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 "Dysfunctional." I'm not dysfunctional. I'm evolving to the next level.

Christopher Titus (born 1966) is a comedian who has done work in many different areas of entertainment, but primarily in Stand Up Comedy. Born in California, he began stand-up at the age of 18 with a simple gag he did at his high school about how to properly throw freshmen into the garbage can.

His growing up experience was on the extreme end of what most people would consider, "dysfunctional." His father, Ken Titus, was a hard-drinking, chain-smoking womanizer with a string of failed marriages [1] that each ended with Ken getting cleaned out of everything he had and constantly fighting for custody of his children, professionally a salesman and a former National Guardsman. He used Tough Love (that sometimes bordered on self-esteem-crushing sadism) to set Titus and his brother, Dave, straight [2]. His mother Juanita (Ken's second wife; maiden name Holmes) was a concert pianist, spoke four languages, was a Supreme Chef (especially around Thanksgiving), had a 180 IQ, and qualified for Miss California in the 1960s. Despite her high intellect and amazing talent, Juanita was also a manipulative, mentally-ill [3] alcoholic who could convince everyone -- including mental hospital board members -- into thinking she had her mental illness under control, only for her to fall into another psychotic episode [4]. Christopher said that for him all this was just normal and it wasn't until much later in life that he realized it was wildly unusual.

One of the defining moments of his life and a key part of his stand-up routine is the fact that as a teenager he was a big partyer (taking from his Dad, who had that Jekyll-and-Hyde style personality flip whenever he drank alcohol) but quit drinking and partying when he fell into a bonfire and (barely) survived. As he says "Does anyone ever shudder with the crap that you pulled off and didn't die?"

When he started traveling the stand-up circuit, he kept his material in the realm of observational comedy of the "Hey, you ever walk into a store and see..." type. He was scared of showing the audience just how extreme he could be but under the demands of his manager he began edging in his dysfunctional family life into his act. Specifically, he talked about how scared he was that his mother's insanity could be genetic and that he wanted to stay away from utensils while guests were around. The results surprised him as the audience loved it and if he ever went back to the "walk into a store" routine they would immediately turn off. Eventually his material encompassed everything about his family and the stuff he had to deal with.

Now he considers his routine to be "Therapeutic Stand-Up" in that being able to joke about such topics as domestic violence, mental illness, suicide, family dysfunction, and alcoholism has allowed him to accept those things in his life and move on. He started to make it big in the late 90's with some TV guest appearances and becoming a featured performer at various comedy clubs.

His act caught the attention of FOX television producers Jack Kenny and Brian Hargrove who met with him about adapting his act now named "Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding" into the television show Titus, which aired in early 2000. They took many of the bits of the act and adapted it into entire episodes, and other episodes were directly inspired by events from Christopher's life. Kenny and Hargrove had experience in theater arts and Christopher is a stage performer, so much of the show was structured in that way. It was a remarkably well-conceived and well-received television show and lasted a respectable 3 years, but because of the material it was considered "pushing the envelope" too much and was canceled. Christopher said he prefered the show was canceled due to its content rather than being "not funny" (you will still find people praising the show on youtube). He's recently admitted that he mouthed off to the President of Fox at the start of Season 3 when she gave him a new direction she thought the show should go in. He proceeded to explain how horrible an idea it was, but did it infront of her entire staff, making a life long enemy.

After the show he continued to make random TV appearances but regularly made the stand-up circuit. He had a role in the drama Big Shots that lasted only one season.

Outside of his professional career he is an avid car fan (reflected in Titus) and close friends with legendary car customizer Chip Foose.

He is also involved with a popular podcast he started in early 2011, named the Combustion Lounge with the "Armageddon Update" where he takes some horrific recent news story and proceed to talk about the moral values involved. It is done weekly with longtime friend "Stuntman Tommy" Tommy Primo and his girlfriend "Bombshell Rae" Rachel Bradley (Titus's new girlfriend as described on "Love is Evol.")

The Comedy Specials that Christopher Titus has made include the following:

  • Norman Rockwell is Bleeding (2004): Covers most of his childhood and the early part of his adult life. Key moments involve living with his hard-assed father, having a schizophrenic mother, realizing that his family is dysfunctional, the bonfire incident, taping his dad's drunken stop at a checkpoint during a news broadcast, dating an abusive Jewish girl, dating Erin (and the fight that ensued when they temporarily broke up and both of them cheated on each other), his mom's abusive relationships with other men, and dealing with his mom's suicide (including the incident in which he freaked out on an airplane after smelling a turkey dinner).
  • 5th Annual End-Of-The-World Tour (2006): Covers his time as a parent and how scared he is that the world is falling apart after the September 11th attacks (his daughter was born late August of 2001, making him feel his timing was way off). Key moments involve both the decision to have kids and the birth of his daughter, the need for an apology to be made to fix the race barriers, the lack of definitive decision making in both the government and religious issues (pedophile pastors), events in raising his kids, and his father's death and bizarre funeral.
  • Love is Evol (2008): Covers the time after he had divorced his wife and his thoughts on the emotional baggage of trying to find love. Key moments involve his failing marriage, the circumstances behind the divorce, Titus's near-suicide after finding out that his wife cheated on him with two guys, Titus's wife claiming that Titus abused her and the kids during their divorce trial, and Titus meeting a newer, younger girlfriend with a loving, functional family (which confused him intensely).
  • Neverlution (2011): Thematically similar to "5th Annual," Titus now talks about how badly America's ethics, morals, and common sense has slipped in the last decade (specifically when George W. Bush was elected in 2000). Topics and stories include how America is too complacent to have another revolution, Barack Obama being elected in 2008, how badly America's parenting has gotten in 10 years (specifically when meeting a rude, fat kid at the DMV whose father had no idea how to discipline him), America's dependency on perscription medication and technology, a revelation he had about his father at a self-help seminar, and the idea of a "Late Term Abortion" law [5].

Tropes present in Titus's work:

  • Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: Subverted. Christopher jokes about the physical and mental abuse he had to take from his past girlfriends (and even his ex-wife), but the trauma nearly drove him to suicide and denouncing God.
  • The Alcoholic: Both of his parents (their divorce settlement included payment of their bar tab), but his dad especially (according to "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding," there are no pictures of Ken without a beer in his hand, from family pictures to pictures of him at parent-teacher meetings).
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: His mother showed up to his high school graduation in a pair of white thigh-high vinyl go-go boots and an army jacket -- without pants or underwear. "So either something was wrong with her, or she was commander of the Stripper Batallion."
  • Amicably Divorced: Averted. He is not on good terms with his ex-wife [6], and he has doubts that such a thing is really possible. In Neverlution, he reveals that his divorce took five years to finalize and his ex-wife walked away with $2 million dollars in alimony (while Titus has custody of the kids).
  • Angst? What Angst?: Was initially very apathetic about his mom's suicide (though he and his dad were relieved that she didn't take anyone with her) and was annoyed when people urged him to feel sad that his mother was dead -- until he had a mental breakdown on an airplane after smelling a turkey dinner. At the time this happened, a lot of people were on edge because of the Unabomber and what happened to the Oklahoma City building (and Titus added that, nowadays because of the 9/11 attacks, having a mental breakdown on a plane is the worst thing you can do. The episode of his sitcom that featured this incident illustrated that).
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking and Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: One of the staples of his routine.
    • "We had everything in my family! Perscription drug abuse. Mental illness. One of my uncles was a Mormon."
    • "From the Womb... to Los Angeles, The City of Drive-bys, Riots, Fires, Floods, Earthquakes, and Producers."
  • Ax Crazy: The women in Titus's life:
    • His mother shot one of her abusive husbands after he beat her up for not having dinner done.
    • One of the women in the "briar patch of psycho bitches" he dated stabbed him and tried to convince others that it was his fault that she was forced to stab him.
    • His ex-wife "Kate" went after him with a knife during the years when their marriage was falling apart.
  • Badass: Read this man's life story and be amazed that he hasn't committed suicide, despite many hints he was tempted, or went off the deep end and became a crazed killer. Also his father survived four heart attacks (before dying from the fifth one), and five divorces, with all of his wives cleaning him out every time.
  • Black Comedy: So very much. As well as Dead Baby Comedy.
    • (When his audience isn't sure how to react to Titus's joke about how he was the one who hung his mom's psychiatric therapy art on the refrigerator): "You'd better lighten the fuck up. We're going a lot deeper than that tonight."
    • When talking about all the things that the Time Square Car Bomb terrorist did wrong: "I've been doing this for 25 years and I have NEVER been that funny!" Titus also described it as a "Jim Carrey movie" due to how ridiculous and full of Epic Fail it was.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • "Be proud you're screwed up! But don't get too proud, like I am. I bet a guy in a bar that I was more screwed up than him...and he raped me. So I tipped him! I'm very competitive."
    • In Neverlution, Titus tells the audience that when he was kid, the people in his neighborhood believed in the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child," as seen when a man in the neighborhood caught Titus (who was a kid at the time) setting cats on fire. As the man is dragging Titus home to his dad, Titus begs the man to lock him up in the man's basement and rape him rather than take him home to incur the wrath of his Jerkass father.
  • Break the Cutie: Christopher's background is made of this.
  • Click Hello / Right Behind Me: Joked about how his father once pulled this on him, with the sound of a beer can opening.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: In his podcast he discussed this trope, saying how he doesn't like filling up his language with cuss words because it demeans any message he is trying to give, and he hates people who think swearing excessively makes them mature and intelligent. But this came after discussing the Josh Powell incident (the finale of the Susan Powell event) and Titus was so pissed off and swearing his friends of the podcast were making sure he was okay. Given Christopher's own experience with custody hearings both as a kid and with his own kids, it's understandable that would be a Berserk Button.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: His shows run on this.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: In "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding," Titus tells the story of how he survived falling in a bonfire and was taken to an emergency "shack" where the doctor put him on painkillers (while still drunk). He describes seeing a world where everyone was a lizard, a "Stanley Kubrick/Charlie Brown cartoon" where everyone was spinning and spoke in that muffled trumpet noise that the adults on the Charlie Brown cartoons used as voices, and then sees the doctor who yells at him as Jesus...
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Titus's mom committed suicide after spending a year in court-ordered psychiatric therapy and realizing that her mental illness was the reason why her life was falling apart. Fortunately, Juanita didn't take anyone with her when she decided to end it all.
    • His sister, Shannon, killed herself and "Neverlution" explained it was because her on-again, off-again boyfriend broke up with her permanently.
    • Titus himself was nearly driven to suicide when he found out that his ex-wife was cheating on him with two men (one of which was a 60-year-old man who was richer than he was), but he decided not to give Erin the satisfaction and instead took her to court so he can divorce her.
    • Christopher himself felt suicidal from the age of ten to around 28 years old because he felt his father hated him for ruining his life, being a single father.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: When the funeral director suggested a "rental casket" because Christopher's father wanted to be buried in a cardboard box (see The Fun in Funeral below), his brother, Dave, asked, "Who brought it back?". Christopher pointed out that it was a genius question.
  • Dysfunctional Family: HOLY SHIT. Besides the jerkass, functioning alcoholic dad and the Ax Crazy, mentally-ill, Driven to Suicide mom, Titus also had a brother who smoked weed (Dave), a sister who lived with Titus's mentally-ill mom (who was there when Juanita shot her abusive second husband on Thanksgiving), and eventually killed herself as well, had a grandmother on his mom's side who tried to seduce Ken two weeks after her daughter (Juanita) married him, a distant relative who murdered six people during the 1920s, several family members who were addicted to perscription medication, an uncle who killed two people at his surprise birthday party (this was featured on the sitcom when Titus talks about massacres that started off with "Surprise!"), and another uncle who was a Mormon.
    • In "Norman Rockwell" he said that having a screwed-up family helped him deal with how messed up Real Life could be, even boasting of how proud he is to be dysfunctional. But being in a dysfunctional family (and having horribly dysfunctional in-laws [7]) skewed his idea of what was normal and acceptable family behavior and what wasn't (such as getting in a fistfight with his dad on the front lawn and having the cops appear at every family gathering). He later mused that it probably wasn't a healthy mindset to have.
  • Functional Addict: Titus's dad. Despite spending most of his time drinking, smoking, partying, chasing skirts, and getting married and divorced several times, he never missed payments on the house or car, didn't deprive his kids of necessities or luxuries (and sometimes had to deprive himself of necessities and luxuries just so they can be happy), and always went to work.
  • The Fun in Funeral: His father's funeral. He wanted to be buried in a cardboard box, invited everyone he pissed off in life to pee on him (including his own son) while Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" played. They also charged a cover (but ladies got in free). A friend of his father's said "it was either the best or the worst funeral ever".
    • Then there was what happened after his dad got cremated. Ken's last wish involved his ashes put in a douche bottle and "run me through one more time." Christopher tried to go through with it, but ultimately decided to take his brother, Dave, and sister, Shannon to spread the ashes all over several Victoria's Secret dressing rooms and all over the gambling floor of a Caesar's Palace in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
  • Gallows Humor: The driving force behind his stand-up routines is to joke about his crazy, often heartbreaking, life. He explains it as such in the final moments of "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding" that maybe things would have been better for his Mom if she joked about her messed-up life instead of letting it consume her (though, there was also the chance that Juanita still would have gone berserk by shooting everyone up with a high-caliber weapon. According to Titus, she was "Woo, out there!")
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Well yeah!
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: "What a dumb ass! Here's a tip for ya, guys - if you're gonna beat [your wife], don't teach her how to fire the weapon!"
  • Hypocritical Humor: Titus' father, Ken, frequently gave him the "Drunk Driving Lecture" (occasionally when not needed. "Probably because I fell into a bonfire."), despite the fact that Ken always drank beer in his car sometimes on tap.
    • Then Titus remarks that maybe it wasn't Ken being hypocritical. Maybe it was helpful tips from the master.
    • In "Love Is Evol," Titus mentioned that his father stayed with his sixth and final wife because he "...didn't want people thinking he couldn't commit."
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Titus' reaction to his mother's death.

 Titus: Now I'm lying on the floor in a fetal position and I'm crying. And I don't mean "crying", I mean "snot-coming-out-of-my-nose, booger-bubbles bursting all over the place..."

  • Insane Troll Logic: An old girlfriend managed to convince him that it was his fault she stabbed him. And it worked! He explained it rather sensibly that dealing with crazy people will skew your own sense of logic, "Crazy makes you crazy."
  • Love Makes You Crazy: The primary subject of his special "Love is Evol". As he said, "Crazy makes you crazy."
  • Mathematician's Answer: In an interview about Neverlution:

 Interviewer: What's more screwed-up: America or your family?

Titus: Yes.

  • Man On Fire: Almost died when he got drunk and fell into a bonfire. Had Titus not screamed and his idiot friends not rescued him in time, he would have been dead from the smoke inhalation collapsing his lungs.
  • Mood Whiplash: His routines are about his life and often include serious, heartbreaking moments. Some examples are his dad telling him about his mother's suicide, the death of his father, his daughter being born just a few days before the 9/11 attacks, his attempted suicide after finding out his wife was cheating on him, and his angry outburst that God doesn't exist after someone tells him it was "God's Will".
  • Moral Event Horizon: He started to realize his marriage was falling apart when his wife said "I wish you would kill yourself like your mom and your sister did." He called it a "switch" moment when he realized that they probably wouldn't be able to work things out.
  • Not Making This Up Disclaimer: He reinforces in many interviews that while some jokes are not verbatim what was said (His father died before his show was canceled, so Papa Titus wouldn't have had a chance to make fun of Christopher for it) the events in Broad Strokes actually happened to him.
  • Off the Rails: Some guy in the audience tried to heckle him in the Neverlution recording, where Christopher easily turned it around because he "does this for a living."
  • Overprotective Dad: He has fears about this regarding his new girlfriend's family, since her dad is a former Marine pilot and her siblings are in various high-end government organizations like the FBI and CIA. "If I piss this family off, you're going to hear about it on the news."
  • Precision F-Strike: He is very particular about his language, and in different venues you can see him trying to figure if a swear word is funnier than a less vulgar word. He isn't afraid of swearing, but you almost never hear a Cluster F-Bomb.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: At least 75% of his material is things that happened directly to him, and many of the bits from his TV show not actually in his specials also actually happened to him (such as getting a call that his dad was dead because he hadn't left his room in days, or buying a back-alley VCR and ending up with a box of bricks).
  • Refuge in Audacity: Everything about Titus's messed-up family, but definitely the story of how his father got custody of him. Ken was refused custody of Christopher for being an unfit father, while Juanita used the child support money on alcohol and sent Christopher to Juanita's parents in Michigan. Ken hatches a plot to kidnap his son -- and inadvertently tells his plot to a man on an airplane who works as a district attorney. Rather than arrest him, the district attorney (after a few drinks with Ken) gives Ken some legal tips on how to convince the judge to let Christopher live with him again. Only in Christopher Titus's highly-outrageous world would this be considered a believable story.
    • In each special he has to remind his audience that things are likely to get more outrageous. In "Love is Evol" he called jealousy the "Auschwitz of Emotions" (Relationship Death Camp) and only smiled and nodded when people realized that he just went there.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Him falling into a bonfire.
  • Running Gag: He makes each special with at least one or two:
    • Norman Rockwell- Falling into the bonfire
    • 5th Annual- "I'm whitey, and I apologize"
    • Love is Evol- Keeping eye contact on him so that couples in the audience aren't looking at each other
    • Neverlution- Referring to terrorists and then correct himself with "Sorry, Fox News/CNN."
  • Self Deprecating Humor: "I actually knew my wife in high school, but she was in the 'Hot looking Babes" group and I was in the 'Outcast Losers Who Fell into a Bonfire' group. ...Very exclusive group."
    • In the "Love is Evol" show, his Inner Retard constantly berates him that he'll never be successful and he'll never find love now that "Kate" has ruined him.
    • In "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding", Titus tells the story of how he and his first girlfriend (the 5'1, 100 lb. Jewish girl who suffered from extreme Mood Whiplash [described by Titus as going from "I love you" to (angry cat hissing)]) had a fight at his dad's house on Christmas Eve while watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which, according to Titus, "...earned me a White Trash Black Belt."
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: During his divorce hearings his wife claimed spouse and child abuse, which caught him completely off guard. "The only thing that has made me want to be a wife beater... is being called one!"
  • Sit Comic: His original show (Titus, which borrowed from Norman Rockwell is Bleeding) was probably one of the most faithful stage-to-TV translations ever, and a possible Spiritual Successor show will be adapted from "Love is Evol" and possibly "Neverlution."
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: His routines work on a different level than most comedians, where he uses humor to prevent himself from getting a Victim Complex and to not look at your life as something outside of your control. He ends each routine with a moral based on what his dad taught him his entire life, "Quit being a wussy" and never quit fighting for your right to be happy.
  • Take That: Has a bit in Neverlution on how Lady Gaga exemplifies America's attitude of accepting "mediocrity as excellence.

 "You are not an artist just because you wear a live chimpanzee as a bra!"

  • Tsundere: Thoroughly deconstructed, he mentioned the psychological torture he took from a girlfriend who had no warning signs (other than the room smelling of ozone whenver she was about to go ballistic) when she would go from affectionate to physically abusive and blaming it on a sugar imbalance.
    • Titus describing America on "The 5th Annual End of the World Tour," stating that America will kick another country's ass, then send them food.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Christopher describes his own relationships like this with both his ex-wife and his new girlfriend ("I actually knew my wife in high school, but she was in the 'Hot Looking Babes' group and I was in the 'Outcast Losers Who Fell into a Bonfire' group."). Although how well this translates into Hollywood standards is up for debate, Cynthia Watros (his co-star on Titus) has remarked she found him to be quite handsome. After all, he is 6'2, in decent shape and has some fairly square features.
  • Wimp Fight: On his attempt to be a man and fight his dad, "By the way, great way to fight. Arms down... face presented."
  • World of Cardboard Speech: Every routine has one, but the one in "Neverlution" really changed his life. When younger Chris thought his father hated him (and often thought about killing himself because of it) because Ken was saddled with being a single father. At 28, Titus went to a self-help seminar and sobbed how his father hated him because he spent his entire life savings on trying to get custody of Titus back from his mentally-ill mom and her equally crazy relatives. Those at the seminar were stunned and told Titus that his father must have loved him because he sacrificed his entire life savings to get his son and stayed with him his entire childhood (something that seems to rarely -- if ever -- happen these days). It was quite a revelation because Titus never did get along with his father, but the last five years of Ken's life they were best friends.

Notes

  1. married six times, divorced five times, and slept around near-constantly
  2. Titus also had a blood-related sister named Shannon and a few step-siblings thanks to Ken's multiple marriages
  3. Juanita was diagnosed with manic-depressive schizophrenia
  4. Juanita's second husband was shot to death in 1986 after he beat her up on Thanksgiving for not having dinner done when he got home from work. The reason Juanita shot him, according to Christopher Titus: "...she didn't want him to do that again." Juanita was acquitted all charges and won the guy's life insurance policy
  5. As in, "up to the first 22 years" late term
  6. Who lied in court saying that Christopher abused her and the kids just so she could sidestep the California "no-fault" divorce laws, which only allows for non-equal splitting of assets if someone claims domestic abuse. It was later found to be false.
  7. "Kate"'s parents were miserable, abusive alcoholics, her brother was a petty thug, and her sister was a sexually promiscuous drug addict. They all lived under one house because they were not mentally or socially ready to live out on their own
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