Tituss Burgess on luck, TV, Pinot and 'Unbreakable' gratitude

Tituss Burgess on luck, TV, Pinot and 'Unbreakable' gratitude
The real Tituss behind Titus Andromedon on the Netflix comedy joins us live in the newsroom. He'll be taking your questions. Post them here or tweet us with the hashtag #askLATimes. (Michelle Maltais)

He's the guy who has a legion of viewers crooning, unwittingly perhaps, about male anatomy.

Stage actor Tituss Burgess burst onto the television comedy scene in Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" with as much sass and splash as the incredibly catchy ode to genitalia for which he is now renowned: "Peeno Noir." As dramatic wannabe star and laughably flamboyant roommate Titus (that's one "s") Andromedon, Burgess has successfully transitioned to television — proved by the 36-year-old's first Emmy nomination.


How did you celebrate your nomination, and how does that compare to how Titus Andromedon might have celebrated?

Well, Titus Andromedon would have went out and bought a couple of bottles of Pinot Noir, obviously. And had a couple of peeno noirs too. And he would have posted it all on Facebook and on Twitter.

But I actually spent most of the day alone.


On purpose. Because I wanted to sit with whatever information I was going to have [that morning] and take a moment to reflect on how awesome it was to even be a part of that conversation, and focus on that. So I made myself some lunch, went outside to my backyard with my dog. I had a glass of wine — it wasn't Pinot Noir — and I just counted my blessings. That's the truth.

Titus Andromedon is a very fun, loud character. Do you feel the pressure to always be "on" like him when you're out in public?

Yes and no. I'm very shy. I don't enjoy a lot of attention. I don't go out much. I have people over and I cook dinner or we play the piano or we watch TV.

What do you watch?

Oh, what don't I watch? I'm obsessed with the "Real Housewives" ATL, sorry about it. It's one of my favorite shows of all time. I love "Bates Motel." I'm a huge Vera Farmiga fan, and I'm a huge Freddie Highmore fan. In fact, that entire principal casting. "Penny Dreadful," right now, is probably my favorite television show. "Penny Dreadful" is so realistic. The tonality is so earthy and so real that I actually believe it is in the realm of possibility for all these extra species to exist among us. I just became obsessed with — and have already finished — "Sense8." Love it. I'm just recently picking up "Fargo." I could talk with you about this all day.

What do you think Titus Andromedon binges on? He has some time on his hands.

I think he binges on "Love and Hip Hop." I think he binges on the "Housewives." I think he binges on Maury Povich's show and Jerry Springer. I think he binges on "Days of Our Lives" — is that still on? I think he watches reruns of Oprah to fill his culture, and he borrows phrases of hers and makes them his own to make him sound smart. I bet he even watches "Dr. Oz" for his health needs because he can't afford health insurance.

Oh, I'm game for that. But first tell me your favorite quirk they've given Titus so far?


My favorite little "-ism" was a plot clue. It's every time he slipped up and almost told Kimmy he was married. When he's, like, 'Oh, I'm sure I can fit into my tuxedo from my weddin... dong, ding-dong. Bells are fun to listen to.' Oh, when I read that, I laughed so hard. Those moments when he catches himself are just so fun. I know that part of Titus that is the master manipulator. So for him to suddenly divulge too much information and grabbing it back before the world caught on to what he was saying, it's wonderful. I love it.

Is there a good and bad about being known for "Peeno Noir"? It brings so much joy to my life, but I imagine it can get annoying?

It is now woven into the fabric of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and me. It is my pleasure to revisit it as often as people want to talk about it. I don't know that I've ever been associated with anything that has brought people this much delight. Even if three, four, five years down the line, if people are still talking about it, then lucky me.

And that's what's great about Titus. Aside from his hilarious antics and selfishness, we do see his heart. You do see how he cares for Kimmy.

That's what I love. It really balances out all his eccentricities. It makes him real, but it balances out when he's being unapologetically self-absorbed. The flashy part is easy. That doesn't take a lot of thought process. But what takes great care is how you take care of human beings. Where Kimmy is concerned, he cares deeply.