**** (out of 5)
Titus, the FOX sitcom based on the life and stand-up comedy of Christopher Titus, went off the air 20 years ago this week.
Perhaps not the first Yank you’d figure to be making his Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2022, but then perhaps you don’t know much about Titus. The man’s got stories to tell. He told some of them through three seasons of unorthodox television, at least and still by U.S. broadcast network standards. He has toured comedy clubs and theaters across North America regularly over the past two decades, recording and releasing nine specials in that time. The ninth, Zero Side Effects, is due out Aug. 13.
Carrying Monsters goes back to the well Titus first dove down for his first special back in 2004, Norman Rockwell is Bleeding. That well is the pain and suffering he felt as a child of divorce. If most divorces, in his mind, split because one of the two partners were psycho, how then do you reconcile the aftermath of a marriage in which both parental eggs were rotten? He claims he can finally tell all of the stories from his childhood now that some of his family members have died. Why? Less lawsuits! Especially when Titus repeatedly reminds us that every situation he’s recounting actually happened to him. “I’ve added jokes just to make it less sad.”
Must cycles of addiction, abuse and mental illness repeat themselves down the family line, generation after generation? As Titus shifts his attention from his parents back toward himself, his ex-wife, and his own children who had to witness their parents battle over 13+ years of family court proceedings, the comedian reckons with the karma of it all. Perhaps it explains why he has worked how he has worked all of these years since his sitcom ended.
Nevertheless, Titus remains fully engaging with his audiences and engaged in the life story he’s sharing. Whether or not you can identify, you still might learn a thing or two.
Christopher Titus: Carrying Monsters runs through Aug. 28, 2022, at Assembly George Square Studios (Studio Two).