Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Yes, Daniel Tosh Made Terrible Jokes

We haven't covered this Daniel Tosh rape joke thing because, frankly, neither Jesse nor I felt much like diving into it. It feels like the same old shit, and there's not a ton worth saying about it, so we decided to just ignore it and not give him or his dumb, gross jokes any more attention than they've already received. There's too much good comedy worth celebrating to dwell in that familiar outrage. But if you want a rundown of the whole situation, here's a pretty good one.

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  • J. Greene

    While I get the general idea of what you're saying here and agree, in principle, with anything that gets less people rather than more to pay attention to Daniel Tosh…

    The only way to change this kind of behavior is to consistently call it out as inappropriate. Tosh is probably a lost cause to decency and actual comedy, but that doesn't mean that we can't use this as an example of what not to do for up-and-coming comics.

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

      I agree with what you're saying, but I also understand what Jesse and Adam are saying about being tired of writing the same things. Any comments section or tweet you look at about this story is going to be an attack or defense that's been repeated ad infinitum. The same thing is true of the whole Adam Carolla thing a few weeks ago, which I think might be part of why a lot of people are looking at this situation and just don't feel like giving a fuck. I'm surprised at how many comedians I respect are sticking up for him, but other than that, the reaction to this has been pretty predictable. I believe you're right that there's value in saying an action is inappropriate, but that doesn't mean they have to follow a post about how Daniel Tosh told a rape joke with a rehash of every argument against rape jokes. If you're the kind of person who thinks those jokes are hilarious, it's certainly not because you don't have access to people willing to argue against the point.

  • carson1

    I'm no fan of Daniel Tosh, but if you're going to vilify him for his "dumb, gross jokes" shouldn't we extend that same kind of attitude for similarly "ribald" comics like, oh, I don't know, Louis CK or Anthony Jeselnik? There may be a greater level of irony in the delivery (at least in Jeselnik's case), but on paper, the words read very similarly.

    I personally believe comics should be allowed to mine any avenue they want in search of comedy. I'll applaud them when it's funny and I'll let it slide and chalk it up to a missed attempt when it isn't. That said, I am becoming increasingly bored with comics who use "shocking" topics like rape, the Holocaust or 9/11 as a punchline in and of themselves. It seems like a cheap way to be edgy.

    • http://twitter.com/frucci Adam Frucci

      I certainly am not saying he shouldn't be allowed to make whatever jokes he wants. He can make rape jokes all day, that's up to him and nobody should tell him he can't. But just because he's a comedian doesn't mean he can't be criticized for said jokes if people don't like them. I just find the whole argument to be exhausting and of little value. 

      • carson1

        Also, I do agree that the fallout of this has been tired and predictable and that it's probably for the best that everyone just moves on as fast as possible.

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

      Carson, you're right that if people are offended by one comedian's rape joke, they should be offended by them all (or at least have an idea of why THIS rape joke is OK and another one isn't), but I've seen other people make this argument (Kumail Nanjiani tweeted it a while ago), and I don't think it's fair to assume the people offended by Daniel Tosh's joke aren't offended by the same jokes from other people. Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress has argued that rape jokes can be funny if they're making fun of the rapist, and I think sometimes you can make the argument that a joke referenced rape, but wasn't about it (A good example is the SNL Greek God sketch from when Charlie Day hosted. The characters would joke about having sex that wasn't consensual, but I saw that as making fun of how prevalent interspecies rape is in Greek mythology, not a joke about how rape is hilarious). My point is that people saying this joke was offensive aren't necessarily pointing and yelling, "HE SAID THE WORD RAPE! HOW DARE HE?"

      And comics ARE allowed to mine whatever topic they want for comedy. So are us mere mortals. But nobody's above accountability, or at least scrutiny, for what they say. Think about it: You said that a lot of comics are intentionally bringing up provocative topics as a low-effort way to seem edgy, and I agree. Are we saying comedians aren't allowed to do that? No. We're saying comedians aren't above scrutiny for doing that.

  • carson1

    My question is, are we disapproving of this situation because we are disapproving of Daniel Tosh the person? If this were Louis CK (and honestly, it could have been), would the reaction on here be any different? If so, why? If not, well, then I guess there's nothing to see here then.

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

      There probably are people basing their opinion on what they already thought of Daniel Tosh instead of solely on his actions (if we do that to politicians, why wouldn't we do it to comedians?), but other than making sure you aren't one of those people, what are you going to do? There's always value in looking at WHY you react to things a certain way, and you're pretty much a douchebag if you never question your own perceptions, but believe it or not, there's a lot of douchebags out there. (See the comment above yours for verification.)

  • Mike

    People who have nothing better to do than cry about shock comedy bits are douchebags and should be raped by a hoarde of angry Vikings. It is supposed to be inappropriate. That's the goddamn point. Bitch, go watch bill Cosby reruns before I rape you myself.

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

      You're right. People who have nothing better to do than cry about shock comedy bits are so much worse than people who have nothing better to do than cry about people who have nothing better to do than cry about shock comedy bits.

    • carson1

      I actually will go watch some Bill Cosby reruns. Thanks for the advice!

  • Aunt Agonist

    I think it's missing the entire point to think that this is a controversy about rape jokes. This is not about that at all – it's about how he handled a heckler.

    The bottom line is that this
    dude made some offensive jokes, and got heckled for it. From here he
    had multiple options, one including apologizing, one including shutting
    her, a “heckler,” down in many ways, but he chose a hateful, violent,
    terrifying, triggering, rape-culture supporting way to do so.

  • JoshUng

    I actually never bought into the "comedians should have a wide berth" argument.  If it's not okay to say, its just not okay to say.


    I think the sentiment is a whole lot more important than the actual words used.  I don't think a reasonable person would think that Tosh was pro-rape, or defending rapists, nor was he seriously wishing that audience member would get raped.

    Before he got heckled, he joke was basically "this is an inappropriate thing to say."  You could substitute rape with "ethnic cleansing."  The joke is the same.

    I don't buy that people's feelings about Tosh isn't at least part of the cause of the outrage.  Bill Hicks basically calls a heckler a bitch and a cunt, but, he's Bill Hicks, so that's okay?

  • Brian H

    They are in a comedy club, context plays a big part in this. If you told a woman on the street that you want her to be gang banged by five guys you would be way out of bounds. In the context of a comedy club plus it being a response to a heckler then it's really a non-issue. Heckler response is usually brutal so this is really par for the course.