This new stand-up comedy special covers dating, marriage, and divorce. You’ll get a good idea of the mood from the opening joke, which compares love to wanting to kill yourself and divorce to murder.
It’s difficult, for anyone who loved Christopher Titus’ previous work, to hear about how terrible his ex and his divorce (after 15 years of marriage) were, since his sitcom and his other specials talk about how that “good woman” helped him learn how there could be a different way of life from the womanizing of his father.
But the subject clearly gives him energy and drive, which any comic needs. And since it’s his story, only he can tell it… although plenty of viewers can empathize with crazy in-laws and relationships gone bad. The problem is that bitter isn’t funny. It’s a fine line between poking fun at what you hope are universal experiences and getting back at someone who hurt you in public, where they can’t respond.
When I was thinking this, though, Titus started yelling at the audience for being a bunch of whores when he talks about his ex getting new boobs for a 60-year-old guy with $20 million, which was funny.
Some of this material will be familiar to his fans, although the jokes are new. He again revisits his father’s predilection for crazy-hot women, for example. On the other hand, his previous two specials — Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding and The 5th Annual End of the World Tour — are only available on CD, not DVD, so it’s not horrible that he covers some of the same ground. And I don’t recall him talking about his dad’s National Guard service before.
Also new and memorable were the bits about mall jealousy and pointing out attractive people to your partner. KC and I had a discussion about Titus’ principle that “Crazy knows they’re crazy.” KC thinks that good crazy is self-recognizing, but bad crazy, not so much. Titus goes on to say:
“I know who I am. I am just a very thin layer of charming with some funny sprinkles wrapped around a huge creamy center of raging arrogant a-hole. I got it.”
“He’s an idiot but amazingly self-aware.” (That’s the recurring voice of his “inner retard”, an approach that may offend some.)
And he’s right, he is. Which is what makes my expectations for his humor so much higher than I have for other comics. They weren’t fully met by this special, but maybe that’s because I believe in love, and I like Valentine’s Day.
There are some very powerful sequences when he gets down to emotional truth, like talking about suicide, and I respect him for being willing to show us that, but they have to balance out the ex-wife jokes that seemed overly familiar. Advice about the woman having to stay as thin as she was when they were dating isn’t funny, let alone insightful. (Try stupid, simplistic, and overly reductionist.) That it led into jokes about dating a younger woman shouldn’t have surprised me. But then, that led into another realistic story about her family vetting him. Every time I felt like giving up, there was another one of these glimpses that made viewing worthwhile.
I advise not watching this with a significant other, because when he starts in on “things women need to know about men”, someone will be tempted to ask the other person, “do you agree with that?” and that conversation cannot end well. Then again, he’s right about capri pants.
Overall, some of it will cause you to think “TMI! TMI!” while some of it is fresh and worth watching. The second half, about the supermodel he’s now dating, is stronger than the first, or maybe it just seems better after the predictable material it follows. “I’ve found a beautiful, smart woman I’m happy with” is a message that some can relate to, although after the bitter anger of the first half, it’s hard to avoid thinking, “how long is this one going to last?” I do wonder why the slant of the marketing for this effort revolved around the negative message of “love sucks” — perhaps that’s an easier sell to the Comedy Central audience than “happy supermodel ending”.
The DVD is out on February 17, with some special features: video from the photo shoot for the cover; interviews about love with fans; and 14 short clips counting down to Valentine’s Day (that have also been running on Comedy Central’s website). Watch the special on Comedy Central tonight at 10 PM ET/PT. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the studio.)