When I first spoke with Christopher Titus, he was coming through a turning point in his career. It was around 1997 or ’98, and he was playing the Funny Bone Comedy Club in Buffalo, NY, where I was writing for The Buffalo News. Titus had been staging a show called Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding at theaters in Los Angeles, and he was trying to make it work in comedy clubs. It impressed me not just because it was funny, but because he wasn’t afraid to talk about a lot of heavy topics, to let the serious points be serious and then bring people back up with a punch.
In that show, Titus talked about his mother’s suicide and his father’s often rough treatment of his kids and alcoholism – Titus was cured of that by falling into a bonfire and having his friends abandon him. The stories sometimes painted a bleak picture of his parents, but he also preserved their dignity. He credits his mother with helping create him as a comedian, and made a point of mentioning that he never went hungry, even though his father sometimes did to feed to family.
That show became a model for what Titus has been doing ever since, writing thematic, 90-minute specials with the feel of a one-man show and the punch of a club act. His new one, Amerigeddon, is about bringing America together in the age of Trump, at a time when the public discourse is about separation.
I’ve only spoken with Titus once since Buffalo, for the Boston Globe in 2010 when he was working on his Neverlution show. I was happy to see he was popping into town for a one-night-only gig at Laugh Boston on a Wednesday night, and was able to sit down with him before his soundcheck to talk about Amerigeddon, politics, his new movie Special Unit, and a lot more.
At the end of the conversation, keep listening for “When the War Began,” a track from Matt York’s new album, Between the Bars. York is a talented songwriter and performer, and he’s also next week’s guest on the Department of Tangents Podcast.
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