In Defense of Daniel Tosh’s Rape Joke
This week’s moment of national outrage came from Comedy Central host and stand-up comedian Daniel Tosh, who had the audacity to joke about rape. An anonymous blogger detailed her experience seeing Tosh at the Laugh Factory:
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…”
Then, as has become the national standard for Shocking Celebrity News, Twitter exploded with comments accusing Tosh of being anti-feminist and morally irresponsible.
The response of anyone who has ever seen a few moments of a Daniel Tosh performance? Uh, duh.
Tosh’s comedy is the kind of it’s-funny-cuz-it’s-LOUD-and-PROFANE humor that panders to mouth breathers, frat boys and girls with incredibly low self-esteem. He’s a bro who believes that every word that comes out of his mouth is a precious gift from the comedy gods and in return you should thank him by guffawing—even if it’s straight-up stupid or inaccurate. He definitely was the guy in high school who pulled the chair out from the quiet overweight kid and told the girl with braces and glasses that she was ugly.
His jokes are low-brow and tremendously unfunny and almost always offensive.
So, of course, Daniel Tosh made some jokes about rape. And, of course, he didn’t immediately turn around and apologize when an audience member fought back. (Though he did issue an apology on Twitter yesterday.)
Offending is Tosh’s entire shtick. In this clip, he jokes about hitting women, suicide, cheating on his girlfriend, Asian sex workers, statutory rape, sexual assault, obesity and eating disorders. He ends with, “Being an ugly woman is like being a man—you’re going to have to work.”
The guy makes his money from being an intolerant, abrasive jerk. The problem isn’t that he’s saying these things—though anyone with two brain cells to rub together should be offended by them. The problem is that Comedy Central gave him a pulpit from which to spew his idiocy.
Being pissed that Daniel Tosh made a rape joke at a comedy show is sort of like watching Real Time With Bill Maher and being pissed that he criticizes politicians. You get what you pay for. If you’re ignorant about what you’ve signed up to see, that’s not the comedian’s fault.