If you’ve ever felt a human emotion, Christopher Titus is the comedian for you. From his hit show “Titus” to specials such as Amerigeddon or Born With a Defect, Titus shares relatable moments from his own life in a way that reminds us that we’re all flawed, that life is hard and, ultimately, that it’s all okay. Touching on love, anger and depression, it’s next to impossible not to laugh at your own flawed humanity. Weekly Alibi recently chatted with Titus about his body of work, coping with personal tragedy, founding Combustion World Industries and more. Catch Titus at The Stage at Santa Ana Star Casino (54 Jemez Canyon Dam Rd.) on Saturday, June 15, at 7pm or 9:30pm.
Weekly Alibi: So, I've been a big fan of yours for a really long time. I saw your special Love Is Evol when it first came out, and I absolutely fell in love.
Titus: I don't even know what to say. That's awesome. Yeah, Love Is Evol was one that I wrote so I didn't kill myself. But the people that it helped not kill themselves is huge! The letters I get, the emails I get—still, to this day—about it. Without Love Is Evol, I wouldn't be standing here right now.
That’s amazing and it’s what’s so great about your comedy—you’re such an honest comedian. You do talk about suicide and mental illness pretty constantly during your specials and even in some interviews, and that’s really had an impact on so many people. Do you have any advice for people coping with these things?
It’s so weird that you bring this up because this entire new show is about that. I broke in 70 new minutes last week, and the show is called Stories I Shouldn't Tell, and it’s just the worst stories of my life. It starts out being like, “Hey, thanks for coming down. You guys are awesome! You’re good? Good! You should appreciate it because we’re all gonna die!” That’s how the new show starts. And I try to solve suicide in it. I tell the story about my sister. And I tell one of the darkest jokes I’ve ever written. And this whole show is about tragedy. The one thing that makes us all the same—say what you will, but black, white, red, yellow, no matter how much money you have or don’t have, tragedy is gonna hit us all. Death is a bitch but death ain’t a racist. So we all have to deal with.
This one’s all about [getting] back to the personal, and we're all the same. These are the stories I couldn’t tell. It’s hard. Even hearing you talk about it, I could hear it’s hard to talk about it. It’s hard. But you have to try. I’m trying to talk about it in a way that’s dead honest. This is the most honest show I’ve ever done. I dug a little more into my own soul to show you guys the roots in there. And you know what’s weird? I did this set and it was fine and worked, and I rewrote it and did it on Saturday and it fucking killed. And I’m always thinking, “How are you people this screwed up?” How can you even understand? I was in bars with my mom when I was four years old. And I would tell this story and think, “No one’s gonna get this” and every show, people would come up to me and be like “Yah, for four years I lived in a bar with my dad.” So I guess as long as I keep telling the truth, I’m a human being like everybody else. So as long as I keep telling these stories … I think I just gotta keep telling the truth, man. I really know—I can tell when I’m not really telling the truth is when the audience isn’t laughing. When I’m not being honest about a story, it’s just dead silent. They know.
There’s a fine line between shocking and alienating your audience and then having them relate to you. How do you find that balance between saying the truth, when the truth is insane or obscene, and not freaking out your audience?
It’s not the joke itself. It’s the build to it. You want to get the audience to be okay with you telling that joke. You have to build to that joke. It ain’t a tragedy if you can add a punchline. So anything you want to say, you can say it—I proved it. But you have to lead them. Think of it as you’re taking them on the scariest ride and you’re the guy that runs the ride, so you know where the real danger is, so you just get them close to the danger but you’ve got to let them know. By that time in the show, I’ve got them to a point where they’re like, “Okay, he’s gonna talk about everything and anything.” And you can tell that some people hated themselves for laughing. You can’t just backhand them with something horrible. You have to let them know, “I'm gonna hit you, okay?” Just figure out a way to let them know what’s coming.
Tell me about Combustion World Industries.
So Combustion World Industries I started a while ago. We started to [make] a jacket line and I realized that I don’t sell clothing. That’s not my thing. So we started getting projects together that we wanted to do. We did some music videos and we filmed my last four comedy specials. Then I got two investors and myself and we shot Special Unit. After getting ripped off pretty bad on Love Is Evol, I decided that I’d rather make less money and do it my way than do it their way.
So your dad always told you, “Don't be a wussy.” My dad always told me, “No one cares about your problems.” And I've heard you say again and again, “Tragedy is constant.” Is that your dadism?
Yeah. I tell people that, and they always say, “Don't be negative.” But I’m not being negative; I’m just telling you to work hard now because something bad’s coming. Just make sure you’re enjoying it. This show’s about this: Don't ride your tragedy. Life is what happens between tragedy.
Red or green chile?
Pineapple on pizza: Yes or no?
What’s your favorite dinosaur?
Which kid is your favorite?
Right now, my daughter.
How do you like your eggs?
Omelette style with lots of hot sauce.
Do you have a spirit animal?
Well, my ex-wife is a scorpion. You know you want to pick something cool but then you just sound like a douche. My spirit animal would probably be a kangaroo. Because they’re goofy and they’re funny but they’ll beat your ass if you bother them.