Can you imagine a world without "Peeno Noir," the instant viral hit from Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?
Yeah, we can't either, with makes this confession from fan-favorite star Tituss Burgess almost too shocking to believe: Titus Andromedon as we know him might not have ever existed. Whoa.
When E! News got Burgess on the line to congratulate him over his first ever Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he confessed that he actually almost gave up on acting before landing the role on Netflix's hit comedy.
"[Showrunners] Tina Fey and Robert [Carlock] quite literally saved my artistic life," Burgess tells E! News. "I had so many offers from universities to come teach and I was exhausted and ready to hang it up. I need them to know how much they have shaped my present and my future."
And thank goodness for that, since Burgess is now celebrating his first Emmy nom (and we can't stop quoting "Peeno Noir!").
"It's a major surprise," Burgess says. "I was sitting on the couch with my best friend, I paced, I cleaned the apartment, I woke up way earlier than I wanted to and went downstairs and did a shot of tequila at 11:40, thinking that it would have already been announced. I was just stressed out, but not because I desired so much to be nominated and all that attention, but all the press and information surrounding it, I just wanted to get it over with. I just sat for a second and all of a sudden, my phone rang and texts came through! That's how I found out."
After Burgess talked to his manager and publicist and agent, he called his mom.
"She started a new job today coming out of retirement," Burgess says. "She didn't know about my nomination for about three hours until I told her, so that was really exciting."
While Titus Andromedon might celebrate an Emmy nom in an over the top way, his offscreen portrayer is celebrating in a much quieter way.
"I have a gala to sing at tonight, but I cleared my day mostly to just be alone because I didn't think it was going to happen!" Burgess says. "Not to be sad or stew, but I just wanted to be alone. It's a big deal to be in that conversation, and I start work on season two in about three weeks, and this is the first day that I had to gather my thoughts. I have no idea how I'm going to celebrate but it's likely going to be spent in silence."
But Burgess isn't the only Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star to get recognized by the Emmys. The show is nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, while Jane Krakowski is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and Jon Hamm and Fey herself are nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor/Actress in a Comedy Series.
"I think Tina Fey is just so incredible and talented and gifted," Burgess says. "I once asked her why she wasn't on Twitter, and she said, 'I'm not giving my jokes away for free!' And I just looked at her and I was like, ‘God, that's so smart.' She is such a visionary and she cares so much about her product. She's always there to guide me and I just respect her so much and have learned so much from her. I could not have done this without her, Ellie [Kemper], Carole Kane, and I didn't have much screen time with Jane, but I'm so glad she got nominated. And I'm sad Ellie did not get nominated. She was overlooked."
While our first pick of Titus scenes for Emmy voters to watch when it comes time to pick a winner would be "Peeno Noir," Burgess had a much harder time picking his top moment from the first season.
"Nooo, that's a whole thing. No, I can't do that!" Burgess says with a laugh. "I remember sitting down at the table read for the first episode and flipping ahead to every scene, not even the ones having to do with me and I thought, ‘Tituss, you're already a fan of this show!' I hate watching myself onscreen but I watched the premiere when it was released and I thought it was so joyous and such a beautiful tribute to women. I'm looking so forward to season two. I have no idea what's going to happen and I prefer it that way."
Are there any plans for him to top "Peeno Noir" in season two?
"I have no idea. It's better that I don't know what's coming so I can give an honest reaction," Burgess says. "I'm not planning to top anything, I just want people to be entertained and laugh. Even if there's no singing from Titus in season two, I still feel like we can make a compelling case for something that is funny." (*Crossing our fingers that there is definitely singing from Titus in season two.)
And when it comes to the big night itself, the 2015 Emmy Awards, Burgess doesn't expect anything except to maybe "giggle some more with Queen Latifah."
"Listen, I've already won," he says. "The award would be lovely but right now in all seriousness, it's inconsequential and I can't believe I'm even in the conversation with all these other giants. Today, I feel like a winner!"