The Los Angeles Times reported that 63% of American Families are now considered dysfunctional. That means we’re the majority. We’re normal. It’s the people that had the mom, dad, brother, sister, little white picket fence; those people are the freaks.
Those were the first words I heard from Christopher Titus. It was a line directly pulled from his stand up comedy special called “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding”, but I didn’t know that when I heard it. I was watching him start that monologue on his TV show Titus when I watched it on DVD.
To be honest I don’t know where I had the idea to pick up the DVD. I just remember standing in a Futureshop looking at TV shows to buy and Titus stood out to me. It could’ve been I remembered the actor who played Titus’ brother was Scut Farkus from “A Christmas Story“. I honestly don’t know. All I can recall is I bought it and took it home to watch it on my 20” TV set in my bedroom playing through my original Xbox and I instantly enjoyed it.
The problem with a lot of TV shows now is the “Just keep watching, it gets better.” mentality. It took me 3 or 4 episodes to enjoy Arrow, it took me a whole mini series and an episode to enjoy Battlestar Galactica. It took me 8 episodes to really get into Mad Men. That’s a lot of time to invest to a show that you could either hate or love. Not with Titus. They pulled me in from the very first episode called “Dad’s Dead.” I say to this day it is the best pilot ever created for TV. It’s possible I may retract that statement someday and make that only for Sitcoms, but for right now “Dad’s Dead“ is number one. Let me just give you a piece of dialogue from that episode, it happens immediately after the opening credits:
TITUS: What do you mean Dad’s dead?
DAVE: I think….Dad is dead.
TITUS: Not a lot of grey area here Dave. Dead. Not dead. Is there a pulse?
DAVE: ....I don’t know.
TITUS: I’ve taken a half-a-day off work there better be a corpse…..I mean…what make’s you think he’s dead?
DAVE: He’s been in his room for four days now.
TITUS: Right, and?
DAVE: Without getting a beer.
TITUS: (gets upset) Oh my God…
After reading this, I only just realized how morbid that is to think that that dialogue was funny. So I’ve included the clip below so you can see what I mean.
Remember, this was a show created in 2001. Before Family Guy, before dysfunctional family sitcoms were even a thing. Titus combined regular sitcom situations on a set, but combined them with an internal monologue from Titus in a Black-And-White room with a large wooden chair, flashbacks and “Dads Fist Cams”. It kept adding a whole lot of different ideas that Three-Camera-Audience-Laugh-Track TV Shows at the time hadn’t done before.
It may or may not pique your interest, but I can tell you in my early twenties brain synapses fired and I was hooked. I watched all three seasons of the show and it kept getting funnier, then seriously emotional and then extremely hilarious again.
At the time though what I didn’t know was that Titus was a stand up comedian and the entire first season of the show was almost literally ripped from his own act. Practically the whole first episode is that first album “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding“. When I did find out that he was a comic, I went to iTunes and downloaded as many of his albums as he had available. Which were only Rockwell and “The 5th Annual End of The World Tour“
I now own (digitally) all his albums and I keep listening to them over and over and over and over again. What struck me as the most intriguing thing about his act is that he had “Standard Stand-Up Comedy Jokes” that a lof ot comics had. But what was amazing about Chris is that he told stories. Not only just stories, but stories about his real life. I never grew up in the environment he did, but when he told of his five-time-divorced Dad, or his “Shacked up in the Whacko Basket” Mom, they were entertaining. As weird as that was to write, Titus had sucked me in as he told those horrific stories and yet by his performance, he made them funny.
In the month that led up to my first performance on my birthday, I listened to his albums almost on repeat (I say almost because I switched between a few other comedians which I will write about later). I studied the way he told his stories, the way he emphasized certain words. The way he described how certain situations happened. How he even added his own internal monologue which he calls “His inner retard” that as harsh and Politically Incorrect as that sounds is super funny.
“For an idiot he’s surprisingly self-aware.”
I think I might actually give a review or two of his albums, but for now I’ll leave you with this. There are several Stand-Up Comics that I look up to. I wish to God that I could have the talent to be able to craft jokes the way they do and make people laugh, but I know the talents that God gave me. Writing “Standard Stand-Up Comedy Jokes” is not one of them. However, I can tell a story up on stage, as my birthday show could attest to. I won’t copy what Titus and others have done with their stories, because they are the only ones who can tell it, but I can gleam techniques from them. I can learn techniques that I hadn’t picked up before. Like Titus, I can take the most horrible, embarrassing story I know and can make it funny. All it takes is practice and inspiration.
That’s why Christopher Titus is a storyteller I admire.
As always I remain obediently yours