penelope Princess of Pets," which began its run online through Funny or Die before being produced for the BBC in 2010.
"I think changing up my act or accent is ridiculous and that keeps people on their toes," Watts said. "It's not giving them what they expect. Otherwise people just come along for the ride, we're all on the same page and then it just becomes a 'stream of whatever' or 'some kind of creative data-stream of information.'"
In order to keep his show from dissolving into such a "creative data-stream of information," Watts fuses not only music and comedy, but also the absurd and the profound in a manner concomitant with his comedic heroes in the ilk of Andy Kaufman.
"Those people had such great point of views," Watts said. "George Carlin was a philosopher and mental activist. Gene Wilder was a master of timing who was so absurd, obsessed, neurotic and beautiful in how he presented his ideas. Richard Pryor was such a soulful philosopher. I appreciate good writing, good philosophy and something that deals with who we are as a race."
Employing an approach that can leave him doing everything from singing gibberish about a woman's "big ass purse" accompanied by his own keyboard playing, to creating a richly-textured hip-hop song on his iPhone, Watts said that it can be difficult to reproduce previous works live.
Watts said that he's excited to play Boulder for the first time as a solo performer, noting that "Boulder is super hip, good for food and bike riding, with lots of beautiful people. It's also the 'Mork & Mindy' town, which I love."
Scott Carney, University of Colorado senior and external promotions director for Radio 1190, has some love for Watts, too, saying that the biggest draw for him is how Watts melds comedy and hip-hop together.
Hence why both 1190's Saturday hip-hop show Basementalism and its Wednesday comedy show Best Medicine will be promoting the gig all week.
"I was interested at first in presenting the Watts show at the Fox," Carney said, "and when (Fox marketing coordinator) Shannon Bock came to ask if we could, I agreed right away. It's a cool show to present."