From 2000 to 2002, Christopher Titus had a brief cup of coffee at the network level as the producer-star of his own eponymous sitcom, based on his dysfunctional adolescence. But Titus the show didn’t fully showcase the comedian’s fierce, if demon-derived talents. Instead, that’s best left to his all-new Comedy Central stand-up special, Love is Evol, new to DVD this week.
A tour de force on all things love, Love is Evol is a hilarious and unflinching look at dating, romance, marriage and especially heartache and divorce — the “psychological barbed wire” of relationships. Building on the same sort of very personal material explored in 2004’s Norman Rockwell is Bleeding and 2007’s The 5th Annual End of the World Tour specials, Titus plumbs dark places for some genuine, slack-jawed laughs, without the gimmickry of empty shock through manufactured coarseness. There’s a lot of material about his parents — his father was an emotionally abusive heavy drinker, his mother a manic-depressive schizophrenic alcoholic who eventually killed her second husband, but also showed up at her son’s high school graduation in “white, thigh-high go-go boots and an Army jacket, looking like the commander of a stripper battalion.” Titus confesses that this tumultuous upbringing has resulted in a permanent mocking inner monologue, a feeling of always being one step away from screwing things up.
He doesn’t shy away from also turning the fire on his ex-wife, though. While Titus assays the process of divorce harshly (“I’d rather be majority stockholder in a chain of Alec Baldwin daycares with Britney Spears as the CEO”), he argues that the June 6, 2006 filing date of the end of his marriage was an ironic gift from God. If your loved one comes from a screwed up family background but you think they got out sane, think again, Titus advises — they’re more likely just “a psycho Tylenol gelcap.” Jealousy seems to have been a big issue in Titus’ marriage — he claims he was accused of sleeping with people he hadn’t even met — so that issue gets plenty of workout. In broader, slightly less personal, or at least less psychologically penetrating, areas of focus Titus also advises against Capri pants for ladies, and says that women can believe a man really loves them if he goes to the mall with them. “At the mall,” Titus says, “men are always thinking, ‘I wish I was doing something productive — like cleaning out the gutter, coming up with life goals or inventing a car that runs on shattered dreams and lost faith in myself.'”
While the hard-hitting personal material may on the surface seem an odd match with some of the more generally observant comedy that rounds out the last leg of the show, Titus finds smart ways to interweave the two. It helps, too, that he’s not afraid to tag the harshest of his jokes with small, puncturing laughs of self-evisceration, making his own foibles and perceived inadequacies always part of the punchline. It’s this tack — the never vain, shrewdly perceptive ability to mine truth from personal angst — that helps elevate Titus’ material from merely funny to both amusing and painfully insightful, in its best passages.
Housed in a regular Amaray case, Christopher Titus: Love is Evol comes to DVD on a single disc, presented in full screen. Bonus materials include over 40 minutes of material not aired from the show’s Valentine’s Day premiere on Comedy Central, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette on the photo shoot for the special, man-on-the-street interviews with fans and “Countdown to V-Day,” a segment in which Titus gives love advice. To purchase the DVD via Comedy Central, click here; to purchase it via Amazon, meanwhile, click here. A- (Concert) B (Disc)