Few television debuts this year were as splashy or captivating as Tituss Burgess’ entrance onto the comedy scene in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which earned a whopping seven nominations (including Outstanding Comedy Series) and the first-ever nod for stage actor Burgess.
“I watch a lot of TV and I just never thought that I would be a part of today,” Burgess tells EW. “After I got the call, I just sobbed and told my team, let me digest and process this information. And I don’t even know that I’ve still processed it.”
Burgess, as dramatic wannabe star Titus Andromedon, says his favorite scene this season came in episode 11, “when I’m telling Kimmy that I’m going to watch the trial at the library so I can see it without ads,” the actor recalls, laughing. “My dishonest attempt to comfort her, to try to cover up my desire to see all the drama that was to ensue. That was my favorite.”
However, Burgess maintains that the episode is probably not the one the show will submit. “I suspect that it’ll be the episode with ‘Peeno Noir,’ because the fans love it so much, and who am I to say what’s the funniest?!”
Indeed, “Peeno Noir” — Titus Andromedon’s ode to genitalia, which caught the Internet by storm when the show premiered in March — was lightning in a bottle, but though fans have already expressed their interest in seeing Burgess perform it on the Emmys telecast, the actor tells a different story.
“Here’s what I’m going to say about that: my personal thought about the brilliance of ‘Peeno Noir’ as proven by the fans’ appreciation is that, when watched back, what makes it so exciting is the random locations and the random costume changes and the multiple shots that we’ve done all over the city,” he says. “If performed in a singular outfit with an orchestra, spouting these random words, I guarantee you it will not be funny, and, as is apropos, I won’t do it! It will not serve what we initially created… unless we can come up with a clever way to not replicate but to enhance the absolute ridiculousness of what we created, then I don’t want to take a step backwards.”
But don’t worry — Burgess is grateful to show creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock for developing the tremendous character, and can’t wait to dive back in for season 2. “The Titus that you guys saw knew absolutely nothing about season 1, so I’m happy that I don’t know what the hell is about to go on and I welcome being blindsided,” he says of the sophomore season, which will start production in August. “Tina actually did it on purpose several times. When Titus auditions for the Spider-Man musical, there was a dance sequence and she purposefully did not let me learn it so I could have a real response. That’s just the genius of Tina and Robert.”