If you thought Christopher Titus’ self-labeled “hard funny” material was dark before, just wait until he takes the stage at the Raue Center for the Arts.
Titus will perform his ninth and latest stand-up show, “Stories I shouldn’t tell,” at 8 p.m. Friday at the Raue, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. Tickets for the R-rated performance start at $33 at www.rauecenter.org or 815-356-9212.
Fresh off of his last show, “Amerigeddon,” in which he talked politics to sold-out crowds, Titus returns to personal reflections.
“It’s the darkest material I’ve ever done,” he said. “The whole point of the new show is we all have tragedy. We’re all going to die. That’s how the new show opens.”
Don’t worry, with Titus, there’s always some sort of punchline.
He has about 5 to 8 minutes of material on what kills us. At the top are stroke and heart attack, so “your brain and heart are trying to kill you all the time,” Titus said as he started down the fatal list.
Raised in a dysfunctional family, Titus has alternated between stories from his past and social commentary since debuting his one-man show, “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding,” in 2004 at the Hudson Theater in Los Angeles. From this performance, the dark comedy “Titus” was born on Fox and earned Titus Writer’s Guild and Emmy nominations.
He starred as Brody in ABC’s “Big Shots,” sharing the screen with Dylan McDermott, Michael Vartan and Joshua Molina, as a successful CEO who had control in business and no control in his relationships.
His production company, Combustion Films, produced his last three specials and the full-length film, “Special Unit,” released in 2017.
Titus now has six one-hour comedy specials on Comedy Central. His seventh special, “Born with a Defect,” premiered in 2017, and “Amerigeddon” was released in 2019.
“It was probably the hardest one I had to write,” he said of “Amerigeddon.” In it, he poked fun at every politician, from President Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton to Obama.
He strived to simply be honest about what’s going on in America.
“A guy who can’t spell is in charge, and there’s a lot of people that like that guy,” he said. “I don’t believe in sides, picking a side in America. There’s one side: American. That’s what that show was about.”
Even Trump supporters dropped their heads and nodded when Titus would joke about the anxiety felt every time the president goes to the microphone.
Back to the personal, Titus’ latest show makes his first, “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding,” “seem like a Jeff Dunham special,” he said.
“The hard part about writing the personal stuff is finding a way to make the darkness funny. My job is not to make [the audience] sad, scared,” he said. “I don’t mind taking them through a long tunnel as long as I let them out funny.”
It’s kind of about accepting you’re going to have tragedy in life, and getting through it with humor, he said.
Titus has had his share, having been raised by an alcoholic, abusive father and several step-mothers. His drug-addicted mother eventually committed suicide.
“So my stories aren’t normal stories,” Titus said. “On holidays, I just thought the cops were invited.”
He expects to eventually release “Stories I shouldn’t tell” as his latest comedy special. He said his audience can expect some “extra energy” and “extra funny” in the new performance.
“I love comedy like breathing,” he said. “I am so blessed. I can’t even believe I get to do this for a living. I have the best job in the world.”