Wednesday, Jan 23 2013 04:16 PM

Christopher Titus: Turning failure into funny

BY MATT MUNOZ Californian staff writer mmunoz@bakersfield.com

Christopher Titus openly admits to enjoying life's failures in all their glory.

From the rock-bottom depths of his comedic origins to being a magnet for injury, the actor and funnyman has developed an ingenious method to flip the script on many a misfortune to supply audiences with comedy gold.

Related Info

Christopher Titus

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Fox Theater, 2001 H St.

Admission: $25 plus service charge

Information: 324-1369 or vallitix.com

Bearing that in mind, local fans should be prepared for an epic dose of mayhem when Titus brings his latest cavalcade of calamity, titled "Epick Phail," to the Fox on Sunday.

"If you've ever been a horrible failure, if you've ever made that horrible mistake, you don't want anyone to know about. The one where you stop hanging out with 'those friends' so no one can ever tell that story about you, I'm telling all those stories," said Titus, 48, during a recent phone interview.

A freewheeling, brazen voice for the everyday American, Titus grew to prominence during his two-year stint starring in "Titus," his own weekly dark comedy sitcom.

The show, about a dysfunctional family, was critically praised for its edgy comedy style and social commentary, with ratings to match. But following numerous battles with the censors and a creative dispute between Titus and the Fox network, the show was abruptly pulled from production.

"When we did 'Titus,' we actually connected the story to the characters. It seems right now, that some of these new-age sitcoms they can do whatever they want, and break the rules anytime. Everything has gotten too wacky."

Eager to bring that self-deprecating style back to the stand-up stage, Titus says "Epick Phail's" revealing look into his personal vaults pulls no punches.

"The thing is that I didn't get better as I got notoriety, I got worse. I was Darth Vader at kid birthday parties for a while, and if you can imagine how badly that went, the first and last time we did it was the same exact day. I used to do tours through some of the worst redneck areas of the country, where you if you get off your car, you keep your car running because you wanna get out as fast as you can. I even wrecked a Viper at 130 miles an hour flying off a race track with an instructor in the car."

Titus also enjoys newfound popularity as host of his own online podcast, the Combustible Lounge at tituspodcast.com, broadcast from his home studio. Every week, fans can tune in and get the latest censorship-free rants direct from the comedian's twisted mind along with color commentary from his girlfriend and co-host, Rachel Bradley, aka Bombshell Rae.

"Adam Carolla (who also hosts his own online comedy podcast) is the one who got me into it. He said, 'Titus, get into it right now. It will connect everything you do to the people and they can hear from you on a weekly basis, and they start to love you.' The podcast gives me an outlet to just fume about different things, anger some people, which is always great because those are the people who always listen harder. It gives me a way out to vent, and I really like the audience and the format we have."

Titus said he can get away with so much on the podcast because he refuses to take outside money. Instead, he gets a steady flow of income selling branded merchandise.

"I won't take a sponsor; I don't need to. The whole thing is we get to be like pirate radio. In the beginning we used to try and hustle advertising, but after hearing these great comics do a great bit on their show, then say, 'Buy Coke,' we got really turned off. Could you imagine George Carlin and Bill Hicks doing a podcast and taking advertising money?

"Is there a cost? Yeah, but the upside is, we get people coming to shows who discovered me through the podcast. They had no idea I did stand-up."

The comedian hopes to make a return to the small screen next year with "Special Unit," a pet project written by Titus about a disabled unit of Los Angeles police detectives. Guaranteed to push the limits of good taste, the comedian thinks the public needs to lighten up.

"I didn't do it to mock anybody. About eight or nine years ago, there was a protest with all these little people and handicapped actors who said they never get any work. People kiss their butt, but never give them work. I pitched it to Comedy Central and they waited eight months to say no. They said it was too edgy, even though they do 'South Park.'"

Still in production, Titus hopes to find a home for the show, which he describes as a comedy spin on popular crime dramas.

"It's basically 'The Shield' with handicapped people. The whole premise is, due to the Fairness and Disabilities Act, the LAPD is forced to hire four handicap undercover detectives. I play this totally (expletive) cop who to keep him off the street, basically assign him these four handicapped people and I have to teach them to become cops. What ends up happening is they become this really cool unit."

Being turned down by the network was painless in comparison to the material he plans to unleash on Bakersfield on Sunday. Rattling off a round of quick preview bits, there was one he says will leave fans counting their blessings.

"I said one sentence that cost me $30 million. I'm not going to say what it was. You have to come to the show. I had 0 million dollars when I made this mistake. So, you tell me, who's the biggest loser? Bring it on."

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