Daniel Tosh has found himself in a bit of hot water, and for all the wrong reasons. Here we go again.
The comedian was recently on stage at The Laugh Factory where he got on the subject of trying to make fun of evil things in the world like gang rape, an anonymous and offended participant in the crowd felt it was her place to speak her mind rather than realize she’s watching a comedian tell jokes.
According to her post:
I didn’t 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.
While no rational person condones rape, any rational person should also realize they’re at a comedy show and assigning malice to a joke about any subject is also wrong. It’s only the crowd’s job to watch. Tosh smashed her after she decided to disrupt his show. The attention she got afterward clearly made her uncomfortable but it also came from actions she triggered as the heckler. Heckling a comedian on stage is often met with a shutdown because they are disruptive to the show.
But have we become hyper-sensitive? Having some sort of self-righteous desire to squash all things we don’t like or agree with? “I don’t agree with that so it must not exist!?”
This notion has bleed into our TV watching habits, our news consumption, our politics, but does it really need to? Is it really that difficult to change the channel, not buy the ticket, not listen to the radio DJ? Countless arguments are made about this, but jokes are jokes folks. And when they’re told by a comedian on a stage during a comedy show that’s exactly how they should be taken.
Daniel Tosh has already issued an apology through Twitter and more context has been given by the owner of the club, stating:
Tosh asked the audience, “What you guys want to talk about?” After someone in the front said “rape,” a woman in the audience started screaming, “No, rape is painful, don’t talk about it.” Then, Masada says, “Daniel came in, and he said, ‘Well it sounds like she’s been raped by five guys’ — something like that. I really didn’t hear properly.”
“If you’re offended why would you take a couple tickets to come back to the club again?” he says. “If you were offended, how about the rest of the audience” — 280 people total — “who’s giving a standing ovation?”
“I know his character,” Masada continues. “He was trying to make everybody laugh. He was so sweet to find out one person was insulted to apologize about it,” later stating “Michael Richards came from hatred. Daniel Tosh did not — it was a joke and that’s what comedians do.”
Having been in business 32 years, Masada says audience members have been getting offended by the shows at a surprisingly high rate lately. He’s recently deflected complaints from customers offended by comics’ jokes about Barack Obama and another customer offended that a comic told him he was “retaining pizza” after he said he was “retaining water.”
As a friend once put it, “apologizing for a joke is as bad as being offended by one.” Perhaps this is the case.
I’m sure there are plenty of people with opinions on the subject but there’s mine. Write me or fight me!
UPDATE: 11:30pm Another update from her site. Petitions? Though she has no plans on pressing charges, the idea that she even thinks she could is bothersome. I’m no legal expert, but what would the charge even be?