The Titus Story
Here’s the short story: I met titus a little under 3 years ago when I had done 5 open mics. He encouraged me. Gave me advice and I never forgot it. Last October he came to town. I got to meet him backstage. He encouraged me again. We BS’d for a while. He said good job. Keep it up. December 2011. I show up a little early to hang with titus, and am telling him what I’ve been up to and about 5 minutes before showtime Titus goes “Hey you wanna do 5?” I changed my underwear, went out and had a pretty good time in front of 800 people. He complimented me. Gave me a tag idea. Encouraged me. Insert inspirational stuff here. Goodnight. The end.
So today I was invited to do 5 minutes in front of Christopher Titus at the Snoqualmie Casino. Here’s a long story of how it happened and the over analyzing of it all, breaking down why it happened, how it evolved and why I was only given 5 minutes notice and what happened once I got on stage. It’s really long. It’s more so I have the memory. But if you’re at all interested then we should start way back.
Titus has been one of my favorite comics for a long time. My dad and I grew up watching his show on fox. I’d seen a couple clips of his standup. but before I was really into comedy. I’d also seen clips from Brian Regan, Dane Cook, and Pablo Fransisco and liked them all and repeated lines from all of them. lol. My taste was all over the map. Now that I’m more of a snob about it, I’d say my taste has refined a bit. Less Dane Cook, More Brian Regan. But still respecting both sides of the fence. About 3 years ago my dad had a christmas show with Titus as the comedian and the band would perfrom. I didn’t see the show I can’t remember why but I was not yet starting my path until about a month later. A month later I had done a few open mics and I would go into the show and try out a couple jokes as probably what started as a radio gag for my dad. Some would go ok. Some would go awful and then it would be entertaining either way. It was almost another open mic. Except it’s my dad. and I can’t swear. So there goes half of any open micer’s set usually. One day I’m hanging out and Titus calls in to promote his new special coming out on Valentines Day. I started comedy at the end of January. So this is maybe a week or two into February. I’ve got somewhere between 5-8 open mics under my belt. I could look it up exactly if I dig out my old comedy notebook but it doesn’t matter right now. I’d get lost in the “I can’t believe I thought that was funny.” wormhole and start drinking.
So before titus calls in during the commercial break I tell a new joke to spike and he laughs a little and my dad wasn’t paying attention. He hears spike laugh and turns his head and goes “wait, what was it?” So I start to tell it again and then he goes “Oh nevermind save it for on air.” So the show goes back from commercial break they’re interviewing titus and then all of a sudden my dad kinda sets me up with this “Yeah my sons doing comedy blah blah. Tell him a joke.” I tell the joke and of course everyone already heard it during the break, and it’s not a good enough joke to be funny a second time. (or even a first time, really.) So it BOMBS. When a joke bombs. It feels like time slows down. So it must’ve felt like a year before they kinda awkwardly laugh and start to make fun of me. Then my dad says “do you have any advice for comedians.” and titus goes on a nice rant for a minute or two and explains writing and all this stuff. Really helpful shit. So helpful, I made a youtube video of it. I even included the embarrassing joke I told. You’re welcome.
So fast forward every once in a while Titus would call in and just BS with the guys and they’d kinda mention “oh yeah andrew’s doing well blah blah.” So last year Titus comes to town again in October and I’m still getting my feet wet but I’m pretty regularly booked at this point as a feature. So we’re backstage talking and he’s offering different pieces of advice and telling stories and he told me I looked like his Fetus. lol. He also said that in his life, only 3 people have ever said they were going to be a comedian and did it and that I was only the 3rd person to have done it and I should take a lot of pride in that. I kinda held onto that. That was pretty special to me.
Again. Another year goes by. It’s December 2011. I’m again pretty regularly booked. Spent the year traveling and opening doors and experiencing new things. Breaking out from my shell, really. I see titus is coming to town. I put a note in my calendar. About a week before the show. I had a CRAZY daydream about showing up and Titus saying “You wanna do 5?” and what would I say, what set would I do? I quickly told myself I was crazy. It would NEVER happen and went about my business. Today about 3pm. I get a text message from a booker. This guy always texts me the day of a show, the pay is usually not that great for a middle, and the venues are usually not the most fun. “You busy tonight?” In my head I now have a choice. Go do a crappy show probably an hour away down south for some break even dough, or go hang with Titus and brag about what I’ve been up to. It only took a split second to write back and say “I’ve got plans… but I’m open next thursday.” – He hasn’t written back yet. :/
I get to my parents house about 430 pm. Watching some seahawks pregame, mom is making dinner. At about 530 I’m watching the seahawks game with my dad, things are going good. The Entertainment Director from the Snoqualmie Casino calls my dad. He’s a very nice guy, he’s good friends with my dad and I (through my dad) and always leaves a ticket for me and a couple friends if there’s a comedian I want to see. I’ve seen Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Jay Mohr, Titus, Bill Engvall, and I’ve even done a few shows at the casino for them over the few years I’ve been doing it. So our friend calls my dad and says “Hey, the shows at 7. Show up a little early if you want to meet and greet. Tell Andrew he might get to do a couple minutes if he gets here early enough. Titus seems like the type of guy who might let him do it.”
I’m freaking out. I hate eating before shows, but I had not eaten all day because I knew my parents were cooking and I slept till 1pm because I was out drinking the night before. So I figured I’d wait. Now I have to eat. So I had one small bowl of spaghetti and I leave early to get to the casino a half hour before showtime. I’m texting my friend the whole time trying to keep calm and decide on a setlist and do I mention anything about looking like titus, do I address the fact that good comics are coming up. What do I say? Typical thoughts that might happen over the course of a few days had I known. I’m timing a few sets in the car. I ran through it 2 times. It’s a 15 minute drive. So two 5 minute sets, thoughts, text messages, and then I pull up. I find the ENT Director and start chatting and he says “Oh. I guess Titus brought his girlfriend and she’s gonna open the show.” I’m kindof relieved but still a little bummed and a little slapping myself like “of course you’re not gonna get thrown up on stage. I’m a dummy.” So we talk for a minute everyone else is on the way. Then he says “I’m gonna go tell titus you’re here and everyone’s on the way. Stay here.” I call my brother let him know I’m not going on. The ENT Director comes back and says “Titus wants to see you.” It’s maybe 10 minutes to 7. Show is starting at 7:10. Walking backstage he says “So maybe you can MC tonight, just go out and introduce the comedians. and maybe if you got a few little things you wanna throw out there go for it.” in my head I don’t know what that means. I’m thinking “thanks, welcome, cell phones, no heckling, Bob Saget in January, now here’s your first comic.” and if I had any jokes relating to that. Go for it. So I’m like “Yeah, just some announcements or something?” and he was like “well no announcments. Just MC stuff.” I’m confused but I’m like whatever. I get to show my face. Maybe tell one quick intro joke and bring up the comics. Good enough.
I come in the dressing room and the ENT director goes “Here’s your MC tonight.” and we’re hanging out telling stories and jokes. Titus asks me what I’ve been up to. I drop the Rooster T Feathers story. He freaks out because that’s where he started and I’m like “yeah. I was nervous as hell.” but I had good sets there. He asks if I was middling I said “No. I MC’d there.” and he starts to interrupt and stops when I keep going “but ya know. Just to get my foot in the door. I don’t care where you put me.” he goes “Exactly.” he starts talking about how I need to get out and just drive everywhere and make no money. and I tell him I put 40k miles on my car in a year and he goes up for a huge high five and goes “You’re doing it, man. That’s so impressive. Nobody does what they say they are gonna do anymore. You told me 3 years ago ‘I’m gonna be a comedian.’ and now you are. Thats awesome.”
So the ENT director comes and checks in on us and says “about 5 minutes to showtime. you ready?” I say “Yeah. Tell me what you want again?” and he says “Go up do a few little jokes if you want and bring up Rachel.” and titus goes “Yeah you wanna do 5?” and in my head it’s more like “let me change my underwear first.” but I’m like “uhhh yeah. I guess.” So titus goes “ok he’ll do lik 3-5. but if you go over. I’ll kill you. She’ll do like 15 and I’ll do like an hour and a half. Gimmie a light at an hour and we’ll see how it’s going.” and so now I’m like:
I start looking in my phone. Going over my set. I’m 100% sure I’m gonna forget it. I’m like is there a stool. Can I bring my notes. What the… Half hour ago. I was ready. 5 minutes before the show? I’m scared to death. Titus is kinda enjoying watching me squirm and conversing a little bit and I don’t wanna be rude and ignore him but I’m kinda tuning out to look over my notes and then he starts looking over his notes and makes a comment like “Im bringing a music stand out. I just don’t know this yet.” and so it gets good. I feel less nervous. He’s worried he’s gonna forget it too. The ENT director comes in. 3 minutes. I’m like “Well. No time like the present.” and I close my notes. Rachel comes up “you nervous?” and I’m like “Yeah. I think it’s just no notice. Normally I’m less nervous.” and she goes “Yeah. Titus still gets nervous. Nothing wrong with that.” I get out to the side of the stage. Titus pulls me aside: “Whats your mindset right now?” I’m like “What do you mean?” “Whats your mind thinking when you’re out there?” I’m like “Gimmie something.” he says “Fuck the audience. They can’t do what you do. That’s why they’re out there. If it doesn’t go well. Fuck em. They’re wrong. You’ve done this a million times. You know these jokes work.” More like 800 or so and maybe around 100 for these particular jokes and only a few times in this specific order. But yes. I clearly get he’s nervous for me. or having some sort of realization that I’m some random kid who says he’s a comedian. He’s never seen a set. He heard one awful joke 3 years ago. Man that’s faith. That’s a guy with a good heart. But also trying to cover his ass if I eat it. lol. You can also dive into it like “He’s wrong. It’s usually your fault if a joke doesn’t work.” but clearly he’s in pep talk mode. We’re in the huddle before kickoff. You say whatever you need to get your team fired up and play like you’re in the superbowl even if you’re 7-9 and nobody thinks you belong in the playoffs.
I get a text from my mom “2nd row left center, where are you?” and I’m on the stage getting a pep talk from titus. lol. I don’t have time to text back like “get your camera ready.” They tell me to go and they’ll open the curtain at the same time. I set my timer and open my notes because I was ready 2 minutes ago but now it’s showtime and I’m FUCKED again. lol. I set it on the stool as the lights come up. Realizing. “Oh shit. This is a 800 seat theater. I’m not gonna be standing by the stool the whole time looking at my notes or my timer. I have to come to the edge of the stage and talk. That thing is way too far behind me. *you idiot* – So I go out “Snoqualmie Casino!” *roar* “It’s gonna be a great show. TITUS is here tonight.” *roar* My name is Andrew, I’ll be ho uh opening up tonight. Make sure you guys have a good time.” Some form of opening / host. I don’t know what I was saying. Now I’m like “Great. I’ve fucked up the intro. I haven’t even gotten to my jokes yet.” – “I’m a touring comedian. I travel all over the world.” (That’s a lie, I meant to say country. but here I am fucking shit up. lol. Although some of the tribble runs count as a third world countries by now.) “Although. I’m super famous. So I drive to all my gigs.” *decent chuckles* by the way. Take all of these quotes on stage and add a few “uhhh”‘s in between every 3rd or 4th word. My mom sent me an iphone video of the set up to this point when security asked her to stop recording. So I can’t confirm but I did get big laughs and the rest of the set went much smoother. The first laugh is always the toughest.
A couple interesting thoughts. Once I got that first chuckle. I was good. I loosened up. I didn’t even hesitate on any transitions. I knew my set, I knew my punchlines. I couldn’t even imagine why I thought I would be forgetting it. I was having such a great time. I did my Jiffy Lube punchline and it got a pretty good laugh except one guy somewhere on the left seemed to boo or make some noise. I went off script “Really, sir? Now everyone here knows you work at Jiffy Lube.” got a nice big laugh. I had never even done that comeback before. I’m sure I thought of it sometime before but I had never used it on stage. At a few points during the lil wayne joke I could hear Titus laughing on the side. That kinda made me smile. I don’t know if he laughed before that or after that and I didn’t notice but considering it’s my second bit in and one of my favorites. I will take it. I talk about rap music and high school and I had a weird thought on stage. “Holy shit. I went to school down the street. I wonder if I can quickly make a reference to that during this bit.” but I decided not to fix something that wasn’t broken yet. In the future if I’m doing shows at snoqualmie, maybe I’ll think ahead of time about references. but it was clearly a sign to me that I was on semi-autopilot. I’m thinking in my head during my jokes, it’s going well enough, I’m just on muscle memory mode. I’m adlibbing. I’m considering adlibbing again. It was good. I decided in the middle of the set to drop one joke I planned on doing because I didn’t want to even go close to long. I was really having a great time and I was so happy to even be given the opportunity. I didn’t want them to be off stage thinking, “ok, wrap it up.”
I looked at my timer when I get off. It was 6 minutes 8 seconds. But with walk on stage, introductions, my set and then introduction for Rachel and walk off stage. That seems like a 4 1/2 minute set. Maybe less. The thing that surprised me was the timing of it. I thought for sure it would be 800 people laughing, it would take a while to calm down between jokes, but they seemed to adapt to my rhythm really well. I didn’t feel like I was waiting too long for anything. Maybe that’s a sign it didn’t go as well as I thought. but who knows. My brother says he has the whole thing on video. I can’t wait to watch it and tell myself it sucked.
I asked Rachel for an introduction backstage, she said “Make up whatever you want. but it has to be funny.” Fuck. Now I have to write a joke about you and remember my jokes? This is too much. They were giving me examples people used “she was in fresh prince of bel air. She was on the show ALF. Blah blah.” So I introduced her by saying “Your next comedian is very funny, travels all over and was the only white backup dancer on in living color.” and I heard Titus crack up again. That kinda made me feel good too. I got off stage. Titus gave me a huge pound and was kinda freaking out a little. He didn’t say it but from how he was a little worried before and saw my set and laughed he had this expression like “Yeah! That was way better than I thought it would be.” he goes “great job. You’re likeable, your clean, your funny. great job.” then he made a crack about I need to work on my posture. I looked like shaggy from scooby doo out there. lol. Then he gave me a tag idea and said take each joke and say “what’s next? What else is there?” He complimented me a couple more times. Keep it up. you’re there. you’re doing it. Impressive. 3 years. That’s great. Did I mention he complimented me a lot? Gee, Andrew, let’s make the whole post about that. Look, I’ll feel like crap tomorrow. Let me have my day. 🙂
After I got off stage the entertainment director complimented me and said nice job. I went back in to the green room. Grabbed a water and kind of … cooled down. He came out by and said here’s your pay and hands me 2 buffet coupons. I laughed pretty hard. “YEAH!” and then Titus came out of the green room like “What’s that?” I said “I didn’t know it was a paying gig.” He laughed and goes “Right on, man!” and went for a fist bump and I went for a handshake. We kept messing up that combo all night. So ladddiess. If you want a free buffet. Gimmie a call.
I went to my seat as Rachel finished her set. Watched Titus and had a ball. What’s funny is he brought a music stand out with basically a screen play size pile of papers with all of his jokes on them for his new 45 minutes that’s literally being tweaked every night and is so fresh he doesn’t have it memorized. He open mic’d a set for 45 minutes. Sometimes he’d turn a paper and read it and walk away from the mic stand for a few minutes. At some points, literally, reading the jokes off the paper and every once in a while he’d catch himself not putting any emotion into it and up the intensity to pretend like he knows what’s coming. At one point he even said “this is my campaign speech here.” and started to read it and stopped and said “Oh. This isn’t the speech. That’s later. Sorry.” and it was still funny. Sometimes a joke would fall flat. He’d grab a sharpie go to the notes and say outloud “this is not a joke.” or “this needs work.” or “hmmm. I’ll put a question mark on this one.” while jotting down notes. every once in a while someone from the audience would chime in “Yeah. dump that one.” or “keep it.” as he went to scratch it off and he would crack a joke off that. He made it just as fun for the audience. and rewarded them with a few well refined pieces and older bits that are still relevant to the new stuff.
It was a great show. A great night. My dad stayed home because his stomach wasn’t feeling well. but my mom and my brother got to see it. I’m sure my dad will get a few emails or calls and maybe I’ll get a facebook friend or two. They sold all their DVD’s at a table after the show (and sold out with over 100 people still in line, btw) I waited another hour and a half at the end of the show just so I could say goodbye, get a picture and thank him for another 2 minutes (and get a few more compliments). I also hung out (far enough away from their table that I didn’t feel like I was encroaching, but still close enough to snipe a few “you were great, are you local?” comments and “why yes, here’s by business card with my website.” So it was really a great night.
One other thing that kinda made me chuckle, is after the show I kinda realized. I went to high school down the street from here. Literally a 5-10 minute walk. I was a loser. Nobody liked me. I got picked on, and harassed constantly. I didn’t get girls. and now I’m performing comedy, doing pretty good (if I do say so myself) in front of 800 people. So. Yeah. How do you like me now? Still no? oh ok. but seriously though. If one person from high school that even sort of knew of me was at that show. That would be cool. and to those bullies. You created this. Not to keep going and make it sappy. but Titus told a 22 minute story at the end of his set about meeting bruce springstein. How Bruce’s kid said he loved the show “titus” and asked his dad to watch it with him and bruce said it was great because it had all these dynamics of love and pain. I can’t remember exactly. but the point of the story was he liked it because it was about bad things or whatever. Titus said “I am who I am not because of my successes but because of my fuckups. I got to meet the Bruce because of my fuckups.” That made me a better person. I’m here because I had what I thought was a horrible childhood.
I couldn’t help but think of that as I got to my car. Those kids made me this way and I’ve long since gotten over it. Aka. Shoved it deep down and not thought about it ever. MANLY MAN. Emotions? What are those? but maybe I should reflect once in a while and realize it wasn’t such a bad thing after all. That I made it through THAT. I can certainly make it through a 5 minute set on short notice in front of a huge crowd (even if I stutter and combine words and screw it all up before I’ve even told a joke.)
Thanks for reading. Or clicking, realizing it was too long, and just clicking “like” on facebook instead. That’s good enough. Goodnight.