DID YOU READ

Christopher Titus on comedy, being a loser, and “screaming truth” in his new anthology

032112_christophertitus

Posted by on

After plowing through a decade’s worth of comedy in the new anthology from veteran writer, actor, and comedian Christopher Titus, it’s hard not to feel pretty good about my life. Not only did my parents get along pretty well, but I don’t recall ever making a snarky comment that cost me my own television series.

For Titus, however, every bad experience — whether its cost is measured in dollars or emotional currency — is a one-man show in the making. He’s had more than enough material to mine over the years, too – and it’s all collected in his new, four-disc collection, “Get a Real Job, Numbnuts.”

Encompassing all four of his comedy specials released between 2001 and 2011, “Get a Real Job” is a mix of Titus’ unique brand of slice-of-life comedy and political commentary that chronicles a period filled with personal and professional upheaval for the comedian. From his first, critically praised one-man show, “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding,” through the rise and fall of his hit TV series “Titus,” and concluding with 2010’s “Neverlution,” the anthology is a fascinating (and funny) look at the nature of life, love, and getting by in a world that occasionally seems to be playing a joke on us.

IFC spoke with Titus about the new anthology, and what it feels like to have ten years of his life collected on four DVDs.

“You know when something bad happens in your life, and you react like, ‘Oh my god, it’s horrible!’ Well, when something horrible happens to me now, my first reaction is still, ‘Oh, crap!’ — but my second reaction is usually, ‘How do I turn this into a one-man show?'” laughed Titus.

For Titus, looking back on the decade of performances contained within the set has been an educational experience, though most of the lessons aren’t the sort you learn in a classroom.

“It’s made me know that everything is absurd,” he explained. “We make our lives so heavy, and everything that happens is heavy and it’s the end of the world . . . and with everything I’ve gone through with my family and everything else, it’s just that: absurd. I need to be able to step back from the drama, and that’s what these [shows] were for me.”

Alternating between his musings on life as seen through the lens of his own admittedly dysfunctional family history and color commentary on current events, “Get a Real Job” collects his first four one-man shows: “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding,” “The Fifth Annual End of the World Tour,” “Love is Evol,” and “Neverlution.”

“The first one kind of encompasses my whole family,” said Titus of the key personal themes and issues of the time that informed the shows. “With the next one, my daughter was born 16 days before 9/11 — so I knew that I was going to build it around that. They say ‘comedy is tragedy plus time,’ so every time a tragedy happens, all I think is, ‘Oh, I have a new show.'”

“The third one was a product of my divorce,” he continued. “That 90-minute special cost me $2.5 million, so I didn’t make a dime on that one. [Laugh] And then ‘Neverlution’ came out of getting older and looking around and realizing how fucked things are, and wondering how to fix it. The only way to fix it is to tell the truth about it. A buddy of mine says, ‘Scream the truth and everything will work out.’ So that’s my new thing: trying to figure out what the truth is.”

Among the ten years that make up the anthology are also a few years he was working on his hit show, “Titus,” a dark spin on traditional family sitcoms that he wrote, created, and starred in. His experiences on the show — and maybe more importantly, what he learned when a professional misstep got it canceled — are just some of the elements that inform the collection of comedy in “Get A Real Job.”

As Titus explains it, the end of his self-titled show was the product of two sentences — just 14 words, in fact.

When the new president of FOX suggested during a company meeting that “Titus” should follow the lead of “Dharma & Greg,” and have its lead couple (who were modeled after Titus and his ex-wife, Erin) cheat on each other, the comedian made a mistake he’ll never live down.

“The whole point of the show was that two dysfunctional, screwed up people could make a decent relationship together, and that it doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters who you are,” he said. “So when they said, ‘We want you to change the show and have Titus and Erin cheat on each other,’ this is the sentence that cost me $30 million: I looked at the president of the network and said, ‘Do you even watch the show? Let me explain to you how it works…'”

“So, yeah… I’m not just a normal loser,” he laughed. “I’m the sort of loser who succeeds really well and then drops a turd in the punch bowl.”

Still, as Titus discovered, the combination of regular one-man shows, a popular podcast, and various other projects have expanded his fanbase to include people who know nothing about his time as a sitcom television star.

“In a weird way, the podcast sometimes feels like better therapy than any comedy I’ve done,” he said of his weekly online radio show that has him teaming up with his girlfriend and a close friend to discuss various topical and personal issues. Like his TV show, the podcasts usually begin with a monologue relating to that episode’s theme.

“The world never disappoints,” he said, when asked how he keeps coming up with material for his shows, podcasts, and everything else on his plate these days. “The world will give you a nightmare to talk about. Then, by the time the nightmare of the world has been milked, something horrible has happened in my life again, and I can do the next one about it.”

“Get A Real Job, Numbnuts” is available now on DVD. You can get more information about the anthology at Titus’ official website, www.christophertitus.com, where you can also find links to his podcast and other projects.

Watch More
JaniceAndJeffrey_102_MPX-1920×1080

Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

JaniceAndJeffrey_106_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

Watch More
IFC-Die-Hard-Dads

Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

Watch More
IFC-revenge-of-the-nerds-group

Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

geowash_flat

Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet