I should start this post with a disclaimer: I have no strong feelings about Daniel Tosh. I know some of you reading this probably think he’s really funny, while some of you reading this think he’s an unfunny power tool. I don’t think he’s unfunny or funny — ever since bursting onto the scene a few short years ago I’ve always just considered him, well, there.
With that said, late yesterday afternoon a minor firestorm erupted over an incident involving Daniel Tosh and a woman who attended one of his standup shows last Friday night. According to the aforementioned woman’s account, Tosh launched into a lengthy stream of rape jokes, prompting her to criticize Tosh’s act from the audience. Things then got a little ugly, as can sometimes happens when you choose to heckle a comedian during a performance rather than just getting up and walking out.
After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there.
Tosh issued an apology last night via Twitter after the story began to spread, but that didn’t stop many from taking him to the woodshed. Meanwhile, some people, including the beloved Louis C.K., voiced support for Tosh and every comedian’s right to tell rape jokes.
So who’s right? Well, I think both sides have valid points here. First off, his standup material aside, Tosh reacted in an impossibly stupid and reckless way to criticism of his act. And I agree that rape, as well as all the other gazillion f*cked up things in life, should be fair game when it comes to finding humor in them. Laughter is the best remedy for emotional pain, after all.
But here’s the thing: Daniel Tosh should not be telling rape jokes EVER. Why? Because he still looks and acts like the guy at the frat house you’d go to if you wanted to obtain whatever it is a person needs to roofie someone, that’s why. I defy anyone to watch five minutes of Daniel Tosh’s show and not come away thinking that the guy could potentially date rape their sister.
Bottom line: nothing is off limits in the hands of a skilled comedian. Comics like Daniel Tosh who resemble date rapists, however, should refrain from telling rape jokes. Period.