Monday, May 23, 2011

The Podiwan Review 20 - Titus Podcast

Christopher Titus, the stand up, TV SitCom star and now podcaster is not, for the record and contrary to what another reviewer says, a second rate Louis Black. I've seen Titus' stand up. I watched his TV show and I've now listened to each of the 12 TitusPodcasts released and he is not trying to be Louis Black. Are they both "angry" comics? Yeah, but Titus is way more genial about it and besides, angry comics account for about 25% of all stand-ups. The rest of the break down is 25% neurotics, 40% quirky observationalists and 10% comic geniuses. I don't think either Louis Black or Chris Titus are comic geniuses but they are funny and Black doesn't do a podcast. Titus does. I review podcasts. So, that's all I'm going to say about Louis Black.

That being said, Titus isn't pushing the boundaries of podcasting with his show. He's new to the podcasting game and he's doing the most common type. It's a standard sit and talk, but he's got a big part of it right; the chemistry.  The people on the show are friends and have an easy trust with each other that comes out in conversation. One of the holes that many comics who are doing podcast step into is the “trying to be funny all the time” hole. The good news for Titus' listeners is that he's not trying to be funny all the time. Certainly, his default position is trying to be funny. He's a comic. It's a reflex and a defense mechanism. But he also seems to genuinly want to discuss actual topics and to express thoughtful opinions. He dissembles occasionally by saying he doesn't think he's the shiniest penny in the bag (and true enough, he's not) but he's not a moron either. He seems more "everyman" than superman. I'm ok with that, especially in long form podcast format where superman can become something of a bore.

As to format, the show is an hour plus and is Titus, his girlfriend ( I think) Bombshell Rae and another friend, Stuntman Tommy. They sit around and talk. Pretty simple. Nothing produced. Mostly nothing planned except the topic. The audio isn't great but they're working on it and making improvements as they go. The show opens with Titus doing the Armageddon Update which is a prepared rant style commentary of current headlines. That's followed by the table talk and that goes about an hour.

Another reviewer said of Titus and the crew that they were uninformed and stupid. I don't think that's exactly accurate though Titus laughingly agreed with the assessment. No, I think there are a lot of things I take for granted as common knowledge that weren't a part of Christopher's world experience. I think there probably isn't much about a Chevy big block that he doesn't know and he absolutely knows how to craft 90 minutes of stand up. I'm quite certain that he's an intelligent person which mostly serves to highlight the occaisional missing piece of common knowlege. He’s inquisitive and discerning when he has the background info but there are times when the info he has is incorrect. Logically, anything that follows from the incorrect starting point will be skewed a bit. Stuntman Tommy; well, he doesn't talk enough for anybody to make a guess and Bombshell just sounds like she's young enough that things I lived through are only historical references that she could find on Wikipedia but otherwise probably wouldn't come upon. I think all three of them want to know and understand and plug into the world of factoids and relevant bytes but, as I've mentioned to people in my own business, you can't specialize in everything. You have to pick your thing. Titus' thing is being funny while exposing his heart and his hurt. His frustration in leaders and citizens is your frustration and he gives it a voice. His friends are like your friends and it's nice to listen in on them while they talk.

I like the podcast for what it is. It is simply three friends talking. One is a verteran stand up and the other two are normal civilians with standard funny input once in a while. There's no political correctness or agenda and by their own reckoning they stumble into more jokes than they plan. Good. That's more real. It's more accessible and frankly, it's the kind of thing I like to have buzzing in my head while I'm trying to do my actual work or walking the dog at midnight.

If for no other reason, I have to give a positive review to Titus for this line, stated while discussing a possible Palin run for President; he said, “You don't give the stupidest cheerleader the Uzi.”

That's just about the best frame with the fewest words that I've seen on the subject of Mrs Palin.

Recently the trio was discussing what they would or wouldn't do to improve production values. If I could offer any advice, it would be this: Don't produce pre recorded bumpers, intros and outros. That's radio. That's for polished teams of broadcasters and big budget "shows". That's not what TitusPodcast is. Titus podcast, I think, is best as a free form conversation with some jotted bullet points that you try to hit as the hour goes by. Be who you are. Don't try to be like 80 other podcasts that I cannot find the stomach to listen to even enough to review them.

My rating scale
Is this podcast entertaining? - Yes. Pleasant but not challenging
Am I likely to listen to the next podcast? – Yes, it is on my weekly listen to list.
Do I recommend this podcast to friends? – Yes