Christopher Titus: Norman Rockwell is Bleeding

By | July 22, 2008 at 1:20 pm | No comments | Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

Christopher Titus: Norman Rockwell is BleedingA hero of American dysfunction, comedian Christopher Titus has given broken families and their broken dreams an artistic voice in a mass appeal way for nearly a decade.

To those not completely familiar with his rather colorful upbringing, here’s the beginning: Titus was raised in California by a gruff, hard-drinking (but by most accounts, well-meaning) father and a bipolar/schizophrenic mother – with a 185 IQ – who killed one of her husbands in self-defense.

In 2000, the comic premiered his Fox sitcom, Titus, based around his life but more specifically around the stand-up material in Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding, the one-man show Titus had brought to Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival that same year; the show would later be recorded and aired on Showtime and then on Comedy Central.

Four years after its original televised broadcast, the latter cable giant has just released a two-disc set of the 90-minute performance, which proves not to be a study in topical humor – the fact that the material is at least 10 years old doesn’t matter – but a study in what (besides a series of laugh-inducing bits) stand-up comedy can be. That is, timeless reflections on family foibles, introspection of one’s own ill-conceived life choices and pain. Lots of pain.

That Titus is able to seamlessly bare publicly what most people would discuss only in therapy — some topics include his years-long abusive relationship with a woman who would later become his wife, his mother being institutionalized, his dad being arrested on live television for drunken-driving — and still generate a constant stream of sturdy laughs from a crowd that, as a whole, couldn’t possibly relate to the same degree of familial madness, is, in part, a tribute to the comedian’s deft understanding of the human psyche.

It’s also a nod to Titus’ theatrical treatment of themes that in the hands of an ill-skilled comic would do little more than send the crowd home early with chills and wondering why, in God’s name, they just hadn’t instead made it a Blockbuster night. The smarter folks in the crowd -– or perhaps the more insane -– know better, however, to ride Titus’ crazy train to the end.

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.