Comics Tell All: Christopher Titus

Laughing at His Pain
Christopher Titus says comedy helped him overcome his dysfunctional family and his mother’s mental illness. He says she was a manic depressive who murdered his stepfather and later committed suicide.

When he first incorporated stories about his family into his comedy act, Titus admits that some of his fans responded negatively.

“If I explained my act to people, I’d say, ‘Yeah, it’s about my mom, it’s about her suicide — she killed herself — my dad’s alcoholism.’ Then all of a sudden they’d say, ‘That’s not funny at all,’” he explains.

“What was the impact on you when people started laughing about your stories? About the absurdity of your family?” Dr. Phil asks Titus.

[AD]“You know, I used to do really bad comedy. I would just do really lame jokes, and I had a friend pull me aside one day and say, ‘You know, if you don’t tell the truth onstage, you’re never going to go anywhere,” Titus explains. He says he initially worried that fans would never believe his stories or laugh at jokes about his personal life, but after sharing one story about his mother onstage, he says he finally saw the humor in his troubled past.

Titus recounts the first time he talked about his mother’s mental illness onstage.
While Titus says he’s glad he can laugh at his troubled past, he admits that his sister, Kirsten, struggled to heal from their family trauma. He says she was so depressed about their dysfunctional upbringing that she eventually killed herself.

“There was a lot of damage done,” Titus explains, noting that comedy allowed him to confront his family trauma, but Kirsten lacked the same outlet. “Mental illness is genetic in some cases, and I was so afraid I was going to go crazy, that I started searching to make sure I didn’t. I love doing stand-up. Kirsten didn’t have a chance to inquire like that,” Titus explains.

[AD]“We look at people like [John] Belushi, [John] Candy and all these people who have had this tremendous comedic gift who are not here today. There was a time in your life where you contemplated suicide, and you remember a particular time where someone came up and said, ‘You saved my life tonight,’” Dr. Phil says.

Hear how Titus says his comedy helped save one fan’s life.

Titus says he related to his fan because at one point, after learning his wife had cheated on him, he had also planned to commit suicide.

“There was a moment where I found out she [cheated on me], and I was on the road doing comedy. I was in this club, and I had done my first show, but I was so angry. I went back to the green room in the comedy club, and I was like, ‘I’m going to kill myself.' I was going to do it in between shows which was weird, and I started looking around for something to do it [with], and from somewhere else, I heard my father’s voice. He said, ‘You have a job to do. Get up, and go do your damn job,’ and I remember, it was like, he was there.”

[AD]After hearing his father’s words, Titus says instead of committing suicide that night, he returned to the stage to perform one of his best acts. “I got a standing ovation at that show. Is that weird? It was just a choice in that moment,” he says.

“Well, I can’t tell you how glad we all are that you didn’t kill yourself,” Dr. Phil says.

Nodding, Titus smiles.