JOPLIN, Mo. —
A friend of mine sent me a video of Reggie Watts giving a Ted Talk that he said he was forced to admit he was amused.
Whoa, lots of background needed for that last sentence. Here’s the relevant bullet points:
- I have friends, many of whom enjoy sending me random geeky things on my social networks. I love them all. The friends, not the geeky things.
- Reggie Watts is a comedian. He has an impressive afro.
- Ted Talks are a series of lectures published online under the tag, “Ideas worth spreading.” I’ve watched many Ted Talks and have never come away underwhelmed. Until Reggie Watts.
I know that Watts is a pretty funny comedian. Part urban, part obscure, Watts’ stuff is pretty intelligent. His Ted Talk, however, was a little too avant garde yet lackadasical. Randomly changing accents from British aristocrat to gangsta DJ, he babbled pseudo-scholar style and spoke circularly, as if mocking the intelligent people usually asked to give Ted Talks.
Then he used a looping device (geeky info: I think it was a Kaoss pad, but I never got a good look) and looped some beatboxing to make some full songs.
Don’t get me wrong: It sounded good. Watts is skilled with his voice. But I was underwhelmed, because Beardyman does it so much better.
What, more bullet points? Fine:
- Beatboxing is the act of making drum and bass noises with your mouth. Biz Markie was one of the better ones in the ‘80s and ‘90s; others added bass lines and other sounds to make amazingly full songs from their mouth. (Geeky lesson: Want to get started beatboxing? It’s easy! Just say “boots, cats, boots, cats” over and over again.)
- Looping is the art of making music by playing a phrase into a musical recorder, then letting the recorder repeat the phrase, allowing the musician to add another phrase, melody or other music. A Kaoss pad is a special kind of looper that allows a performer to add all kinds of crazy effects to whatever they record.
- Beardyman is a beatboxer/looper whom I’ve written about several times in this column. Where Watts used one looper, Beardyman uses as many as five, a synthesizer and other electronic instruments to make his music. He has two main styles of show; a freestyle rave where he plays music for about 45 minutes non-stop, and a comedy/impromptu act where he takes audience suggestions and makes up full songs on the fly.
I’m not trying to start a fight between the two. This is not a case of Carlos Mencia stealing jokes, of Coldplay stealing Joe Satriani’s music or Andiry Chekanyuk stealing Jon van der Put’s Piff the Magic Dragon. If I were to accuse Watts of stealing, then I’d have to accuse every drummer in rock today for stealing grips and platforms from Ringo Starr.
(What, you need more background bullet points? You’re on your own for those in that last paragraph.)
In fact, I’d not just fail but epic-fail if I tried to get those two guys fighting. Like I do every so often for Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly, I Google-searched those names looking for barbs, salvos and other attacks. Instead I found videos of the two of them making music together.
Great ones, too. The two play off of each other really well while recording impromptu classics such as “I’ve Bought You So Many Dogs.”
In a nutshell: I thought I would be writing this column about how Watts stole an idea. But in the research, I’ve come around to appreciate how another performer is putting his spin on beatbox-looping. It takes amazing talent to do it, and Watts certainly has it.
Beardyman is still better, though. However, Watts’ beard is better than Beardyman’s. Does that seem right to you?
Is it just me, or is Joplin becoming a paradise for frozen desserts?
When I moved here about four years ago, the dessert market offered Shakes, Braum’s and Dairy Queen. Since then, Pink Swirls (never been), Culver’s (I go for the triple bacon cheeseburgers) and Orange Leaf (I go for the cheesecake bits and real blueberries --Ênom) have opened, Braum’s is going to open around the area of 26th and Main and I’ve heard rumors of a Baskin-Robbins coming. (I think those are just rumors, though. Don’t get your hopes up.)
On Wednesday’s front page the Globe featured the return of Anderson’s Ice Cream, which has a long history in Joplin.
I love hearing about all the memories that longtime Joplin residents have about Anderson’s (Wally Kennedy has a LOT of those memories). It’s the attachment to history that makes me excited about yet another frozen dessert place opening near 32nd and Range Line: Andy’s Frozen Custard.
Man, Joplin, are you in for a treat.
Andy’s serves a frozen custard, which is a specific, high-quality ice cream. It’s like squares and rectangles: Frozen custard is ice cream, but not all ice cream is custard.
Andy’s has been in business over in Springfield for more than 20 years. For a simple building with no seating, I spent a significant part of my life outside with a Straw-ana and friends, or dates. When The Lovely Paula and I travel to Springfield, a trip to Andy’s is usually part of the trip.
The only bad thing about Andy’s: Terrible ads on the radio. Andy’s has this ’60s, Partridge Family-style, bouncy, bah-ba-bah jingle that sticks in the head and makes you consider ripping out your high-end car stereo and listening to Pods or satellite radio for the rest of your life.
But that’s a small price to pay. Andy’s Frozen Custard is a big part of the Springfield dining scene for a reason -- it’s so delicious. I can’t wait for you to try some.