Dark humor

Dark humor

Christopher Titus visits Funny Bone

 By Leo DeLuca
 Photo:  Comedian Christopher Titus will visit the Dayton Funny Bone March 1-3

Comedian Christopher Titus first came to prominence with “Titus” – a contentious FOX television program that aired in the early aughts. While censors admonished him to tone down his sinister humor, Titus refused to compromise and the show was eventually canceled. Nevertheless, Time hailed “Titus” as “brutal, hilarious and audacious.” The Newark, Calif. native has since moved on to a successful career in comedy.

Titus’ humor is shaped by a dysfunctional childhood and a life wrought with adversity. He is quoted as saying, “I think our collective psychosis is hilarious. With the world moving as fast as it is, if we weren’t dysfunctional, we couldn’t function.” For Titus, the answer to dealing with life’s hardships arrives in comedy.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Christopher Titus in anticipation of his forthcoming residency at the Funny Bone Comedy Club:

When did you first start performing stand-up comedy? 

When I was 19 years old. I was a fetus with jokes. My dad and I were having fistfights, so he went away one weekend and I moved out. I lived with my aunt for three years and drove 45 minutes two ways, three times a week to get on stage at the clubs in San Francisco. It was tough. Thank God I was a fetus and had the energy and the stupidity to do it. –Christopher Titus

What propelled you to start performing? Did you have a set prepared for your first performance or was it impromptu? 

I had no other skills and no other possibilities for my life. California Public Schools – it’s not my fault. I wrote what I thought was 15 minutes, practiced it for a month and used up all that material in five minutes. I had worked for months in my aunt’s garage speaking into a tape recorder. Sometimes I would practice two hours a night. I finally got enough courage to sign up for open mic night. I remember two things, “Please welcome Christopher Titus …” and “That was Christopher Titus, you’re going to be seeing a lot of that guy …” I had practiced so long that I knew the material backward and forward so I didn’t screw it up, but I don’t remember a word I said. -CT

Your humor has an element of darkness to it shaped by a tumultuous upbringing. Do fans often inform you that they find your humor to be curative in dealing with their own struggles? 

Yes. I do get a lot of letters from people saying it changed their lives. I keep a letter in my nightstand at home in case I ever get whiny. It was from a guy in Sacramento who said that he was going to kill himself on Valentine’s Day in 2007 because his fiancée had canceled their wedding. He had sat down and had a bottle of tequila and a handgun in front of him. He said he had sat on the remote and had butt-turned-on Comedy Central. “Your special ‘Love is Evol’ had started and I started drinking and started laughing and crying and thought if you could get through that, I don’t have to kill myself.” I keep it to stop me from being a jerk. Although, it puts a lot of pressure on me for the next special. What if it sucks and we have mass suicide? -CT

You had your own sitcom “Titus” in the early aughts. It is said that the show was canceled due to your uncompromising approach toward the show. Can you elaborate on “Titus” – how you got the opportunity, why the show ended, etc.?

People said I was difficult. Honestly the show was my real life and my real family so I was maybe too close to it. FOX had four network presidents in three years, so the agenda of these people would send the show in a different direction or they would at least try. People forget that that year at FOX was a massacre. The only shows that survived that year were “Titus” and “Malcolm in the Middle.” To this day though, people are mildly crazy about the show. It didn’t end up in the discount bin. The boxed sets go for up to $250 per set. I’m kind of proud of that. –CT

What are your plans for the future? 

I’ve started a production company and we just shot my first special without the help of anyone else; no outside network or company. We are raising money for our first crazy comedy called “Special Unit.” The premise: due to the fairness and disabilities act, the LAPD has to hire four handicapped undercover detectives. I play a corrupt cop who has to train them. It’s insanely funny. I can’t wait to shoot it. I also don’t let the voice in my head run my life anymore. I just let it help me make comedy. I also plan to keep using newspapers to promote my new special “The Voice in My Head,” which is being released on April Fool’s Day online only. Ten percent of all the money raised goes to my charity for homeless kids, The In-Sight Youth Project. For someone who has no other skills, I’m pretty damn lucky with how things ended up. -CT

Christopher Titus will perform Friday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3 at the Dayton Funny Bone Comedy Club, 88 Plum Street, Suite 200 at The Greene. Shows at 7:30 p.m. each night with a 10 p.m. show on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit christophertitus.com.

 

Reach DCP freelance writer Leo DeLuca at LeoDeLuca@daytoncitypaper.com

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