by Ryan Meehan
On December 10th, Comedy Central Records will release Christopher Titus’ “Voice in my Head”, the two-disc CD version of the comedian’s special that aired October 8th.
Titus is a favorite of mine because I was hooked after seeing the original cut of “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding”. Anyone who is a fan of comedy knows that’s a really dark record that you have to be willing to open yourself up to in order to like it. I also really dug “The Fifth Annual End of the World Tour” because it referenced 9/11 in the same way that he mentioned his mother’s suicide in “Rockwell” as a pivotal point in each program.
I was also a really big fan of his short lived television show which was axed by FOX. We’ll talk about that more here in a minute, but let’s briefly discuss the subject material that you can expect to find on this double album.
The theme of this CD is about life and the mistakes we make. It begins with a track of Titus talking like a preacher over some organ music entitled “Welcome to the Church of The Epic Fail”. I thought this was a really cool idea to start off with, and allowed him to set the mood for the record. He sets a great tone for the album, and then goes into a story about how he was taught…er…forced to learn how to waterski by his father. Since most of “Rockwell” was based on his relationship with his father, I have to admit I was a little bit worried that this disc would be patricentric but he quickly shifted gears and I was relieved. It’s not that I don’t enjoy his stories about his father, it’s just that I wanted more than that out of this CD. So I was very pleased to find out that the waterskiing story was pretty much the last thing on the set that was about his dad.
The next bit is about a very controversial word that we are all familiar with. Although not as sensitivity inducing as some others that have come up in the news cycle, it’s still a topic of debate. I’m talking about the “R-word” that is sometimes used when in reference to individuals who are slower. While I completely understand why this is such a sensitive topic and under most circumstances should not be used, Titus describes it in a manner that refers to the slow side of one’s self that DOES have the capability to know better but instead ignores that power. This theme continue to pop-up on the CD and act as a second voice for the many failures in Chris’ life that he describes in this special.
After a short story about his short lived gig as Darth Vader in his high school work co-op program, Titus moves on to some material about his experiences touring the South during the early portion of his career. I’m not going to go into detail because these are some great stories here, but let’s just say if you ever travel to that part of the country you’re going to have to learn that it’s a hop skip and a jump away from a very dark part of America’s history. The first disc ends with a story about learning martial arts and him crashing a very expensive car in an accident that could have ended with the worst possible consequences.
The second disc only featured three tracks, and when I put it in my computer I saw that the third one was almost thirty minutes long. So I prepared myself for a very extensive story, but knew that it wouldn’t let me down. The first cut is about a stint Titus did for the USO shows where he got tackled by a military dog named Tako. The second is a very telling story that answers the aforementioned the expensive sentence question, and more importantly (to me anyway) what happened to one of the best shows on television and why it didn’t last on the air longer.
The third track on the record is called “Bruce Who?” and is about Bruce Springsteen. This is one of the longer comedy bits you’ll ever hear, but if you ever need to drive somewhere that takes exactly thirty minutes this will make it feel like the shortest drive of your life. I’ll just leave it at that, because it’s really that good.
The album features some of Christopher’s awesome one-liners, which he rolls over with deadpan delivery. The best on that I heard had to have been:
“I love going to Phoenix in the summer because it’s hot – super hot. And if you’re depressed you can just go to a park, sit down, and watch little kids burst into flames”
And it only gets better and better. At this risk of sounding like a homer, there are so many things that are done right on these discs it’s hard to not love them. One of the coolest thing he does is he mentions early on in the first track that he said one sentence that cost him 30 million dollars. Keeping you wondering what that sentence was, he waits until the next to last track on the second disc to share it with the listener.
The callbacks are very much on point. He’s got several of them and they’re interwoven perfectly throughout the disc. The main one is the “voice inside of his head” that is described as each individual’s “inner R-word” that says stupid things we all think. Think of it as instead of a devil on your shoulder with a pitchfork, you’ve got a dude in overalls with a propeller hat on with the dopiest smile you could ever imagine that’s constantly spewing nonsense. But here again, he doesn’t just rely on that one and there are so many different things going on at once it’s hard not to love everything that’s going on.
Another thing that I noticed as someone who prides themselves on being a huge comedy fan is that when Titus encounters someone who talks during his set, he doesn’t stop and grant them the exposure of the heckler. In fact, he doesn’t even flinch. He just keeps going and doesn’t acknowledge them at all. This is perhaps the best way to handle a heckler, because in theory it prevents the heckler from existing. It doesn’t grant them a single moment of history, and no matter how loud they yell – in the end the comic has a microphone and they fucking don’t. Of all the lessons on this CD, this one is the most important no matter what you do for a living because it teaches you to ignore the shitheads of mass destruction that threaten your mental freedom every day you live to fight another one.
Overall Score: 9.4/10.0
It sounds like I am getting all worked up about this disc because I’m a fan, but this is one of the interviews I’ve always wanted to get but haven’t had the chance to. So on the off chance that he is reading this, Chris – I’d love to have you for 7 questions. It would give me an opportunity to talk to somebody I look up to, just in the same way that you got meet a guy you always looked up to in the last track of this record.
For the rest of you, this disc comes highly recommended. It’s a look inside one of the better theater comedians working today, and easily one of the best overall storytellers of our generation.
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