So, Daniel Tosh, a terminally unfunny comedian whose basic cable show consists of poking third-grade-level fun at people in random YouTube videos, apparently has a thing for rape jokes – and responding to a protestor by turning her into a punchline about gang-rape. To be fair, though, no-one of taste or relevance has ever found Daniel Tosh to be remotely humorous or respectable, so his disgrace is approximately on par with Gallagher’s famous flame-out a couple years back. Nothing of value was lost. (Tosh did offer a borderline notpology on Twitter, which hardly makes up for his blatant lack of a decency filter in the first place.)
Unfortunately, other comedians – real and respected ones – have been quick to jump on the excuse train, apparently sensing that one of their fellows had the boot of the PC feminist police on his windpipe. Here are all the stars of comedy who think that joking about a lone woman being gang-raped in the middle of a laughing audience is not just tolerable, but, like, totally cool:
@danieltosh your show makes me laugh every time I watch it.And you have pretty eyes.— Louis C.K. (@louisck) July 11, 2012
People should be vocally supporting @DanielTosh. Why is ok for an actor to play a rapist, but not for a comic to joke about it?— Jim Norton (@JimNorton) July 11, 2012
Some attention-seeking woman heckled a comedian, so if anything, she owes him an apology for being a rude brat. #SayYoureSorryToots— Jim Norton (@JimNorton) July 11, 2012
Wow, @danieltosh had to apologize to a self-aggrandizing, idiotic blogger.Hope I never have to do that (again).— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) July 11, 2012
If you journey through this life easily offended by other peoples words I think it's best for everyone if you just kill yourself.— Dane Cook (@danecook) July 11, 2012
An offended audience member repeating a comedian's act from memory is worse than, literally, anything.— Anthony Jeselnik (@anthonyjeselnik) July 11, 2012
This Daniel Tosh rape joke controversy really has me second guessing some of my rapes.— Anthony Jeselnik (@anthonyjeselnik) July 11, 2012
To all the idiots! I completely support Daniel Tosh being a comic in a comedy club! Even if it means rape jokes! @danieltosh— opie radio (@OpieRadio) July 11, 2012
calm down about rape jokes everyone's been raped at least once by george lucas— Sarah Beattie (@nachosarah) July 11, 2012
Granted, this sort of a response is expected from pricks like Jim Norton and Dane Cook, but Patton Oswalt? Even Louis CK? It’s a fucking disease.
Look, I’m one who believes that humor is inherently a vague and overbroad concept and that, by default, there is nothing that can’t or shouldn’t ever be joked about, no matter how sensitive or controversial. Humor is less about the subject matter and almost entirely about the construction and presentation. The only real limiting factor, other than the mindset of a given audience, is comedic talent. That’s essentially entire raison d’être of the notorious Aristocrats joke, after all – that nothing is inherently off-limits, regardless of how dark, gruesome or disturbing it may be. I don’t like rape jokes, myself, but I can’t muster any anger at anyone else who laughs at the occasional one without being a hypocrite. That’s just the subjective nature of humor. Context is everything.
But there is nonetheless a very clear and unmistakable line between constructing or presenting a joke, even a bad or offensive one, and going beyond comedy to turn real people into targets of vicious attacks under the guise of humor. Hecklers may be annoying, but that doesn’t automatically make them wrong. Protestors do occasionally have a point, even if it means speaking up in a comedy club during a humorist’s routine. And whatever people may think of that woman who voiced her concerns, bringing up the horrors of real-life sexual assault and dumping it on her head just to shut her up isn’t merely stepping over that line of basic decency; it’s blasting across it so hard you transcend space-time itself and end up in another dimension, perhaps one where laughing at the idea of a concerned woman being sexually brutalized by a bunch of men is ever acceptable.
Shame on Tosh and his ass-kissing idiots. And especially shame on people like Oswalt, Louis CK, and anyone else who really should know better.