Comedian and actor Christopher Titus grew up in a very dysfunctional home. For much of his childhood, he had to deal with a clinically depressed mother who also suffered from schizophrenia, a father who drank too much and brought an endless parade of stepmothers in the house, as well as other issues. Many would use this as an excuse to just give up and do nothing in life, or even escape into drug abuse. Titus decided to follow his “what doesn’t kill you makes you funny” philosophy and profit from his hard times.
He started doing stand up routines based on his screwed up home life. He quickly connected with audiences who had gone through similar rough times and let them know they’re not alone. He states proudly that screwed up people are the majority in today’s world and he thinks it can be a good thing.”Normal people,” he says, “haven’t had enough problems to know how to handle it when something bad happens.” He says that a person who has come from a dysfunctional home can adjust much easier when something goes wrong because “after you’ve driven your drunk father to mom’s parole hearing… what else is there?” His routine Norman Rockwell is Bleeding held nothing back. In describing his mother, he says his mom is crazy in a “we, the jury, find the defendant…” way, discusses taping his dad’s DUI arrest when it was aired on TV and gleefully sharing it at family reunions, and talks about his humiliation about being scared of an ex who was much smaller then he is, but actually managed to kick his ass at times. He also describes his experiences growing up with a father who did not believe in sugar coating anything and wanted his son to learn his lessons the hard way if need be. While these don’t sound like great material for a comedy routine, Titus manages to find the funny in each instance and get it across to the audience.
Eventually word of mouth got out and Titus caught the attention of FOX executives who loved what he had to say as much as the audience did. They quickly signed him to a deal and began developing a comedy series based on his stand up routine (many bits from the routine ended up in the series almost word for word). The result, Titus, was a hit. Its premiere episode became FOX’s highest rated live action comedy and fans managed to find and stick with the show despite several schedule changes. The show tackled everything from mental illness to homophobia to child molestation. Eventually, new executives unhappy with the subject matter decided to end the show and Titus began working on other projects.
One of these projects in a new stand up special called “The 5th Annual End of the World Tour”. During the hour he’s on stage he tackles racism, the church molestation scandals and being a new father in a post 9/11 world among other things with not even a hint of political correctness.
Throughout the special, he displays excellent comic timing. During his bit on racism (where he apologizes on behalf of all white men for slavery) he explains why we did it with the line “we were trying to build a new country! We would’ve gotten the Indians to help, but…. we killed them all.” In the moment he says this line, you can just see the light bulb go of over his head as he realizes that far worse things were done to another group. This is brilliantly followed by a resigned look on his face as he apologizes for that as well. Another wonderful display of acting talent comes when he talks about his late father’s favorite phrase: “Step up, or step aside”. This quickly becomes a tirade against his father for passing several months before his first child was born, yelling “you stepped aside!” He doesn’t let the mood get down for long, though. The next line, “Now I have to step up” is accompanied with an “oh….” and another light bulb moment that gets an enthusiastic laugh from his audience.
Titus also displays a bold, tell-it-like-it-is attitude in this routine. During his apologies for white-committed atrocities, he stops short of apologizing for Hiroshima and Japanese interment camps, saying “You started that.” Later on, he challenges anyone in the audience who finds his idea of the church crucifying priests who molest kids to give him the “pro-raping little kids” side of the argument.”
Overall, “The 5th Annual End of the World Tour” is an entertaining, well-written look at life in today’s world that mixes deep, dramatic moments with hilarious commentary. It’s well-worth checking out for anyone who is not easily offended.