Splitsider

Monday, July 16th, 2012

What Tosh-Gate Says about the State of Comedy Appreciation and Criticism (Some of It Is Good!)

When the Daniel Tosh firestorm started my initial reaction was to shrug and say "who cares?" It was a comedian making an off-hand offensive joke not on television, not on a CD, but to a live audience. The jokes weren't great and they weren't in any way PC, but I felt like they were a non-issue; I had seen many comedians say worse things to hecklers. (I thought it was much worse when he encouraged his fans to “Lightly Touch Women's Stomachs While They're Sitting Down.”)

But then it became a discussion that was being had everywhere by comedians and non-comedians alike, and I started looking at the situation differently. I realized much of tension that has come up between comedians and those writing about this stemmed from comedy not used to being criticized this way. This both means it's not used to capital-C Criticism, like that has existed for other art forms for centuries, and it's not used to this scale of people caring about it.

"Comedy is subjective" was thrown around a lot last week. Well, guess what: all art is subjective and always has been. Critics are the people whose subjective opinion we as a culture allow to speak for more than themselves. Comedy, especially live comedy (people obviously have been reviewing comedic films), has lacked specific critics until very recently. Instead of critics, there was the audience. It was up to the audience at that given moment to decide if a joke was good and they did so in a very clear way: they laughed. It was pretty simple: no laughs indicated a bad joke, small laughs indicated an OK joke, and big laughs indicated a good joke. In that capacity, the more people a comedian could make laugh, the better comedian he or she was.

As a result, the only people that were really tastemakers were people in the position to book comedians. Most notably Johnny Carson could be considered a critic insomuch as his subjective taste became an agreed upon as a standard. And Johnny loved great comedians — Jerry Seinfeld, also Ellen Degeneres, Andy Kaufman, Garry Shandling — and he loved Jeff Dunham. (He LOVED Jeff Dunham.)

Ultimately, the only people who dissected comedy en masse were comedians. I imagine no non-comedian said the phrase "joke structure" until the 90s. One can argue it wasn't until Seinfeld that on a large scale we heard someone talk about comedy in terms of something beyond what makes you personally laugh; the character of Banya represented "bad comedy" as a specific and different thing from just unfunny comedy. Arguably at that time comedy was still seen as a lowbrow art, so by clarifying this distinction, we started towards a mass critical look at it as an art form. Similarly, rock n' roll wasn't talked about in the same terms as classical music, so magazines like Rolling Stone were created to do so. Then those previously high-minded publications adjusted and began talking about The Beatles in the same conversation as Bach. Criticism, at its best, contextualizes a piece in the history of the form and art in general. Comedy has not had that happen on that scale, until VERY recently.

Splitsider is currently one of the three largish comedy-related websites. There's also Huffington Post Comedy and Laughspin. All three primarily focus on two main functions: reporting on comedy-related news and celebrating great comedy. The primary indication that comedy is bad is omission. This also seems to be the case when comedy bleeds into broader publications. Jason Zinoman is the New York Times' first person to write a bi-weekly column on comedy and mostly he's used it to shine a light on comedians, comedies, or comedic trends that have probably eluded the Times audience. He doesn't write a column about how he thinks a recently comedy special represents a step backward in someone's art. (For example: I don't think I saw anyone anywhere say the simple statement that Louis CK's last special was very good but probably the worst of his recent output.) No one really writes anything negative and long about stand-up, excluding things like people using their personal blog to shit on Dane Cook or something along those lines.

And if we do write something even slightly negative, comedians aren't particularly cool with it. In conversation, a widely-published critic told me of a comedian who called him (CALLED HIM! Like on the phone!) the day after a negative write-up. A certain podcaster tweeted at a fellow writer when a positive paragraph he wrote alluded to a less-than-desirable part of his show. Personally, I've had a couple of comedians publically or privately voice complaints. This is not to say that comedians should love people saying negative things about them, because who would? People saying negative things sucks regardless if it’s a commenter or a New York Times writer. It's more that they can't believe it exists — they’ve been getting laughs and that's the only feedback they planned on receiving. Other artists understand that negative criticism is part of the territory and smartly do their best to avoid reading it.

My problem with the Tosh fallout was that it felt like many people were just lashing out at him because he's not a good comedian. What makes Louis C.K.'s rape jokes not offensive and Tosh's offensive? Ultimately, Louis' jokes were better because he is a better comedian. For Tosh to become a better comedian, to tell better jokes (rape and otherwise), he needs to keep on working on his craft, which is what he was doing when he delivered the much-discussed jokes. Comedy is different from other art forms in that you have to be bad in public. You might start off by writing shitty songs, but you don't have to play them in front of people — you can wait until your songs are less shitty. But comedians need to tell shitty jokes to figure out what jokes are not shitty. And if you are a comedian who says borderline-offensive things on stage — be it Daniel Tosh or Tracy Morgan — you have to push the audience to see where that border is between funny and offensive. It's not too different from observational comedians who have to find that sweet spot between a unique observation and a relatable one. The difference is "edgy" comedians are flying closer to the sun. If a comedian goes "Have you ever noticed that all orange soda makes you think of West Virginia," no one will laugh because that is completely unrelatable and that will be the end of it. But if a comedian goes: "Have you ever noticed that orange soda makes you think of the time you raped a girl in college," the reaction will be different. And it should be different. These comedians have decided to play with fire, with something that can really hurt people and if it doesn't work, they will probably hurt someone.

It was a point perfectly made in Lindy West's excellent piece on Jezebel:

"And the flip-side of that awesome microphone power you have—wow, you can seriously say whatever you want!—is that audiences get to react to your words however we want. The defensive refrains currently echoing around the internet are, "You just don't get it—comedians need freedomThat's how comedy gets madeIf you don't want to be offendedthen stay out of comedy clubs." You're exactly right. That is how comedy gets made. So CONSIDER THIS YOUR FUCKING FEEDBACK. Ninety percent of your rape material is not working, and you can tell it's not working because your audience is telling you that they hate those jokes. This is the feedback you asked for."

Ultimately, free speech goes both ways. Comedians are free to tell whatever jokes they want and people are free to write about them (they shouldn't heckle or do anything resembling heckling, however).

So, was the conversation about Daniel Tosh's rape jokes blown out of proportion? It's hard to say. They were very bad jokes and Daniel Tosh is a very big comedian. Think about how much people talk about when very large actors or directors make really bad movies. (People will forever talk about how awful Godfather III was.) Every joke a comedian makes should obviously not be analyzed on the scale of a blockbuster film, but some might be when they represent a growing negative trend. The conversation about Daniel Tosh's rape jokes was not a conversation about Daniel Tosh, it was a conversation about rape jokes as they represent a variety of issues in comedy: free speech vs. responsible speech, misogyny, the power of language, the relationship between the artist and their audience, and so on. Maybe it wasn't blown out of proportion because this is now the proportion at which comedy is discussed. And maybe that's a good thing.

This dust up can be seen as a reflection of society's newly impassioned view of comedy as an art form and comedians as artists. Through the Internet's unifying of comedy nerd culture, podcasts, and the huge and varied opportunities given to comedians on cable, comedy has reached the point where people really care about it in a way that goes beyond entertainment. Like never before to this scale, comedy is being put on a pedestal as something important, meaningful, and representative of the state of the world, and comedians are being seen as more than some schmo clown; they're philosophers, poets, truthsayers. And when it works, like it has for Louis CK recently, your art is talked about in the same publications, and with the same gravitas, as those whose work hangs in MOMA or the Smithsonian. And when it doesn't, well, people will also talk about it.

Comedians should and will continue to be able to tell awful, offensive jokes; they must just accept that the times have changed. A joke can get you inundated with backlash or get you into the New Yorker. This is distinctly different from when comedians were being arrested for cursing and obscenity — no one is saying Daniel Tosh should be prosecuted for his jokes. He still has two TV shows. It's more about the sanctity of the craft. And that's where I disagreed with the aforementioned Jezebel piece, when she said: "a comedy club is not some sacred space." It is. It is in the way a rock concert can be for some people or a temple/church/mosque could be for others. Comedians, you're no longer Rodney Dangerfields — you can get respect. So, the question is: What are you going to do with it?

Jesse David Fox is a writer, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. He LOVES comedy and he LOVES criticism.

  • Slutface

    Loved this. Very well written.

  • Itsonreserve

    Loved this.

    To speak to maybe the difference between Louis or another comedian doing a rape joke and the versions of Tosh's "joke" that came out, I think people who would normally be in Louis's corner would do so because, as Lindy West also put in her article, the way he says things or the way he structures his material is to laugh and then think why or to be taken to the deepest gross parts of your brain and think about what it says about us.  In the Tosh incident (her version admits to heckling, the club owner's says she yelled out when he asked for audience response) I think many female fans of comedy saw singling this woman out with the mention of rape as a safety issue: presumably many fans of his in attendence had been the very same young men who defended his right to encourage others to touch women without their consent.  At least for me and some of my friends that was what upset us, as I would feel completely terrified in that situation no matter the comedian (you just never know who could be in the audience or what they could be thinking) let alone Daniel Tosh.

  • Hack McWriter

    Great, thoughtful piece, but this…"No one really writes anything negative and long about stand-up, excluding things like people using their personal blog to shit on Dane Cook or something along those lines."
    …isn't true, and here's why:
    http://www.thespittake.com/

  • Slashie

    The thing is, lots of people DO think Louie CK's rape jokes are a problem. It's just that nobody listens, because he's the President of Comedy. Men who love rape jokes, who think rape is not a big deal and nothing but an "edgy" topic to show off with and that they couldn't possibly ever be in a room with a rape victim who's reliving her trauma with every word he says, or with a rapist who's listening to the laughter and reassuring himself that see, nobody REALLY thinks rape is a big deal, those men refuse to be convinced even one-on-one by their close friends. If they won't let a "hey that's not cool" stick they're sure as hell not going to allow anyone to criticize their idols.

    That's exactly why it takes more than quiet dissent. In this case, heckling IS justified, because sometimes making a point is more important than not interrupting the privileged man's good time. Heckle every rape joke. Heckle racism. Heckle misogyny. People in power – and believe me, in comedy straight white men like Tosh and CK hold ALL the power – never change until they are forced to. Give them their fucking feedback.

    • http://twitter.com/jessmstephens Jessica Stephens

      I think you're very right both that something that's offensive is offensive no matter who says it and that we're very arbitrary about how we direct our collective outrage. I've seen comedians post things like, "If Anthony Jesselnik's rape jokes don't offend you, why do Tosh's?," and that's completely based on the assumption that people bothered by this rape joke have never been bothered by any other rape joke, which really doesn't give your audience credit. But if Louis CK had used the exact words Daniel Tosh is accused of saying and linked to a blog post someone wrote talking about it, would people react to the situation the same way? Obviously, no one knows, but considering I'm the only Liberally McLiberalson I know whose head isn't permanently affixed to the inside of Louis CK's butthole, I'm guessing some of the people outraged at Tosh would be willing to give Louis CK a pass. And I think Jesse David Fox made a good point when he asked if it's possible people are more outraged by what Tosh (supposedly) said because they're not fans of his in the first place. (I also think he's also right that the campaign to get people to touch women on their stomachs was worse because he was encouraging people to touch women who didn't want to be touched and to make sure they were uncomfortable. Obviously, that's not rape, but it's sure as fuck on the rape spectrum.)

      However, I wouldn't consider Louis CK's rape jokes the same as Tosh's (though you could be referring to Louis CK jokes I don't know about. I didn't go on YouTube and make sure I watched every joke he told about rape). For example, his "rape is OK when you want to fuck somebody who doesn't want to fuck you" joke could be interpreted as being casual about the reality that, holy fuck, some people think that way, if you only saw that joke written down. But to hear his delivery, I don't see how anyone could mistake that for a defense of rape rather than a mockery of that mentality. And I actually love the "You mean you wanted me to rape you?!?" joke he told about a waitress he made out with who the next night wanted to know why he stopped when she took his hands off her, then told him she had wanted him to force himself on her, but didn't want to have to tell him so. Again, I don't see how you could interpret that joke as condoning rape; he was addressing the fact that in sexual situations, the worst thing you can do is assume certain boundaries don't exist. My point is that even though rape is never funny, it's a reality in our culture, and thoughtful jokes can be a disarming way of commenting on what's OK and what isn't. I don't love Louis CK, but I thought that joke about the waitress is a great example of a rape joke done right. But again, I don't know all his jokes, so we could be thinking of different examples.

      And lastly, you are a thousand percent right that privileged white guys hold all the power, but I'm kind of curious about what you mean by heckling them. Regardless of what Tosh said on the stage that night, when that woman shouted at him, he was still the one on stage and he was the one holding the microphone. I'm all for speaking up, but this woman did it in a no-win situation. There are places to have conversations about social justice, but I don't know that in the middle of a comedy routine is one of them. I just think it would be interesting to hear more about what you mean about your last few sentences.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ted.pallas TJ Pallas

        I think I know what she's getting at.  That Chinese man probably shouldn't have stood in front of that tank that morning, Solzhenitsyn probably shouldn't have published "the Gulag Archipelago" in 1969 Soviet Russia, etc, but they did, and the world is better for it.  To bring it current – in Mexico drug cartels have a lot of power, and murder journalists who report on their activities.  That's also a no-win situation.  This might seem a bit dramatic, but protest generally only arises out of no-win situations.  If "we" were winning, it wouldn't be protest.

        There's no such thing as a wrong place to react strongly to things like rape.  (Sidenote: Rape, like racism or gender discrimination, is one of those things that is just Bad.  There's no painting it as Not Bad, nevermind "Good.")  As a straight white man who faces no threat from rape, let me go on the record as stating that my peers – other straight white men who face no threat from rape – have no idea what they're talking about when they make a rape joke.  It takes less than you'd think to relive it – someone very close to me relives her experience every time she sleeps in a house with a man she didn't grow up with, even if they're on different floors.  With that in mind – bringing up rape in a way that's not only not what we'd traditionally call a 'joke' (from my understanding, he said something along the lines of "raping her would be funny to me right now") but a threat (as you mentioned, he was gripping that Talking Stick) speaks not only to the fact that the speaker is a jackass, but also a terrible human being, because we all agree rape is a thing only terrible human beings do.

        So, yes, stand the fuck up and tell that Viacom-sponsored slice of patriarchy exactly what you think of his rape joke, if you have the courage to do so.

        And now some less-informed opinion, as I'm not a Comedy Guy in the same sense as y'all:

        To me, Louis CK and Tosh are different because of how they got where they are.  Louis CK's career isn't so different from that of Philip Glass – lots of practice, pedagogy, and work.  Mostly work.  Tosh, on the other hand, seems to have come up really quickly, maybe because some folks in charge of a network knew he'd print money – I might be off-base, but that seems like a good bet.

        So, yeah, when Louis CK makes a rape joke after 22 years of honing his craft by constantly working towards Finer Comedy it's something I'm open to hearing – we're in the hands of an Maestro, so I'm open to it.  Tosh, on the other hand, is still hammering away at that career.  His rape jokes aren't in the same league as Louis CK's – they're dumber, with a less finely-honed sense of craft – and so they're judged by a different criteria.  This same corner of the Internet that is bugging out over this also subscribes to the belief that different burgers have different values, and they're one-hundred percent correct.  Dumont > McDonald's.

      • http://twitter.com/jessmstephens Jessica Stephens

        Trust me, TJ, I'm all for upending patriarchy. But it seems that historically, more people have had success with making a difference when they join together and make calculated moves (I'm thinking in terms of the Civil Rights Movement and getting women the vote in the U.S. and other countries). It's not that I think you should just ignore it when someone says or does something prejudiced, but if you don't put some thought into your reactions in those situations, you're giving people an excuse not to listen.

        For example, in the Tosh situation, I think there's more than one discussion going on (that we don't know for sure what Tosh and the heckler said, whether rape jokes can be sensitive when they're poking fun at rape culture instead of rape victims), and some people on both sides conflate one argument for the other. So some people might react to a tweet or comment saying, "Hey, we don't know for sure that Daniel Tosh said it would be hilarious if five guys raped that heckler," with "Are you defending rape jokes?" In those people's minds, they might think they're fighting rape culture, but calling every defense of Tosh a defense of rape jokes only gives credence to the "People are just overly emotional! They're just looking for an excuse to get outraged!" set that pops up with every situation like this, and the thought of giving those people any credence makes me want to punch myself in the ovaries. So even though you say there's no such thing as a wrong place to react strongly to rape, there's a wrong situation: When you haven't thought critically about what the other person has said and what you want to say. If you can't do those things, every conversation about this and any other social justice discussion is just going to devolve into the same recycled arguments, and that doesn't accomplish anything.

        And I think you've touched on something important about the reality of rape. One in four women are raped, but four in four women are threatened with the prospect of rape, and that's not a laughing matter. It sucks that multiple times a day, every woman has to go through the thought process of figuring out if some man standing near her is going to rape her. That sucks for men and for women because every interaction shouldn't have to be informed by that fear. But that's why I disagree with your saying that Louis CK's jokes are different from Tosh's because he's spent more time honing his craft. If a guy says, "Wouldn't it be funny if, like, five guys raped that girl right now?," I'm not going to think to myself, "It's OK, he worked hard to get to where he is." My point is, who cares what the comedian's bio is? No one's going to read a comedian's biography just to see if he or she meant a joke.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ted.pallas TJ Pallas

        The Splitsider comment-system has me putting this somewhere weird…

        Anyway – you're right, there are too many conversations.  So you know why I'm specifically bummed – As I understand it, after the heckler heckled, he continued his old joke ("everything is funny," I think) by spinning it into "raping her right now would be funny."  Right there, in that moment, he transitioned from talking about hypothetical terrible things, and made it real by directing it towards an individual in the room.  Tosh is a celebrity, and he packs Mad Whuffie – it's inexcusable for him to use it in that fashion.  Similarly, nobody can say "lynch him because he's black" in a context that uses lynch as a term of ridicule and not horror – that's simply Fucked Up.  I think that all of this energy and dialogue is also the exactly correct response – it attracts attention, slaps wrists, and lets itself be known without needing to invoke a censor.  This probably won't be an issue again – his account manager at Comedy Central wants to see him book shows, so they can sell adspace – he jeopardized that once, and won't get a second chance, if I had to put money on it.

        I disagree 120% about "protest is only effective when it's moving in concert with itself," especially when we're looking at an issue that's as bipolar as gender.  Men have all of the power, including in protest movements.  Look at this heckler – she stood up, and now a lot of people are talking about rape in a way that is incredibly blunt and extremely effective at communicating what's happening.  Without Tosh and the Heckler this week's Web cycle probably wouldn't have included so much dialogue PERIOD, never mind about something as taboo as rape.  One person standing up led to two people talking, which led to an outraged blog post, which has taken us here, to a place where I'm discussing rape's place in live performance with a stranger.  I'd put that one in the "Really Effective, Remember this Recipe" file.

      • http://twitter.com/jessmstephens Jessica Stephens

        But TJ, I don't think it's the outraged blog post that's brought us here; I think it's the fact that Tosh linked to the blog in a tweet. How likely do you think it is that any of us would have heard about this incident in the first place otherwise? It sucks for sure that we heard about it because Tosh had enough of a conscience to apologize in a very public way, but the fact is this made the news because a privileged white guy acknowledged that at least something happened.

        I'm not saying people shouldn't address sexism or point it out. I just honestly don't think there are any situations where one person spoke up on a whim and made a huge difference. Think Rosa Parks (I know we're both getting a little overdramatic with the examples here, but both of us get we're not putting heckling Daniel Tosh on the same level as Tiananmen Square or setting the Civil Rights Movement in motion). A shit ton of black women sat in the front of segregated buses and got arrested before her, but when she did it, it got attention because it was a calculated move from a group of people who knew how to use her arrest as a galvanizing event. Yeah, she's one person who made a difference, but she and others planned her move. When it comes to speaking up about social injustice, I'm not saying you shouldn't speak up, but you should take a moment to step back, figure out what specifically is problematic about the message you're protesting, and consider whether what you're saying or doing is the best thing in that situation. If you don't do that, people can tell, and you're giving them an excuse not to take you seriously. I don't think we're in disagreement about speaking up, but if you can't take the time to really think about what you're saying first, how much more worth listening to is your message than the one you're protesting?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000706755353 Cody Melcher

    Thank you! Someone finally mentions the "lightly touching women's stomachs" thing. I've been saying that this whole time.

  • JoshUng

    Good write up!  Though, I think the "who" has a bigger role in it than you think.  I mentioned in another comment, how Bill Hicks had a "classic" response to a heckler in many people eyes. His response to to the woman (http://splitsider.com/2011/03/eight-types-of-hecklers-and-the-comedians-who-shut-them-up/) may not have mentioned rape, but he was definitely more antagonistic to the audience member than most accounts I've read accused Tosh of being to the woman in this story.

    The first part of the Tosh joke (about rape always being funny) I don't think was that bad, because clearly the joke was about how ridiculous a statement like that is.  The second part, well, I don't think Tosh mean to imply that the woman should be raped at all, but responding to hecklers (depending on what account happened, whether she interrupted, or her comment was in response to Tosh asking what they wanted to talk about and she was against the audience suggestion of rape) comedians generally just want to shut the person up.  And whether it was their intention or not, the comment loses its "joke" value and goes into being mean, which can be bad enough when it goes from a fat joke to a "fat" insult, and becomes an internet shitstorm when you substitue "fat" with "rape."

    • http://twitter.com/megh_wright Megh Wright

      I think it's worth noting that the Ari Shaffir clip I included in that article was the exact same thing as this whole Tosh thing — Shaffir tells his heckler he hopes she gets raped. I was always surprised that didn't get more commenter outrage. I guess because he's not as famous as Tosh, it's not as offensive or something?

      • http://twitter.com/jessmstephens Jessica Stephens

        I'm guessing the fact that Tosh himself linked to the blog post on Twitter has a lot to do with why this was such a big story. If he hadn't done that, can you imagine anyone even talking about it?

  • http://twitter.com/HunterBoyette Hunter Boyette

    I think there shouldn't even be an argument because not enough info is known. No one has posted the actual joke he attempted to tell. Just the set up. I recall George Carlin starting off a joke by saying "Rape can be funny" and he finished it. It was a great joke. Maybe we should be able to know what the joke was before we write self-righteous blog posts. I'm not saying what he did was right or wrong, because I don't have enough information to make a judgement, and even then, it's none of my business.

  • KevinDougherty

    "I don't think I saw anyone anywhere say the simple statement that Louis
    CK's last special was very good but probably the worst of his recent
    output."

    Check your ego. No one really believes that and it's irrelevant.

  • landsurveyork

    The problem with this this critical lens is that a lot of comedians work out material in showcase clubs, where they're paid by very little in exchange for low stakes stage time.   You don't review a play in previews… so to judge a comics act while he's still working on it seems unfair.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LaCieca La Cieca

    I'm going to take exception to what you say about "Lindy West's excellent piece on Jezebel," and I'm not even talking about the oxymoron angle. She presumes to define what Tosh's audience is (and, even more arrogantly) what the audience is for comedy as a whole, and then decrees (in all caps, so you know it must be true) that the "rape material" is not working.

    Well, in fact, it appears from what we can tell that even the throwaway comeback in Tosh's act worked just fine: it got a big laugh and it shut up a heckler. That's what the line was meant to do. I seriously doubt that in crafting that bit Tosh was thinking, "now, let me come up with a one-liner that, even when quoted out of context, is guaranteed to amuse the readers of Jezebel." To apply such a standard to comedy is absurdity that would border on sheer idiocy if it were not so disingenuous.

    What this is about is not comedy really; rather, it's about how eager some people are to get their  prejudices reinforced by a single anonymous denunciation published on some nobody's Tumblr.

    • http://twitter.com/jessmstephens Jessica Stephens

      You left out that she sounds like a ninth grader trying to be funny in her school newspaper. If by "oxymoron angle," you mean that Jezebel has devolved into a steaming pile of suck, I'm not going to disagree with you, and I also agree that little of the criticism of Tosh is coming from people who liked him in the first place. But Tosh has a big following, and some social-justice-minded people can surprise you with their taste in comedy, so it's not impossible that at least SOME of this criticism is coming from people who watch and like his show. When Lindy West wrote "This is your fucking feedback," she wasn't specific. The "this" might have meant the article itself, in which case, you're right; she's not in Tosh's demographic. But "this" also could have been referring to the shitstorm as a whole, which probably contains at least a few people who like Tosh and don't like how he handled this situation. And I think your last sentence is true, but it's not true of all people. Others have used it as a jumping off point to have a discussion about rape jokes that was necessary.

  • Chip Chipperson

    I think anyone who complains about the content of any joke told at a comedy club is missing the point. They are jokes. Get the fuck over it. Also, the girl was a heckler, hecklers deserve to be treated shitty. It's not your comedy show and you don't have the right to not be offended. If you are, get up and leave and don't support that comedian/artist anymore. There, you've done your part. You do not get to interrupt the show and scream whatever you want at the stage because you don't like it, you wouldn't have this sort of behavior at a play, why would you have it at a comedy club? 

    There are plenty of plays and movies that talk about rape and you never see this huge outrage in the media over it and you certainly never see any hecklers screaming at the stage during the 2nd act of a play. I wish Tosh would have just ignored all this backlash because the same ridiculous people that are outraged at this would have moved on very quickly had their little cause of the week not been mentioned over and over.

  • NSH

    Yes, at a certain point, comics have to be on stage to edit their stuff but the thing is they make us pay for the privilege of watching them test material out. It isn't as if we all get coupons for the night the show is better. No. our money went to crap and the comic knows it. So yes, people will not simply sit politely while you test things out and go home and not judge.  They will make it clear that you wasted their money. If you don't like this, then don't make us pay for it. 

  • jb

    I love how women get offended even ones that werent raped its a joke get over it if youre offended by jokes that push the boundaries of comedy than maybe you should just stick to larry the cable guy or bill engvall