Friday, July 13, 2012

What is off limits in the comedic world?

During a standup performance at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, comedian Daniel Tosh reportedly joked about rape and suggested that the woman who heckled him should be gang raped.

Now, there have been conflicting reports on how the topic was brought up.  The club owner told BuzzFeed that the topic of rape was brought up by an audience member and was pretty mild.

[Jamie] Masada says 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.

According to her blog post titled ‘A Girl Walks into a Comedy Club,’ the female audience member left the show early in fear for her life after Tosh joked how hilarious it would be if she were gang raped.

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 find 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, as we high-tailed it out of there.

Tosh has received support from his fans and other comedians like Dane Cook (before his tweet mysteriously disappeared) and Louis C.K. showed his love for Tosh without actually condoning the rape joke controversy. Whoopi Goldberg said on a recent episode of The View said the joke was okay as long as it “works.”

Photo courtesy of Comedy Central
Regardless of what context the joke was in, Tosh, the star of the Comedy Central show Tosh.O, blurred the line between “just plain offensive” and “funny offensive” when he took his jokes “too far” to some fans.

This controversy all begs the question though, are we not holding people accountable of what they say as long as it’s funny? Understandably, it is a comedian’s job to make fun of serious situations because “it’s what they do.” However, when does “it’s their job” overshadow something as serious and sensitive as rape?

People usually attend comedy clubs to laugh and have a good time. Some commenters on various news stories about the issue said that people should know what to expect when going into a Tosh comedy show. However, is it right to blame her for standing up for what she believes in? Is it right to give Tosh a pass for basically encouraging a crime to happen just because it would be funny?

Now some may argue that anyone stupid enough to act on a joke should be thrown in jail because what they are doing is against the law, but the influence celebrities have on fans and society is downright scary.   

Tosh did issue an apology after the woman’s blog went viral and now there are rumors he is taking out rape jokes in his animated Brickelberry pilot, but still should certain topics be off limits in the comedic wolrd? 


  1. I don't think #Rape is never funny. But I guess you have to be sexual assault survivor to to see there is no #comedy in this.