McGinnis: Comedian Titus brings show to Fat Fish BlueWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“I’m such a douche bag blue-collar kid, and I just got lucky ’cuz I know how to talk fast,” said Christopher Titus —who will bring his latest show, “The Angry Pursuit of Happiness,” to the Funny Bone at Fat Fish Blue from Jan. 17-19 — as he introduced himself for an interview with Toledo Free Press Star.
How to talk fast? Sure. But also how to talk with wit, insight, passion and more than a bit of anger — but not in a destructive way. Given all that Titus has been through in his life, it would be easy for him to descend into ferocious bitterness. But in an odd way, his comedy has always been about healing — whether it be through his string of one-man shows or his short-lived and much-loved Fox sitcom. He uses his gift of gab to share his tales with his audience, making them see the humor in the most uncomfortable of places — and in themselves.
“Because I was raised like that, my writing comes from that. My mom was crazy, literally in mental institutions, and my dad was a hard-drinking guy. And so, when you’re a kid and that’s going on in your life, you just learn to survive. And I think that’s why I can pull off stand-up comedy,” Titus said.
“I didn’t realize how screwed up we all were until I wrote ‘Norman Rockwell is Bleeding.’ And everybody has a screwed-up story. Rich people seem to be fine, because they have therapists. But people that are struggling every day, we’re f’ed up. … Sometimes, something horrible will happen in my life, and I’m like, ‘Oh, good, I got a new bit.’”
For Titus, a California native, doing comedy feels much like an addiction — the greatest drug in the world. “It’s just an extreme thing. I mean, that first laugh — I’ve never done heroin, but I assume that’s what it feels like,” he said. “That first laugh, when you’ve made the whole of Toledo laugh with something you thought of. There’s that shot of adrenaline and heroin, it’s just the best thing ever. And in the next minute, you can do a joke that’s dead silence, and it goes the other way. You go into survival mode. Same adrenaline, but it’s painful and scary.
“That’s why I had such a problem with network executives, because none of them had been on-stage, none of them had ever written anything, and none of them had ever got a laugh. So when they come to me and they had an idea, none of them know what they’re talking about. They all want to be connected to that happy heroin, but none of them want to take the hit if it doesn’t work.”
Like many of his comedy brethren, Titus takes to the road to develop and fine-tune a new act every few years with an eye on recording it for an album or televised special. But Titus takes a more structured approach to the process — each tour is a wholly new show built around a theme, giving each its own unique flavor. The act he’s bringing to Toledo is his sixth overall.
“I always find what needs to be said. What do I need to say in this show? This new show, ‘Angry Pursuit of Happiness,’ I wrote because I realized that I’ve been pissed off for the last decade. I’ve been angry since my show got canceled. I’ve been really, really pissed off, and then the divorce happened, and all my money got taken, and I’ve been really mad. And I’m really tired of being mad.
“So I was trying to figure out, how do I start to enjoy life? I’ve got this new wife now, and she’s amazing, and the divorce is kind of over now, except for a few drips and drabs. What do I want now? So I wrote from that.”
Family. Children. Love. Pain. Like the best comedians, Titus’ work cuts right to the bone of the human experience. And even so more than most, through laughing at the hurt, he encourages healing to begin.
“Usually I find that we’re all humans. We’re all blood, hair, bone, whatever. We all have the same story. Really, at the end of the day, we all have the same story. Whether I’m a comedian trying to get a bigger theater, or you’re a roofing contractor trying to get more clients — we’re all after the same thing, you know? And we kind of forget what that is on the way. More money is not it.”