Christopher Titus “Voice In My Head” (review)
April 29, 2013 Michael Vazqwright Christopher Titus, Features, Reviews
Christopher Titus’ Voice in My Head begins with a quite literal sermon from the fiery “Church of Comedy: Fresno, California Parish.” Seriously. There’s church-y music (which could be from a wedding, or a funeral), and the stage background boasts a giant ‘T’ against purple stained glass that looks pretty purposefully like a Christian cross. The only thing that’s missing is Titus’ priestly habit.
The “Church of Comedy” happens to be in cahoots with the “Church of the Epic Fail,” where Titus presides. He even says, “if there was a F*ck-Up Pope, I would have a three-foot hat.” If you’re familiar with how comedy works, you might be sarcastically thinking, “Wow, what an INCREDIBLE juxtaposition! He’s preaching his own fall from grace? Oh, the irony!” and then you might twirl your mustache and harrumph. However, while Christopher Titus’ call to loser-dom is a common tactic in the comedy world (whether it be overtly religious, or otherwise), there is no denying that the life of Christopher Titus is that of an epic failure. Through the masterful use of comedic storytelling techniques, he draws upon his massive cache of awesome comedic mishaps, such as: 1) not living up to his alcoholic father’s expectations at age 5 during a ski boat outing by taking too long to learn how to water ski; 2) scaring little kids at a birthday party by dressing up as Darth Vader for a job in high school, and; 3) ruining his own comedy act in Macon, Georgia – twice – by being insensitive to news about a sick baby and then yelling at a disabled woman.
Titus’ distinction between a “Fail” and an “Epic Fail” is this: “A ‘Fail’ is when your car runs out of gas. An ‘Epic Fail’ is when your car explodes, because you used an old sock for a gas cap.” While not a personal anecdote, this is strongly illustrative of the emotional consequences of Titus’ poor, inconsiderate, and mostly impulsive decision-making. That said, Titus wouldn’t be creating his fifth comedy special out of these stories if his notion of epic failure didn’t measure against a high level of achievement. In one story, he trains as a martial artist for six years and earns his black belt… though he breaks his hand in the ceremony, and endures the pain out of fear of being disrespectful. In another story, he buys the car of his dreams – a brand new Dodge Viper racing car – only to completely wreck it while racing on a track, with passengers in tow. His most cutting (though, in a way, life-affirming) screw-up, however, comes after he gets his own popular television show Titus on the FOX television network – only to drive it into the ground by pissing off network executives over creative differences, losing the chance to earn $30 million and then losing his marriage, by implication.
Given the myriad of failures plastered onto Christopher Titus’ trophy wall, one has to ask: does he have a tragic flaw, and how does he handle it? The answer is yes, and he just lives with it. It’s called the “inner retard,” and it’s more like Multiple Personality Disorder than a tragic flaw, but it’s Titus’ comic justification for every poor decision that he makes. Though he says his father was instrumental in birthing his “inner retard,” Voice in My Head does not attempt a major exploration into Titus’ dysfunctional family history. For those who want to know, his previous specials – Love is Evol (2008), and Norman Rockwell is Bleeding (2004) – and his old FOX show manage a healthy supply of virtual Titus-brand family re-enactments.
The “inner retard” is a marvel to watch. Titus claims that he means no offense by it’s usage, telling a terrific story about his experience at a restaurant with his comedian-friend, Michael Aronin, who has cerebral palsy. Watching Titus employ the “inner-retard” impersonation, I couldn’t decide whether it more reinforced stereotypes or more just re-applied them to voices inside our own heads. His impersonation looks exactly like someone who has cerebral palsy. Morally defensible or not, though, it’s just plain funny that his “inner retard” provides guiding subtext to every one of Titus’ failures.
This special is almost purely about Titus’ own life, and is entertaining enough to bridge the conceit that comes with that kind of subject matter. Titus does betray a few judgments on the outside world, referring to Honey Boo-Boo as “the dark side” of rednecks, challenging an Air Force pilot’s educational aptitude (in a very hilarious heckler story), and calling women who go back to their domestically abusive partners “Rihanna-tard”s. If you like high-energy storytelling replete with jokes and comedic impersonations, or are otherwise a die-hard Christopher Titus fan, then this special is a must-have. It is currently downloadable directly from his website at a healthy $9 (for the nearly 2 hour running time), and part of the proceeds go to The Insight Youth Project, a charity created in part by Titus to help troubled youth from dysfunctional family homes.