Tituss Burgess, serious actor, singer, and writer, seems nothing at all like the voluble, extremely extroverted characters he’s gained much acclaim portraying. And his upcoming role in the comedy Dolemite Is My Name — opposite Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, and Wesley Snipes — probably won’t change people’s perceptions of the self-described introvert.
“Sometimes I think maybe I’ll just do a reality TV show to show people just how boring I really am,” Burgess insists, although he understands that fans of his Emmy-nominated role as Titus Andromedon on four seasons of the Netflix comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt might find that hard to believe. Tituss and Titus do both express themselves powerfully through song, and, not unexpectedly, Burgess also appreciates a good laugh.
“I think I have a unique way of seeing the world,” he says. “But what people call my humor is me calling it the truth. I just sort of put it all out there — the good, bad, and ugly.”
Burgess puts it all out there, with attitude, wit, and heart, in his new pop-rock song “45,” the lead single off his six-track EP, St. Tituss. “[The album tackles] some very personal things that I’ve experienced,” he says. “I kind of bare it all and talk about everything, from government to homophobia. And I got a chance to perform a bit of an exorcism on myself writing it. Hopefully I’ll get to do that on stage singing it.”
While the lyrics and video for “45” reference the nation’s “nosedive” from Obama to Trump, Burgess clarifies that the song isn’t about bashing our present POTUS. “[It’s] about a call to action for all Americans to make sure that we treat each other as humanely as possible. I suppose, in a way, that is the beginning of my would-be stomping of the grounds and trying to raise awareness of how poorly we treat each other in America. The land of the free, the home of the brave.”
Burgess will raise awareness further in his Kennedy Center concert appearance this Saturday, July 27, alongside special guest Jane Krakowski, his costar from Kimmy Schmidt and fellow Broadway vet. The pair share buzzy onscreen comedic chemistry, so Krakowski should lend ideal support. With plans to take on jazz, soul, pop, Broadway, and Motown, Burgess teases there will be additional surprises and guests, including Charl Brown, Tony-nominated star of Motown the Musical.
Burgess does not plan to premiere new songs off St. Tituss, but he promises an evening full of humor. “I get to do some songs that I’ve always wanted to do, that I’ve never done before, and work with some people that I love, who I’ve known for years. It’s going to be a big old love fest and smorgasbord for the ears.”
Tituss Burgess in Concert with Special Guest Jane Krakowski is Saturday, July 27, at the Kennedy Center, Concert Hall. Tickets are $29-99. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.