Christopher Titus: Carrying Monsters | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Christopher Titus: Carrying Monsters

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Making his Fringe debut, Christopher Titus is not much known in the UK. But in the Stateshe had his own Fox sitcom that ran for 54 episodes over three-and-a-bit seasons and has recorded nine stand-up specials – of which Carrying Monsters is the latest and, he says, the darkest. It’s easy to believe him.

A list of trigger warnings for this show about his troubled family life would be extensive, from suicide to addiction, but his ethos is ‘nothing is a tragedy if you can add a punchline’. We all have monsters, he asserts, and they are given to use by the ones we love. Making jokes about them is his way of processing it all.

With candour but no sentimentality, he tells us how his mother was an alcoholic manic depressive who once abandoned him in a bar when he aged four, And at 11, she left him to hitchhike home alone. Dad was even worse, by the way he has to decide such a thing – a distinction between the two which proves as grim as it is morbidly funny. 

Understandably, the humour shot through this material is often jet-black and however much he assures us we can laugh, the bleakness below is sometimes a bit too real. Nevertheless, they are compelling stories in his assured hands, and the fact he has triumphed over such wretched beginnings to stand before us joking about them is reason enough for celebration. 

For a bit of levity – at least by comparison to what precedes it – the second half of the hour revolves around some of the most toxic episodes in his bitter 13-year custody battle with his ex-wife, leading to unbearable heartbreak. This segment hits home harder than the childhood trauma, perhaps because it has clear goodies and baddies – at least in his telling - for us to engage with. That means we share his emotions: every jab landed on his former partner seems like a victory, every court defeat a cruel blow. 

With such a long track record in comedy, it comes as no surprise that Titus is a comic who knows what he’s doing. He holds the audience rapt with an understated confidence throughout these challenging stories.

The only niggle was his occasional references to the small audience - maybe 30 or so – or his disappointed response in our muted response. But the folk who did buy tickets are never the people to complain to, and it is hard to guffaw at some of the stories, even after he gave us permission. 

But my, what stories they are…

Christopher Titus: Carrying Monsters is on at Assembly George Square at 6:15pm

Review date: 15 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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