i’ve never found daniel tosh very funny, so like, no dewy eyed dreams shattered there, BUT:
what really pisses me off about this is how people are acting as if what he said to that audience member was an ad-libbed joke. excuse me what? just because a comedian says it and just because it’s on stage doesn’t mean it’s automatically a joke and thus free from from all the usual expectations of decency.
to be clear: the bit Tosh did that provoked the woman’s comment, the bit about rape jokes always being funny, sure, fine, it’s fucking stupid and i don’t agree with him and i probably don’t wanna join his bookclub now, but like, fine. let him have his hilarious spiel about rape jokes. that’s not what i’m angry about. this is:
when an audience member challenged the premise of his joke (and pretty politely, i’d add,) he stopped the bit. he stopped doing his comedy act, he went completely unscripted, and he addressed her personally, singled her out in order to reiterate with ironic glee the fact that she could actually be raped. daniel tosh was not trying to make a joke, he was trying to make a threat.
i obviously don’t think daniel tosh or any of the audience members immediately formed plans to rape this woman after he said it, and, likely, nor did she. but he was wielding his power in an attempt to put her in her place, to remind her that as a woman surrounded by an audience of many men, as a woman defying a man with more power behind him than she, as a woman living in the kind of society where someone as unfunny as daniel tosh can defend rape jokes and get paid millions of dollars, or really just as woman living, she was eminently rape-able and had best not forget that.
it was not a joke, which is why all the comedians coming to his defense on the grounds of “HEY-O it’s comedy, the nature of the beast dollface chin up ba da bing”* are missing the point, or masking it. if i’m in a group of dudes i don’t know and they start punching me on the arm like “hey, haha, what if we all just like, raped you right now,” i’m not going to fucking think it’s ok because it’s a joke, and nor would most decent and rational people (including, i’d argue, the comedians defending Tosh.)
when Michael Richards went on that batshit racist rant during a comedy routine, when he too targeted an audience member, nobody defended that as comedy (nor should they have, obviously.) why? because he didn’t cloak it in the smirky protection of “hey i’m just joking.” he was being nakedly, scarily aggressive. if daniel tosh had just yelled “i’ll fucking rape you” to that woman, i doubt so many people would be defending him. tacking on a “what if” or “wouldn’t it be funny” or a comedy central pedigree doesn’t immediately throw your thoughts into an ethical comedy vacuum, just like adding “no offense” never absolves you from being an asshole.
now a lot of people say “well, freedom of speech he can say what he wants blah blah” and like, yes, no shit. should daniel tosh be allowed to say things like that at a comedy club without legal ramifications? of course. but should daniel tosh be allowed to say things like that and not have the court of public opinion rule “wow, what an astounding anus of a human”? nah.. like…double nah.
*or however pompous male comedians who think they do the lord’s work talk down to people, i don’t even know