Television star and comedian Christopher Titus has spent his post-Fox TV-sitcom life grinding it out on the road, offering his scorching takes on life and love to audiences across America and beyond. We’ve heard him discuss his turbulent childhood and teenage years (Norman Rockwell is Bleeding), and how it colored his own method of child-rearing (Born With a Defect). We’re told in mordant terms about his happy-then-disastrous first marriage and his subsequent resurrection as a new husband (Love is Evol). He spares us no comfort from the awkwardness of the voice in his head telling him he’s not good for anything, and how he’s finally learned to ignore it (Voice in My Head). Rounding out his sphere of consciousness are his observations on Americana in general (The 5th Annual End of the World Tour, Neverlution, Angry Pursuit of Happiness), which brings us to his freshly-filmed and released special, Amerigeddon.
Right now, there’s not a more salient or timely comedic voice, the likes of which we haven’t heard since George Carlin passed away ten years ago. Both Carlin and Titus deal with the macro and the micro in their comedy, and they’re not afraid to point out how utterly stupid we can be to each other. But they’re also never hesitant to point out the good which could possibly arise out of sane, rational, unselfish behavior. Seeing as how we’ve had precious little of that in the last two years, Titus has filled his hands with the comedy equivalent of two mounted cannons, taken aim at the current American sociopolitical landscape, and let both barrels rip repeatedly, hitting everyone and everything that moves.
His open disgust at the way we’ve been treating each other rings unfortunately and horribly true. Families have been broken up by the events of November 8th, 2016; we’ve allowed Nazis to take foothold in our culture after sending our men and women to defeat them in Europe in the 1940s; and we can’t stop ripping each other apart, hiding behind anonymous handles on the internet. Having seen Amerigeddon in its early infancy last year after he filmed and released Born With a Defect, I can say firsthand that Amerigeddon has grown beautifully out of being a punchline-filled show about the seemingly-everyday occurrences following the 2016 election which might make half of us believe that America is being destroyed from the inside out.
Don’t worry, the punchlines are still there, but in Titus’ inimitable fashion, he’s woven them into the fabric that is Amerigeddon, which has become more of a narrative documenting what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how we can fix it. And it all starts with us and the narcissistic stains our social media feeds us; namely, the “selfies,” the pictures of ourselves alone in whatever situation which attempts to make us look better than the next post below on our timelines. He translates this further to a larger social metaphor, asking us to break out of the selfie and move toward “us-ies” and “we-sies.” The admonition “It’s not ‘Us and Them The People’; it’s ‘We the People,’ and we forgot that” is something he hopes we take to heart, and he spends this special’s running time explaining why.
Using broad strokes, he reminds us about “they,” the people in power who set things in motion, the effects of which fall straight on the worries and wallets of the regular people. Speaking from a more centrist, independent standpoint, Titus – with all the figurative agility of a kung-fu master – straight-up roundhouse-kicks everything: the hyperbole shoveled out by both Democrats and Republicans, the false equivalencies, the fake bravado of the people yelling “BURN IT DOWN!”, and the absolute insanity spewing from everyone from every orifice. His comic execution has also transformed into a scarily prescient alarm buzzer. One notable moment displays his uncanny technique, starting off with a plea to “come together and fix this bitch called America. How ‘bout that?” He immediately starts a chant of “FIX THIS BITCH!” which suddenly takes a scary turn into campaign slogans and rhetoric, leading into how easily people fall for bullshit.
Even the set design is hauntingly metaphoric and able to be taken several different ways, with separated red and blue spotlights bordered by razor wire-entwined white fencing. Not only is this a take on the American flag, it also represents the separation of the two political ideologies, with it all against a stage-appropriate black scrim. That the colored lights in the background are caught between two white, protected structures speaks for itself. It’s also the safety of “the mommy, the daddy, and the white picket fence” he mentions in the opening seconds of Norman Rockwell is Bleeding evolving into something more sinister. This simple visual setup becomes a silent character alongside Titus himself, surpassing the similarly thought-provoking set designs in Norman Rockwell is Bleeding, Love is Evol, and Angry Pursuit of Happiness.
With Amerigeddon, Titus uses his comedic and storytelling abilities to try to bind us together instead of the separation you hear constantly coming out of this country’s politicians and news media. No one is safe here, as his cannons find their targets time and again, often with humorously devastating impact. However, in that danger lies the hope that everyone will see past the quick-fix crap meant to keep us divided socially and to keep us from seeing each other as human. Titus isn’t here to rip people apart with no consequences; not even he’s immune to his own ire, placing himself directly in his own gunsights. Instead, he brings us back to what it means to be sane Americans with common sense, where a vote for Harambe should be looked at as the stupid decision it is. Amerigeddon is a blistering indictment of American politics and how far we’ve been pushed into our echo chambers, but it’s also Titus trying to be a cheerleader for the country’s soul as it gets lost amid lust for money and power. Now, if only there was a way for this to be required viewing before the next electoral cycle…
Amerigeddon is now available on DVD and digital download from https://www.christophertitus.com/.