In 10 Words or Less
More backstory from the legendarily screwed-up comic
Loves: Stand-up Comedy
Likes: Christopher Titus, Monologues
Dislikes: Angry comics
Hates: Titus (the series)
Christopher Titus isn't so much a comic, as he is a monologist. When he takes the stage, you're not going to hear a bunch of "You know what I hate..." or "Isn't it funny when..." bits. Instead, he tells stories, about his own life, bringing his own perspective to the audience, and making them laugh with how ridiculous reality can be. Of course, his reality isn't quite the usual reality, as most people have family who at least pretend to care about them (or who have far less interaction with law enforcement.)
On a stage decorated like the inside of a house with a skulls and hearts motif, Titus comfortably wanders as he tells his tales with a bubbly, almost disbelieving tone that betrays how darkly funny the things he says are. As you can tell from the title, "Love is Evol," this special is about the dark side of romance, which Titus distills through his personal experience, starting with his divorce in 2006. It's a hell of story, involving apparent mental illness, plastic surgery and at least one knife attack. The thing that really stands out about his tales is the near complete lack of any element of sweetness. Maybe the lack of that humanizing ingrediant acts as a buffer so the audience can maintain a complete separation from the material and laugh from a distance.
When he uses a on-stage kitchen table to replicate the discussion with his father where the story behind his conception was revealed, you realize just how twisted and talented Titus is. The story is all over the road, alternating between hilarious and horrifying, but the most impressive part is how it shows just how good Titus is at stage performance, switching back and forth from dad to son. If he couldn't sell these stories so well, there's no way they would be so enjoyable. When he goes into his bit about having an "inner retard," and portrays it onstage, or shows how he wanted his wife to leave divorce court, I defy you not to at least smile. He's performing, not just telling jokes.
Surprisingly, considering how dark Titus' material is, the remainder of his show is actually much lighter, talking about his first positive relationship to some one from a healthy family. The bit is far more mainstream than his usual stuff, talking about dealing with his girlfriend's father and suffering through a misadventure in underwear, but it's still as funny, because it's still the same guy, just a different part of him. Despite railing against love and relationships for most of the night, he goes after them again. If this learned man, who has taught us so much, is willing to give it another shot, it's either not so bad, or he needs more material, and either way, it's more than OK to laugh at it all.
This DVD version of the special runs 85 minutes, but since the special doesn't air on Comedy Central until February 14th, it's not clear which segments make up the additional material. When you consider most hour shows on TV run about 44 minutes contentwise, there's over 40 minutes here that won't be shown on TV, which seems pretty implausible, as I can't imagine how you could cut that much quality material from this show.
A one-disc release, the DVD is packed in a standard keepcase, and features a static anamorphic widescreen menu with options to watch the show, adjust languages or check out the extras (surprisingly, a chapter select menu is missing.) Audio options include English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks, while there are no subtitles, only closed captioning.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer on this special looks excellent, with appropriate color, a crisp, clean image and a healthy amount of fine detail, especially in Titus' expressive face. There are no problems with dirt or damage, and no obvious issues with compression artifacts. `
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is a bit more than the show really needs, offering up Titus' voice in nice, clean quality, separating him from the audience to replicate the experience of being in a theater. There's not much more than that to the sound.
There are a few bits of bonus material to enjoy on this DVD, starting with a two-minute look at the photo shoot for the album (and eventually DVD) cover, which sees Titus mess around with a kid playing Cupid, earning a few laughs. It's joined by the 5:38 "The Fans Speak," which lets the people out to see Titus share their own tales of heartbreak, which are amusing in some cases, and just pathetic in others.
The extras wrap with the nearly 14-minute "Countdown to V-Day," a series of promos with Titus, as he provides advice to guys for each of the 14 days leading up to Valentine's Day. This is classic Titus, as you can imagine he's not too positive about what's ahead for the guys he's talking to, and his advice isn't the greatest.
The Bottom Line
The special is a fine example of what Titus does well, pulling from his twisted childhood and messed-up adult relationships to create a funny-because-it's-not-you set that isn't exactly stand-up, but if you enjoy a well-told story of grief and suffering, it can make you laugh just the same. The DVD is presented in fine quality, both aurally and visually, and the select few extras are appreciated. If you enjoy a one-man show or a good monologue, definitely give this disc a spin, but if you need your punchlines rapid and frequent, this may not do it for you.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.