4. Christopher Titus
Like Lewis Black, Christopher Titus is a mouthpiece for my dark side, except that instead of raving about the world, he's going off about family, friends and loved ones. He certainly has a right to talk: he's survived a dysfunctional family and a similarly screwed-up marriage. I don't think there's anything you could throw at him that would surprise him anymore.
Titus has taken aim at parents who allow their kids to run amok, the idea that everyone gets a trophy for participating, and all sorts of politically correct things that don't make any sense. Instead of being the proverbial devil on your shoulder, he's the frustrated guy sitting there wondering why you put up with all this. "Who among us hasn't bought the concrete to weigh down the body?" he once wondered aloud about fights with your spouse.
He mined his life for humor with the classic FOX comedy Titus, a dark semi-autobiographical show that pointed out that no one's existence is really normal (one truism told us that, as the majority of marriages now end in divorce, it's the people with the happy families and white picket fences who are the freaks). As I mentioned in my review of his Neverlution show last year, Titus was and still is unafraid to take shots at everyone, himself included.
Yet both his TV series and his stand-up also got serious about a number of issues, including the deaths of his parents, and these parts were genuinely moving. Possibly because he's really lived through some tough stuff, Titus makes a pretty good dramatic actor. He appeared in an episode of UPN's Twilight Zone remake and for that installment, I completely forgot he was someone that I truly enjoyed laughing with. He made a separate and distinct impression on me. Something about comedians makes quite a few of them good at drama (two of my choices on this list have been on critically acclaimed TV shows).
Titus has long been great about making me laugh when it comes to family. A lot of us believe that our families are weird or screwed-up. but his really was. There's no doubt about that. He had an upbringing I doubt you'd wish on your worst enemy, and he got through it, and he's using it for something positive (laughter). Listening to him made me realize two things about my family: I didn't have it nearly as bad as I thought, and the parts that were bad were also kind of amusing.
I also want to give him a shoutout for being great with his fans. I met him after that Neverlution show, and I was pleasantly surprised when he saw my walker and asked me about my medical condition. We ended up having a conversation about how Vicodin really is, to quote him, "a gift from the baby Jesus." This is the kind of talk you could only have at a Christopher Titus show...and it was wonderful. He puts the "fun" in "dysfunctional" without a doubt.