On twitter last night I saw comedian/actor Jay Mohr venting about how he hated it when comedians had to apologize for their jokes. He mentioned Tracy Morgan having to apologize as well as some other comics, and this all stemmed from Daniel Tosh's performance at a comedy club in which after making a rape joke, a woman expressed how she didn't think rape was funny, causing Tosh to do what Tosh does.
Anyone that has ever seen an episode of his show on Comedy Central "Tosh.0" knows exactly what is going to happen once a woman expresses that some people might not find the subject of rape a laughing matter. If you said that he'd then turn around and joke about HER being gang raped, then yes you definitely are the winner.
Here is the rundown of what happened from the offended party:
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”
I did it because, even though being “disruptive” is against my nature, I felt that sitting there and saying nothing, or leaving quietly, would have been against my values as a person and as a woman. I don’t sit there while someone tells me how I should feel about something as profound and damaging as rape.
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. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.
Now it's important to note that this is HER side of things and Tosh has claimed that he was "misquoted", but gave a non apology apology and I'm sure things will blow over soon enough. These things tend to do that. And there's a number of comedians who are defending him on twitter, most of them the predictable variety that would defend it, including Dane Cook who lovingly suggested that anyone who was offended at a comedian's joke to "Kill yourself". Perhaps he was trying to be ironic, I don't know.
Normally I think comics get a ton of leeway. Comedy is not polite. Good comedy almost never is. I think a comedy stage is essentially sacred territory, so to speak, where someone can go and speak their mind on things for the most part. There have been a few that have stepped out of bounds, in my opinion. I think when Michael Richards when on his racist tirade because he couldn't stand being heckled, that was clearly above and beyond any sense of reason. When Tracy Morgan started rambling about killing his son of he was gay, I thought THAT was over the line.
Do I think that Morgan would actually do that? No, of course not. But that doesn't mean it wasn't over the line into a special realm of offensiveness. Beyond the level that you normally would expect at a comic show.
As for Tosh I think that his history shows that he tends to lean towards shock comedy. Before his show on Comedy Central I kinda liked his act. I saw his Comedy Central special and it was funny. Ever since his show though he's latched on to this whole schtick where it's "what can I do that will be even more offensive than the last time? Oh I know, I'll tell a woman who's offended at rape jokes that it'd be hilarious if she got gang raped by five men sitting near her."
Contrary to some people's opinions I'm not a bleeding heart. However when it gets into the subject of rape, it's very touchy area. What if that woman happened to be a rape survivor? Would that have made a difference to him if he had known that before or after? Would that have made it any more or less alright?
Tosh has a tendency to push that line of decency far beyond simply speaking truth to power or just trying to be funny. There have been comics in the past who have worked dirty (or Blue as they say), but you rarely walked away thinking "well that's totally how that guy really is".
With Tosh, it's different. At least for me. Tosh comes off like he's 100% sincere on everything he says. So when he's showcasing videos featuring black people being the most vile and stereotypical that he can find online, and he's making racist jokes and whatnot, it doesn't seem like he's simply joking. He seems to be getting off on it.
He seems to be exactly like the persona that he has. Is he racist? I don't know but it sure as shit seems like it sometimes. One only has to watch the "Black History Month" episode to know what I mean. Virtually every single clip they showed (or maybe it was every other) was the most vile negative portrayal of black people. And yes he shows trailer trash white people as well, but it's never as vicious and visceral. Your opinions may vary on that, and he definitely has a lot of black fans.
I think the Tosh thing boils down to this though: Typically the comic stage is sacrosanct and should not be fucked with. If someone's offending you, get up and get the hell out. I'm a long time fan of comedy and understand that it is not pretty a lot of time. My favorite comic album to this day is Lenny Bruce's "Carnegie Hall" concert and I still listen to that all the time. There's plenty of social taboo breaking material in there, and he definitely wasn't a polite comic.
However if someone calls a comic on a deeply personal issue like this, I suppose being put on the spot can be rough but he needs to handle that in a different way. You can't address a woman who JUST SAID that she was offended at the idea of rape being funny, with suggesting that she be gang raped.
Whether he meant it or not is not the point here. But as I said before, Tosh has embraced the "shock comic" mentality and so he gets off on causing others to gasp and say "did he just...?"
So on that end complaining about him and asking him to apologize is a futile task because even if he does he'll give some halfass apology blaming you anyway, which he did in this case.
Then he'll go back to the Comedy Central set, and probably write some more Sandusky "Jokes" about raping children, and all will be forgiven.
This is America after all. He has free speech to say what he wants. But that doesn't mean that everyone else doesn't also have that very same free speech to let him know exactly what they think of that "humor".
But then again, that's just my thoughts on it.