Christopher Titus has this message for those few critics who panned his self-titled Fox comedy: You failed to mention several obvious weak points.

"Has anyone else noticed that we, basically, blatantly ripped off the HBO series Oz with our structure? Anybody?" he asked reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, CA. "I mean, except we're a lot funnier and no prison rape scenes... yet. [Also], we have opening titles that look like they were thrown together in a garage in Van Nuys in about four hours. They were, except it took two hours."

Titus can afford to sit back and crack wise since his dark-horse sitcom is a certified smash. In fact, the comic was in such a good mood at the press tour that he prepared a list of responses skewering the by-the-book answers writers usually hear from stars. "Hey, man, you know what? Myself, the cast and the crew ? we're really just like a family... that only sees each other at work... where we're being paid," Titus quipped. "You know, I would do this even if they weren't paying me, but then I'd have to get a job that paid me. So, I wouldn't have a lot of time to do this."

Titus's real-life family ? which served as the inspiration for his dysfunctional family sitcom ? certainly would be disappointed if he opted for a career change; they're all big fans of the show. In fact, they all want in on the act, which, as the star points out, only provides more grist for the mill.

"[They say] 'You know, I punched a cop once. Can you put that in the show?' " Titus says. "I'm getting stuff like that, which is weird. So I'm finding out darker and darker stuff about my family, which is going to bode well."