Comedian Christopher Titus is best known for his controversial autobiographical Fox sitcom “Titus,” which co-starred Stacey Keach and Cynthia Watros. In its three-season run the series tackled sexual abuse, suicide, gay bashing, alcoholism and mental health. Funny stuff, right?
While cable wouldn’t blink at such issues these days, Titus made networks execs a little uneasy.
“At one point they threw up their hands. I always like to do something that’s a little bit off. Most people are scared of it,” says the 51-year-old comedian, who brings his stand-up to McGlohon Theater Sunday.
In February he’ll start filming another potentially controversial project – “Special Unit,” a feature that pushes issues that are rarely addressed in Hollywood.
“The LAPD has to hire four handicapped deputies,” explains Titus, whose original “Special Unit” was a failed 2006 pilot for Comedy Central. “I have a lot of friends that are disabled. Hollywood talks a lot about them, but they don’t really hire them. I wrote a movie where they get to be heroes.”
He mentions “Last Comic Standing” winner Josh Blue (who has cerebral palsy) and dwarf Brad Williams (a longtime cohort of Carlos Mencia) as two of its stars.
“We got away with so much when we did ‘Titus.’ We were always on the right side of the issue. The only episode they pulled (until the end of the series) was where my niece was molested. Titus goes to her school with a baseball bat to find out who did this,” he explains.
He’s surprised when his ideas draw fire.
“I have a tendency to always be shocked when someone’s upset,” he says. “There’s a new bit that I’ll be doing at the theater. We were watching coverage of the Ferguson riots and my daughter asks me, ‘Dad, why are black people so angry?’ When they get older they start asking for info you don’t have. They get older and ask harder questions. So I wrote about this ultra-white guy and his privileged children trying to explain thousands of years of racism.”
Titus is notoriously unafraid of tough questions. Since the show was canceled (partly due to his unwillingness to compromise his vision), he has shared warts-and-all stories about his messy divorce, crisis of faith, etc.
“I never want to make the audience mad. A lot of comics want to piss them off. I want to take them to a dark room and lead them nicely with jokes and they’re laughing the whole way and then all the sudden we’re chanting ‘Arm the Children!’ Then you hit them with the point,” he explains of his roundabout social commentary. “There’s only so many sex jokes guys can do and that’s not me.”