For many stand-up comics, the dream is to land a network sitcom deal.
So what happens after that?
That’s the question Christopher Titus faced when he learned his Fox series, Titus, was being axed in 2002 after three seasons. The end came shortly after he “smarted off to the network president and the network president was not having it.”
What happened to Titus next was, he said, rather “hellish.”
“I got the TV show … and then it was over. After that I sold a couple other shows, did [the short-lived ABC drama] Big Shots in ’07, and got a horrible divorce.
“It’s some hellish bucket list: The good side is getting your TV show — yay! — and then the hellish side is losing something and then a divorce and then losing all your money. That’s pretty much how it works.”
His simple advice to others now achieving their dreams? Enjoy the ride while it lasts.
“Whenever my friends get something successful now, my first thing I tell them is notice it. Notice how fun this is and don’t get wrapped up in it,” Titus said. “Do your job but then stop and look around because I didn’t. I never stopped to enjoy what was going on.”
Titus is a comic haunted by the darkness that has often surrounded his life: an alcoholic father with multiple divorces and failed relationships, and a mother who killed her abusive husband, battled depression and was hospitalized, and eventually committed suicide in 1994. Titus’ younger sister committed suicide a decade later. And he channels his tragedy and rage in funny and confessional stand-up material, including his new 21-and-older show called The Angry Pursuit of Happiness, which he’s performing today through Sunday at the Toledo Funny Bone, 6140 Levis Commons Blvd. in Perrysburg. Showtimes are 8 and 10:30 tonight, 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $28 and $33 and available at funnybonecentral.com or by calling 419-931-3474.
Truthfully, the 49-year-old Titus doesn’t have much to be angry about at this point in his life. In his two-decade career as a stand-up comic, he has released five comedy albums and starred in five hour-long Comedy Central specials, including Voice in My Head, which aired in October. His sitcom, while prematurely canceled, did earn him a 2001 nomination by the Writers Guild Association.
Meanwhile, he’s still working on new film and TV projects, including a potential series about physically challenged police detectives that’s in the crowd-sourcing phase. Oh, and in August he married the woman of his dreams, Rachel Bradley, who also happens to be a stand-up comic.
“She’s 5’11’’, a Diesel jeans model, she has two college degrees and is way smarter than me, and she’s from this family that’s incredible,” he said. “And I troll for White Trash [because] my whole life that’s the only thing I’ve known. That I even hooked this woman is crazy.”
Still, even with the positivity of wedded bliss in his life, Titus is a man conditioned by circumstances to wait for the next dark cloud to appear.
“I’m not waiting, I’m preparing,” he is quick to correct. “I’m like a life-prepper. I’m not worried about Armageddon, I just have these little life Armageddons that happen. And I’m trying not to.
“I’m always waiting for the nightmare and I have to stop that. If you wait for the nightmare, you’ll find the nightmare in everything. That’s what the new show is kind of about. The nightmare is coming anyway [so] why waste all that time stressing about the nightmare that’s not there yet? Wait till it gets here. Then you’ll have plenty of time to stress.”
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.