Comedy is always at its best when it makes people think while making them laugh, being honest and straight to the point in a humorous manner. Comedian Christopher Titus has been doing this for three decades now and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to be stopping any time soon. He has a new performance called “Amerigeddon” which sheds light on the divide affecting the United States while also cracking a few jokes to unite us all. Titus will be at the Comedy Connection in East Providence on Jan 25 for a night that no comedy fan should miss.
We talked about his thoughts on the current political landscape, the never-ending array of bets you can take on President Trump’s fate in 2018, his new movie Special Unit and what the new year has in store.
Rob Duguay (Motif): Your new stand-up routine, titled “Amerigeddon,” is you trying to solve through comedy the divide our country is currently experiencing. Other than the current president, do you think the divide is the result of lack of communication between people and the rise of hasty generalizations as a reaction to when two people don’t see eye-to-eye on things? Or do you think it’s something else?
Christopher Titus: I just think it’s a disease. I think every society eventually finds it. The Middle East has been in turmoil for years and anybody in this country who looks at that and says “They’re the exact same people, why are they fighting?” doesn’t realize that we’re doing the exact same thing. Everybody believes something different about someone who doesn’t agree with them politically. Some people think that every redneck is a four-wheel truck-drivin’ guy who is sleeping with his sister and some people think that every liberal is eating kale salad out of the butt of his boyfriend.
That’s what people think and we develop these judgments. On top of that, if your side loses then people have their backup now because of social media. We’re not even talking to each other anymore. It’s so easy to scream at someone on-line now, and it’s something that would get your butt kicked in a parking lot if you said it to their face. We’ve all gotten a lot braver because we have this filter through the firewall of the internet where we can do what we want, how we want, and everybody is feeling tough. The reality is that nobody is.
I think we need to start talking again. I wanted to bring the country together, I originally started doing it just rippin’ on [Donald] Trump but that was too easy. On a daily basis there’s always something he’s doing. How do you screw up 400 times in 325 days? It’s insane. The only people happy are Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen.
RD: You definitely make some great points. When you were writing the material for this, did you get any advice from any other political comedians? A lot of people know your material that’s based on growing up in a dysfunctional family and life experiences rather than politics.
CT: If you look at my stuff, I do a personal bit and I do kind of a social one. During the first “End of the World Tour” I did after 9/11, I talked about some political stuff and how our country was falling apart. My joke “Arm The Children” confronts the gun problem in our country. I’ve always kind of gone after it and this particular set of material just had to happen. I didn’t want to write this show, I had to write this show.
It was on TV every day and we’re in the weirdest place we’ve ever been in. The one thing I saw was that we’re ripping each other apart and nobody knows each other so I just had to write it but I didn’t talk to other comics. Some guys who are really good have had to apologize for things that they’ve said. The problem with that is when a comic apologizes then they lose all credibility. You can’t apologize and you just have to keep moving forward.
I’m pretty good at this, I’ve been doing this for 30-something years. If I see something then I need to write a joke about it, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to hit it. It usually works 90% of the time so I don’t worry about it. I didn’t want to be interviewing another comic because comedy doesn’t work like that, you don’t sit down and say “Oh I guess I’ll do a political show this time.” I was just watching the clown show thinking about how comical it all is and that I have to write about this.
RD: In an interview with the Chicago Tribune in April, you said that Trump would be out of office by August. That didn’t happen and he’s still in office. In fact, there’s a book that just came out about his first year in office called Fire and Fury that has really pissed him off. With it being a new year, do you think he’ll last as President through 2018 or will he get impeached?
CT: Honestly, with this guy you could take odds on a bunch of different things. When it comes to his health, he’s obese so his heart could lock up at any second over a taco bowl. His mental state is kind of deteriorating so he could have a stroke. Mueller and the Russia investigation is still going on. The thing about Mueller is that he’s kind of like a demon, he’s just so quiet and slowly creeping in, and that could all come to light tomorrow.
If he [Trump] goes crazy and wants to set off a nuke then the CIA could take him out. I don’t even know where to put the money on this guy, there are so many options. I think this investigation is going to rattle the country. I’m more concerned about that than anything. Are you concerned that our country has a chance of being destroyed because of this guy?
RD: Yeah, I find it to be very frightening. Especially when he tweets about North Korea and it seems like a big dick measuring contest. That’s really scary because you’re dealing with a guy who is viewed as a god in North Korea. Legitimately North Koreans believe this about Kim Jong-un and Trump wants to mess with this guy? Trump can only dream of being as mentally unhinged as Kim Jong-un and there’s no way he should mess with a guy who has been spending months testing missiles.
CT: Any man who talks about how big his button is has a very tiny button. It’s funny that you say “Trump can only dream of being as mentally unhinged as Kim Jong-un.” The crazy thing about all of this is that Trump is so insane that he pushed Kim Jong-un to start talking to South Korea, how nuts is that?
RD: That’s absolutely crazy.
CT: Even the craziest guy in the world is like “You know what? This guy is scaring me, I think I’m going to start some diplomacy.” (laughs)
RD: Everything seems to be being turned upside-down. Along with the new comedy act, you also have a new movie out called Special Unit. From the trailer it looks like a meeting of an adult version of Bad News Bears and Police Academy.
CT: I usually put it as if Mel Brooks did Lethal Weapon.
RD: That’s a pretty good analogy. You also wrote it and directed it, right?
CT: Yeah, it was something that Hollywood didn’t want to do. I’m here saying that I wanted to make these folks into cops, it’s really balls out funny, we’re not pulling any punches and I have a lot of friends who are disabled that get screwed with all the time so I wanted to do a movie where they end up being the heroes. They end up being the badasses and superheroes honestly.
RD: When you think about it, it’s also a cool message to put out to people. Since it was your first time doing something like this, how would you describe the experience?
CT: I have to be honest, it was scary. I’ve written before when I had my TV show and stuff along with writing a bunch of scripts, but the writing part wasn’t scary, I’m okay at that. The directing part scared me because I was also acting in it and I was working with guys that I respect so I didn’t want to be the guy that comes in and craps the bed. The first couple days were scary and then what happened was I ended up having almost as much fun doing this movie as I do doing stand-up. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had and it was great.
There’s some dates you have to do when you have to keep your set light. Like in a comedy club, I can seem pretty angry but I have to keep it light enough so people can laugh. It’s the same thing while on a movie set, especially during a comedy. You can’t be screaming and yelling, you have to figure out how to keep it funny. It’s a really cool balance but I had more fun doing this movie than anything, there are like over 130 five-star reviews for it now.
RD: Congratulations on that.
RD: After the show at the Comedy Connection on Jan 25, what are your plans? I know you have a run of shows, but do you have anything else in the works?
CT: There’s a series that Billy Gardell (who is also in Special Unit) and I are doing called “Devil’s Music.” It’s about rock ‘n’ roll and we’re shooting a pilot for it in February. My next show is called “Stories I Shouldn’t Tell” which will probably get my family to sue me, so I’m also working on that.
Comedy Connection, Jan 25 tickets: www-ricomedyconnection-com.seatengine.com/shows/70918
Special Unit trailer: youtube.com/watch?v=XSTdJ1UlzTM
Web site: christophertitus.com