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Twisted Sitcom

The dysfunctional family is now as American as Mom and apple pie. Time was, the American family was reflected on TV in such sugary shows as Ozzie and Harriet or Father Knows Best. But the world has turned since then, become a decidedly weirder place, and unless you were going for irony, a show about the 1950s nuclear family just wouldn't appeal to modern audiences. That's why those programs are relegated to Nick at Nite, while modern audiences catch sitcoms like Titus in the Fox network.

Having a semiautobiographical TV show about how screwed up your family is must be the ultimate form of therapy. You get to role-play through such life-changing events as the time your alcoholic, infarction-prone father got in a brawl with you or the time you had to defend your schizophrenic mother's stabbing of an ex-boyfriend. Sadly, despite the success of the sitcom in a TV land where most shows of the genre don't last even a full season, this form of television therapy seems to have done little good for Christopher Titus; he appears to be as screwed up as ever.

Instead of going the way most children raised in his environment would (jail, perhaps), Titus turned to comedy. He has been performing standup since age 18, when he would rush on stage, do his act, and then rush back out of the club before getting accosted for being underage in a nightclub. After more than a decade of such gigs, including standout shows for three years at Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival, Titus was rewarded with the comedian's pot of gold -- his very own sitcom. In the grossly homogenized world of sitcoms, Titus stands out for both its dark comedy and its confession-booth statements, which remind the viewer of some twisted version of The Real World. But like many comedians who graduated to television, the canned, ready-for-consumption world of the small screen just doesn't provide the same thrill as the stage, which has driven Titus to head back out on the road.

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Dan Sweeney
Contact: Dan Sweeney

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