TITUSS TALKS

About play­ing one-S Ti­tus.

Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - By Sarah Rodman sarah.rodman@la­times.com

If El­lie Kem­per is the sweet soul of “Un­break­able Kimmy Sch­midt,” then Tituss Burgess is its ir­re­press­ible heart as Kimmy’s out­landishly over-the-top room­mate and pal, Ti­tus An­drome­don. We chat­ted with Tituss, about how it’s not only that ex­tra “s” that sep­a­rates him from his char­ac­ter, crack­ing up on set, chan­nel­ing his in­ner Bey­oncé for the new sea­son and the sur­pris­ingly emo­tional ef­fect the Net­flix com­edy has on its fans.

Sea­son 3 dropped two weeks ago, and in it, Ti­tus goes “Le­monad­ing.” It looks pretty se­ri­ous?

Oh, he’s tak­ing it very se­ri­ously. Things aren’t go­ing so great be­tween him and Mikey. And, you know, Le­monad­ing seems to be the height of how you ex­or­cise your demons if some­one’s bro­ken your heart. So, what bet­ter way than to put on a yel­low dress and get a bat, and go and bash some win­dows?

So for those among us who haven’t binged it yet, can we pre­sume that he now has been on the high seas for some time, in close prox­im­ity to Dionne War­wick, singing “Ma­hogany”?

But he comes back pre­ma­turely and, of course, in true Ti­tus An­drome­don fash­ion, may­hem has fol­lowed him back to dry land. And he’s keep­ing a big ol’ se­cret that we don’t know about, but we find out later in the sea­son. And it’s as ridicu­lous as you can prob­a­bly imag­ine.

Is there any­thing ther­a­peu­tic about play­ing some­body that is this much them­selves?

It is fun to be un­apolo­get­i­cally that out­landish, and to say with­out fil­ters what you’re think­ing. I have a great deal more tact than Ti­tus An­drome­don, and I can edit re­ally quickly. But he just blurts it out, and it is re­fresh­ing. But I’ve got to tell you, though, af­ter Episode 13, it’s time for him to take a break, ’cause it is a lot.

And in ad­di­tion to that, you have these ter­rific lines, these ter­rific tongue-twis­ter things. One of my fa­vorites was “An­drome­don Pro­duc­tions, you can’t spell it with­out ‘drama’ if you spell it wrong.”

Right? He’s min­ing for a catch­phrase, and he’s just gonna force it and wedge it in there.

Be­cause of those sorts of lines and be­cause Tina was on the show this year, it seems like it would be very dif­fi­cult not to break. Is that still a thing that’s hap­pen­ing?

El­lie and I break the most. And we can see when the other one’s about to go up. You can see the deer-in-head­lights kind of look on their face or on my face, and we just fall apart. But when it’s the 11th hour, you’re like, “Girl, we are not, it’s not fun any­more. Let’s get it to­gether.”

There is such a wack­i­ness to the show, but there is such emo­tion as well. One mo­ment, you’re talk­ing about mi­crowav­ing wigs and the next you’re get­ting real about how you never got to come out.

Well, not to take this back to “Kiss of the Spi­der Woman,” but these ridicu­lous things serve as a pro­tec­tive sort of de­fense mechanism. And then when the ve­neer comes off, there’s the un­der­belly, and it sort of ex­plains an en­tire sea­son of ec­cen­tric­i­ties, you know?

You are dif­fer­ent enough from the char­ac­ter that I would imag­ine that when peo­ple see you on the street, there’s a lit­tle an­tic­i­pa­tion of —

They’re so dis­ap­pointed. There’s a cer­tain bizarre fa­mil­iar­ity that a lot of peo­ple have for who they think I am when they meet me, that on some level, I feel bad for them.

I’m sure you must also get peo­ple that, be­cause of the na­ture of your char­ac­ter, come to you and thank you for be­ing able to maybe ex­press some­thing they weren’t able to.

I’ll never for­get, I’d just been out to din­ner with some friends and I hear these foot­steps be­hind me, and I’m just as­sum­ing it’s one of my peo­ple. And I turned around and it was this young lady who was just sob­bing. So I was like, what’s wrong? Can I help, or what­ever? And she said, “I was di­ag­nosed with de­pres­sion, I have got­ten a di­vorce, which com­pounded the de­pres­sion, and I lost my job.” And I was like, “Je­sus Christ, girl, I can’t imag­ine what all those things must feel like.” And she said, “The one bright spot was know­ing that I could have you in my house as of­ten as I needed you.”

That must feel great.

It does feel great. In the so­cial, po­lit­i­cal cli­mate that we live in, where we’re find­ing it very dif­fi­cult to hold on to jus­tices and what is right, it’s a re­lief that there is some way I can con­trib­ute, some small blip in the pond, to give to some­one.

Kirk McKoy Los An­ge­les Times

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