Watts was born in Stuttgart, the only child of Christiane and Charles Alphonso Watts. His mother is French and his father is African American. His father was an officer in the United States Air Force and the family lived in Germany and Spain before relocating to Great Falls, Montana, where Watts was raised and graduated from Great Falls High School in the class of 1990. Watts also took piano and violin lessons from the age of five until he was 16, and has said his love for music started as a young child when he saw Ray Charles playing the piano on television.
Watts moved to Seattle, Washington in 1990 at the age of 18 to study music. He briefly attended the Art Institute of Seattle before studying jazz at Cornish College of the Arts. While in Seattle, he played in a number of Seattle bands of wildly varying genres, including Hit Explosion, Swampdweller, Action Buddy, Chiarrscuro, Clementine, Smell No Taste, Wayne Horvitz 4+1 Ensemble, Das Rut, Synthclub, Elemental, Eyvand Kang Seven Nades, and Free Space, amongst others.
In 1996, Watts became the front man for soul, rock, and hip hop group Maktub.
While recording and touring in 1996-2000 with Wayne Horvitz 4+1 Ensemble as a keyboardist, Watts was forced to downsize his effects pedal from a Roland Space Echo tape delay to a Line 6 DL4 delay modeler, a smaller device that makes it easy to travel. He began using the Line 6 in live shows with Maktub, in order to replicate the duplicate harmonies from the recorded material. Then, he experimented with improvising entire songs in solo acts with the Line 6, while trying to sound like Tom Waits, playing initial gigs at small Seattle venues and artist bungalows. While in Seattle, Watts composed musical scores for Northwest dance choreographers and he dabbled in sketch comedy with future theatrical collaborator Tommy Smith.
In 2004, after recording five albums over eight years, Watts moved to the Lower East Side, New York City. In 2005, he recorded his first solo single, "So Beautiful". Inspired by The State and Wet Hot American Summer, he began infusing spontaneous comedic material with the beat-box-driven musical compositions. He shot comedic web shorts for Superdeluxe, Vimeo and CollegeHumor.
In 2006, Watts started to branch out into performing for television and film, while continuing to pursue live performance and the creation of new performance technologies.
In 2007, Watts appeared on Plum TV's "Scott Bateman Presents Scott Bateman Presents" and starred in the CollegeHumor internet video "What About Blowjobs?" The video became a viral hit. The same year, he also wrote and performed the theme song for Penelope Princess of Pets, a web comedy series featuring Kristen Schaal and H. Jon Benjamin.
In 2008, Watts recorded a new special entitled "Disinformation", which features his performance at the Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theater. He also appeared in the independent film "Steel of Fire Warriors 2010 A.D." as a Mutantzoid Underling and on an episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as making other various television appearances.
In 2009, Watts recorded his first solo EP, Pot Cookies. He also began appearing on the PBS Kids' children's program, "The Electric Company". Watts performed in his first solo short film "Watts Does London" and made a small appearance on Comedy Central's Michael and Michael Have Issues. He then did voice work for an episode of Adult Swim's The Venture Bros. as "The Delivery Guy", Australia's "Good News Week", and appeared in the UK documentary The Yes Men Fix the World. Watts also toured in direct support of Devo in a fall 2009 tour which featured that band's albums Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and Freedom of Choice played in full.
In 2010, Waverly Films shot a one-hour special on Watts called Why Shit So Crazy?. The special features Watts in live performance at New York venues Galapagos, The Bellhouse, and Le Poisson Rouge, bookended with brief sketches and a music video of Watts' "Fuck Shit Stack". Comedy Central aired Why Shit So Crazy? and released the film as a dual DVD/CD package. Afterwards, Watts made various public appearances, including in Conan O'Brien's The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.
Watts's second stand-up special, Reggie Watts: A "Live" in Central Park, premiered on May 12, 2012 on Comedy Central in the "Secret Stash" completely uncensored to positive reviews.
The film was made available as a CD/DVD through Watts' official website as well as Comedy Central's online store.
Soon afterwards, Watts performed a song with LCD Soundsystem on their farewell documentary movie, Shut Up and Play the Hits.
In 2012, Watts began starring opposite Scott Aukerman on the IFC series Comedy Bang! Bang!, based on the comedy podcast of the same name (formerly Comedy Death-Ray Radio).
Also in 2012, Watts began collaborating with Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, and Sarah Silverman to create their comedy YouTube channel known as Jash.
In 2013, On The Boards recorded a new Watts special entitled Transition, which played at various arts festivals including the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater; it was winner of the MAP Fund Award and Creative Capital award. It is available on iTunes via TenduTV.
Watts was invited to perform at Yoko Ono's Meltdown 2013 on the South Bank in London where he was supported by Mac Lethal.
In 2014, Watts contributed the outro vocal on "Holy City" and beatbox on "The Classic" from the Joan As Police Woman album The Classic. He also appeared as the last act in the season 4 premiere of John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show where he told some jokes and performed a song, hugging John Oliver at the end.
In December 2014, following CBS's announcement that Watts would lead The Late Late Show band, Aukerman announced that Watts would remain with Comedy Bang! Bang! through only the first half of 2015. Watts' final episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! was on June 5, 2015.
Watts currently serves as the bandleader and announcer for The Late Late Show with James Corden. He has described his role on the show as "... a mix of Paul Shaffer and Andy Richter." His band on the show is unofficially named "Karen". Watts has a slot on the show to ask a guest a question about anything (called Reggie's Question on show clips). The questions are a continuation of his time on Comedy Bang! Bang!, and follow his preference for surreal comedy in his stand-up act.
Watts' second Netflix special, Spatial, was released on December 6, 2016.
Watts's solo shows are completely improvised and consist of him singing and rapping both with words and with Sound poetry accompanying himself by either beatboxing and performing vocal basslines into a loop machine, or simply by playing the keyboard. His act also showcases his trademark style of standup comedy, consisting of him rapidly alternating between topics of discussion in both rational and nonsensical manners, making random sounds and noises, and speaking in other accents and languages at unexpected times, all with the intent of playfully and comically disorienting his audiences.Steel of Fire Warriors 2010 A.D. (2008) as Mutantzoid Underling in Bar
The Yes Men Fix the World (2009) as Himself
Reggie Watts Does London (2009)
Why Shit So Crazy? (2010) as Himself
Tell Your Friends! The Concert Film (2012) as Himself
Shut Up and Play the Hits (2012) as Himself
A Live at Central Park (2012) as Himself
Transition (2013) as Himself
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) as Tone Hanger Singer and Beatboxer
Creative Control (2015) as Himself
My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (2016) as Assaf
Spatial (2016) as Himself
Keep In Touch (2016) as Dr. Harry Clark
Scott Batemen Presents Scott Batemen Presents (2007) as Himself
Saving Steve Agee (2007) as Himself
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (2009) as Himself
Made Here (2009) as Himself
The Ha!ifax Comedy Fest (2009) as Himself
The Venture Bros. (2009) as The Delivery Guy
The Electric Company (2009-2011) as Music Man
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (2010) as Himself
Good News Week (2010) as Himself
Team Coco Presents the Conan Writers Live (2010) - Himself
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (2011)
Cracker Night (2011) as Himself
Mash Up (2011)
Talk Stoop (2011) as Himself
Funny As Hell (2011) as Himself
Doctor Who: The Best-of Specials (2011) as Host
The Green Room with Paul Provenza (2011) as Himself
Delocated (2012) as Himself
Russell Howard's Good News (2012) as Himself
The Top 100 Video Games of All Time (2012) as Himself
7 Minutes in Heaven (2012) as Himself
Stand Down: True Tales from Stand-Up Comedy (2012) as Himself
Mash Up (2012) as Himself
The Secret Policeman's Ball (2012) as Himself
Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell (2013) as Himself
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (2013)
Reggie Makes Music (2013)
2013 YouTube Music Awards (2013) as Host
America's Next Top Model (2013) as Himself
Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012–2016) as Himself
Inside Amy Schumer (2014) as Neighbor
The Late Late Show with James Corden (2015–present) as Himself
Taskmaster (2017–present) as Taskmaster
NightHawk (2006) as Neighbor
CollegeHumor - "What About Blowjobs?" (2007)
bd - "I Just Want To" (2009)
"Fuck Shit Stack" (2010)
Pop!Tech - "Reggie Watts: Humor In Music" (2011)
Pop!Tech - "Reggie Watts: A Send-Off In Style" (2011)
Funny or Die - "Reggie Watts Live" (2012)
TED - "Reggie Watts Disorients You in the Most Entertaining Way" (2012)
"Reggie Watts Is Skrillex" (2012)
Jash - Various Videos (2013–present)
"Ian Up For Whatever" - Bud Light Super Bowl XLVIII ad (2014)
Hispanglosaxon - "Brasilia: City of the Future" (2017)
Why Shit So Crazy? (2010)
Live at Third Man - 12" Vinyl (2011)
A Live at Central Park (2012)
"So Beautiful" (2005)
"Get Ready" (2014)
Subtle Ways (1999)
Say What You Mean (2005)
Start It Over (2007)
4+1 Ensemble (Intuition, 1996)
From a Window (Avant, 2000)
"Closer" [Brent Laurence feat. Reggie Watts] (2004)
"Dance Anthem of the 80's" [Regina Spektor] (2012)
"Spaghetti Circus" [Still Going feat. Reggie Watts] (2012)
"Drunk Texts to Myself" Trevor Moore feat. Reggie Watts] (2013)
"We Got A Love" [Shit Robot feat. Reggie Watts] (2013)
"MFN" / "Housekeeping" Cibo Matto, Hotel Valentine (2014)
"Holy City" / "The Classic" Joan as Police Woman (2014)
"Sunshine" Flight Facilities (2014)
"There Should Be Unicorns" Oczy Mlody, The Flaming Lips, 2017
Watts is the winner of the 2005 Malcolm Hardee "Oy Oy" Award, the 2006 Andy Kaufman Comedy Award, and the 2006 Seattle Mayor's Arts Award. He was also awarded the 2008 MAP Fund and the 2009 Creative Capitol Grant for the performing arts, and won the 2009 ECNY Award for Best Musical Comedy Act.