STAND-UP TUESDAYS: Christopher Titus

titus

Stand-Up Tuesdays is a weekly comedy spotlight written by the wonderfully talented Angie Frissore. Covering both known and unknown comics, Stand-up Tuesdays is your new source for all things funny.

This week, Angie puts a spotlight on Christopher Titus’ comedy career. If you or your comedy troupe would like to be featured on Stand-Up Tuesdays, please email utgjames@gmail.com.

If you happened to miss Christopher Titus: Voice in My Head airing on Comedy Central this past weekend, never you fear – the full, uncensored digital album was released today on Comedy Central Records, giving you the opportunity to hear every last bit of awesome.

Recorded live at the Tower Theatre in Fresno, California, Voice in My Head features the veteran comedian recounting some of his greatest life failures. From inadvertently yelling at a blind woman to scarring a child for life while dressed up as Darth Vader, Titus revels in the magnitude of his fuck ups.

“My name is Christopher Titus,” he introduces. “I’m a loser and I can prove it. I said one sentence one time that cost me $30 million. Who wants to play, bitches?”

Through his epic fails and shortcomings, Titus once again connects on a deeper level with his audience, which is a common theme throughout the five 90-minute specials he’s put out. At one point, he paints a brilliantly awkward scenario in which he is faced with meeting three of his musical idols, only to end up saying the most ridiculous things possible – which not only makes you laugh, but also cringe with empathy, knowing exactly how it must have felt.

In honor of his new special, Titus recently took the time to chat with me about his career, the special, and (drum roll, please) the possible return of “Titus.”

UTG: How are you, Christopher?

CT: I’m doing great. How’s life?

UTG: Great! Congratulations on the new special!

CT: Thanks, man. I’m excited – my fifth 90 minute special. This one’s about all my screw ups – it’s great that I can mine every mistake I’ve made and get paid for it.

UTG: That’s fantastic. You also are able to mine a lot of negative experiences and use that for humor as well.

CT: Yeah, I’ve been really blessed. This one’s called Voice in My Head. I’m to a point now where when my life goes too well, I get scared. I’m like, I don’t have anything to write about. Good stuff isn’t funny! How the hell am I going to write about this? If my car’s on fire and upside-down at an intersection and I’m okay, at least I know I’ve got a new ten minute bit coming.

UTG: There you go. That’s a great way to look at things.

CT: Two specials from now I’ll be doing my prostate cancer special. It’s just going to keep going.

UTG: And eventually we’ll get to the Medicare and Social Security bits.

CT: (laughs) Exactly. ‘Why can’t I keep poop in myself?’ That’ll be the last special I probably do.

UTG: Everybody poops, but not in their pants like me.

CT: (laughs)…but most people know when they do. I don’t anymore. I like that you’re a four year old and laughing at poop jokes, it’s great. It makes me happy.

UTG: It’s the oldest joke in the world, man.

CT: It never stops being funny!

UTG: So that kind of pertains to one of the questions I was going to ask you about: how have you seen your writing style evolve throughout your career?

CT: You know what’s weird is that I love to write comedy, I really do. I got a Writers’ Guild nomination for writing on ‘Titus’, and I learned a lot from those guys. There were some great writers on that show that taught me a lot. It’s weird because there are so many different ways to tell a story. On ‘Neverloution’, I did this thing where I started a story, then went off on a tangent and came back to it, like four or five times. My writing has evolved to a point where I find that the more honest I get, the better it gets. Right now, there’s a lot of clever comedy out there. There’s some great writers out there, but it’s all about raping grandma jokes – really stuff that you know didn’t really happen. I’ve found that the older I get, the more I really don’t care what people think. I’m just going to tell them the truth – that’s what has made it so much better. As boring as it is when you talk about comedy – how do you make comedy not funny? Let’s analyze it.

UTG: I’ve always said that more personal material that your audience can empathize with is always more powerful.

CT: Comics ask me, ‘Why do you do that? Why do you tell the story about your mom’s suicide?’ or ‘Why did you talk about you and your dad getting in a fist fight?’ I always say, ‘Because that’s what happened.’ And they go, ‘Well, not everybody’s going to understand that.’ People have this thing – everybody thinks they’re special. I don’t mean it in a bad way, I mean it in a ‘my life is so hard, this only happens to me’ way. I’ll tell you what, if you have bones, blood, hair and skin I guarantee you some version of this story happened to you. There’s some twisted version in your life where this kind of happened. You got in a fight with your uncle or your dad or your mom, someone in your family did something crazy…as long as you’re telling your truth, you’re probably telling everybody’s truth.

UTG: Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. That’s one of my favorite things about you; whenever you watch any of your specials, you feel a connection.

CT: Wow.

UTG: You’re opening a vein and so many people can relate to that.

CT: (laughs) I like that you describe it with just a tad of violence – opening a vein. I like that. There’s a puncture in there somewhere, I like that. It’s also a lot easier to recreate it every night. The hard part about stand up is – and I learned this from Dana Carvey – you have to tell the same story for the first time. I’ve never lost that; Dana told me to tell the same story over and over again for the first time. When you’re making up a bunch of jokes about airplane food or what’s hip right now, doing a hipster joke, whatever – I can’t find the passion for it. I can do a joke for a little while and then I lose the passion for it – unless it’s based in a true story, and then it’s a lot easier to tell the story again because as I’m telling the story, I was there. I relive the story, and that makes the bit that much better.

UTG: Right, you’re reliving the emotions that you experience and everything.

CT: Right. And I’m a brilliant performer.

UTG: (laughs) Well, no one’s contesting that!

CT: (laughs) I just wanted to see how far you thought I was crazy. ‘This guy’s really an asshole!’

UTG: (laughs) Will we ever see you come back to television? God, I miss your show.

CT: Yeah! We’re actually working on Fox right now, trying to get them to let us do that. Because I ended up in a mental hospital – the end of that series, I’ve checked into a mental hospital. That was the last episode. We’re going to do thirteen more. I’m to the point now where we may just go ahead and start writing, and do some stuff. We have a small sound stage that I’m renting; we’re actually going to crowd-fund a movie called ‘Special Unit’ – we actually did a pilot for Comedy Central awhile back called ‘Special Unit’, and due to the Fairness and Disability Act the LAPD is forced to hire four handicapped undercover detectives, and I’m the training officer who’s half-criminal, half-cop who has to train them.

UTG: That is fantastic news!

CT: We end up asking for forgiveness instead of permission.

UTG: (laughs) Well, whatever you have to do, man. By hook or by crook.

CT: I like that – that’s exactly how I feel about it. Let’s break some walls.

UTG: You’ve done some pilots that haven’t been picked up. Now, do you get to do anything else with them after the fact?

CT: I’ve written a bunch – I’ve sold seven different shows. ‘Titus’ I sold, and we made ‘Special Unit’. But the other five, I’ve made money off of the scripts, and I’ve made money off of the deals. I love my stand up so much, and I swore to god I’d never be ‘actor meat’. I always wanted to have a job that I could go to and make money, and stand up’s that job. Thank god for stand up comedy. I will never stop doing it. The sad part now, the way things are going with Youtube and you can have your own filming stuff – I might just start shooting stuff on my own and put it out. To me, you pour your heart into a script, and you pour your heart into these characters and a story and then some kid who just graduated from an Ivy League school goes, ‘Yeah, no, we’re going to basically our version of The New Girl. Yeah, we’re doing that.’ There’s some people that moved up from assistant, or they got a degree – they’ve never been on stage, they’ve never written a script, and I have to go pitch to them in a meeting. I’ve had thirty years of being on stage in front of people, so I’m to the point now where I’m like, ‘I’m not even going to bring it to you, I’m just gonna film it. If you want to buy it, fine, we’ll talk.’ But it is – it’s heartbreaking to write them and they just go away. So what I do now in my contract is that they can hold it for 29 months. If they don’t use it in 29 months it reverts back to me.

UTG: Nice. Yeah, with the Youtube generation, getting your stuff out there is a must. So the special on Comedy Central was cut down quite a bit, and there are some great stories that didn’t make it to air.

CT: The special was an hour and forty-seven minutes and they’re only going to show sixty-six on Comedy Central. So the entire DVD will be available on my website on October 8th. I tell you what, if you want to feel better about any possible fuck up in your life, watch this special. I guarantee you’ll feel better – you can say, ‘At least I’m not Titus!’

Christopher Titus: The Voice in My Head is a brilliant tribute to the inner retard in all of us, reminding us that no one has the market cornered on failure. Hilariously self-aware and scathingly honest, Voice in My Head more than proves that honesty is the best policy – especially in comedy. Pick up your copy today, and then head on over to the Special Unit project page and show some love!

Grade: A

 

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