On the scene since his birth on May 29, 1975, American comic, TV host, voice actor, writer, and executive producer Daniel Dwight Tosh have done it all. Tosh moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy after earning a degree in Marketing from the University of Central Florida. His career took off in 2001 after he appeared on David Letterman’s Late Show.
Two years later, he would have his own 30-minute special on Comedy Central Presents after appearing on other national shows. Tosh hosted the Comedy Central series Tosh.0 from 2009 until 2020, which featured compilations of viral videos from the internet set to a comedic narrative provided by Tosh.
From 2010 to 2015, Daniel Tosh went on a string of solo comedy tours of his own.
Here’s Why Laugh Factory’s ‘Rap Joke’ with Daniel Tosh Didn’t Land with The Audience
In my first and last radio interview about “funny women,” the host asked if I thought rape jokes were funny because I edit a humour column called “Funny Women” on TheRumpus.net. What she actually said was, “Rap jokes are never funny.” As I mentioned, I find humour in almost any situation.
Taking it a step further, I argued that jokes about tragic events could acquire a potent edge. They may be therapeutic and empowering, giving you a sense of agency after experiencing loss or damage that is irreparable.
Daniel Tosh, a hugely popular host on Comedy Central, made a rape joke during his set at the Laugh Factory on Friday night, removing all seriousness from the event. “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now?” he asked, referring to a member of the audience who had “heckled” him earlier in the set about rape jokes not being funny. In the present tense?
And God bless “that girl’s” friend for documenting the conversation on Tumblr. Verbal attacks need to be documented for management purposes. On Twitter, Tosh responded, “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.”
Bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t poke fun at them. Even I, however, am in possession of a rape joke. I submitted a nonfiction piece about my experience with sexual assault to an MFA workshop and gave it the catchy title “rape-portage,” a play on the word “reportage,” which haughty MFA students pronounce as “re-por-taj” or “re-pr-täzh,” to sound more literary.
It was as if the worst thing that had happened to me was something I could now own and talk about without feeling like the worst thing that had happened to me. Without ever dismissing or trivialising the severity of my suffering, I used humour to give myself some space from it.
But would it be funny if this girl were to be gang raped right now? It’s not a joke at all. In other words, it’s a formal invitation. It’s a jubilant rejoicing over a violent crime, which is another form of assault. This is not a coping mechanism.
It’s a “let’s do this and have a good time with it” kind of thing. There are girls in the world being raped by like five guys right now, and when you repeat these half-truths, they seem to magically become more true. When you spread the malicious idea that rape is funny, you’re stooping to the same low level as the criminals who spread it.
Tosh insists he was only kidding. Rape jokes are common fare for comedians, so this one seems particularly out of place.
And Tosh wasn’t joking around at all He was fuming with rage. His “joke” was a direct response to the audience member who had allegedly heckled him. He made fun of her to make a point about who was in charge and how weak she was. The “joke” sparked a backlash because, unlike most rape jokes, it wasn’t funny.
Tosh’s debate shouldn’t centre on whether or not rape jokes are funny. That’s a red herring; what he really meant was that this woman could be gang-raped at any moment, and his comment was a wildly inappropriate put-down, reminder, and threat.
Whether intentional or not, what Tosh did was humiliate a woman who stood up for what she believed in through the use of humour. This is in contrast to making a joke to cope with or point out the absurdity of a situation. My “rape-pr-täzh” joke was used to reclaim my power, just as his “joke” was used to assert his.
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