Are you aware of Daniel Tosh, who hosts a sort of viral-video version of The Soup on Comedy Central called Tosh.0 and is much-beloved on certain corners of the internet? His schtick is, basically, "being a huge asshole," both in a general way and in a racist or classist or sexist way. Some people think he is hilarious (they are wrong) and some people think he is really grating and unfunny and difficult to watch (they are right). You can watch his classic joke about the hypothetical rape of his sister in this video.
Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that there's a line out there, when it comes to what you can get away with as a comedian — just ask Michael Richards! — and it sounds like Tosh crossed it on Friday night. Here's a post from a Tumblr called Cookies for Breakfast about how to make Dane Cook look like a sensitive and politically-correct comic genius:
This is something that happened to a friend of mine in her own words.
"So, on Friday night my friend and I were at her house and wanted to get out and do something for the evening. We brainstormed ideas and she brought up the idea of seeing a show at the Laugh Factory. I'd never been, I thought it sounded fun, so we went. We saw that Dane Cook, along some other names we didn't recognize we're playing, and while we both agree that Cook's style is not really our taste we were opened-minded about what the others had to offer. And we figured even good ol' Dane can be funny sometimes, even if it's not really our thing. Anyhoo, his act was actually fine, but then when his was done, some other guy I didn't recognize took the stage. Of course, I would find out later this was Daniel Tosh, but at the time I thought he was just some yahoo who somehow got a gig going on after Cook. I honestly thought he was an amateur because he didn't seem that comfortable on stage and seemed to have a really awkward presence.
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 in the lobby, I spoke with the girl at the will-call desk, and demanded to see the manager. The manager on duty quickly came out to speak with me, and she was profusely apologetic, and seemed genuinely sorry about what had happened, but of course we received no refund for our tickets, but instead a comped pair of tickets, although she admitted she understood if we never wanted to come back. I can imagine the Laugh Factory doesn't really have a policy in place for what happens when a woman has to leave in a hurry because the person onstage is hurling violent words about sexual violence at her. Although maybe I'm not the first girl to have that happen to her.
I should probably add that having to basically flee while Tosh was enthusing about how hilarious it would be if I was gang-raped in that small, claustrophic room was pretty viscerally terrifying and threatening all the same, even if the actual scenario was unlikely to take place. The suggestion of it is violent enough and was meant to put me in my place."
Tosh acknowledged the post, which went viral on Tumblr today, and and "sincerely apologize[d]" on Twitter. He was apparently making some kind of philosophical point about The Nature of Humor, or whatever?
all the out of context misquotes aside, i'd like to sincerely apologize j.mp/PJ8bNs
— daniel tosh (@danieltosh) July 10, 2012
the point i was making before i was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them. #deadbabies
— daniel tosh (@danieltosh) July 10, 2012
Yes, you can make jokes about anything; those jokes still have to be funny, and not creepy and threatening. You can even deal with hecklers without threatening gang-rape!