by 99 Seats
Somewhat apropos of Isaac's last couple of posts on trolling and bad public behavior, there's this thing that happened with Daniel Tosh. For those who don't know (or are allergic to clicking), Daniel Tosh is a comedian who is most known for making fun of people on the internet, usually using fairly "edgy" jokes, i.e. basically saying semi-racist/homophobic/sexist things with a wink. Tosh has a history of making rape jokes, including this wonderful bit. At a recent show, he started in and a blogger who happened to be in the an audience member shouted out that rape jokes are never funny. Which, of course, inspired Tosh to make rape jokes at the woman in question. She left feeling threatened, mortified and upset and tried to get her money back. A friend of hers blogged about it on Tumblr* and this set off a Tumblr/Twitter storm and eventually, Tosh kinda sorta apologized.
Like I said, Tosh has a history of this kind of stuff and I have at least one close friend who's been waging a campaign against him for years. After this, she literally unfollowed any friend on any social media platform who "liked" Daniel Tosh. Which seems pretty reasonable.
But. Hearing about it, made me think of this:
I had actually just re-watched this and was struck again by it. Now, as I've mentioned here before, I'm a huge fan of Louis C.K., his comedy, his show, his whole thing he's got going on. This is also, obviously, a staged event (the actress there is, of course, the amazing Megan Hilty, late of Smash), not an actual person. But he does A) make a rape joke, B) an AIDS joke and C) wishes her dead. For talking during his show. The great coda after gives some explanation for the vitriol...but does that correct it? Also: this episode aired nearly two years ago. I don't recall there being any backlash, any demand for apologies or explanations. In part, I think Louis C.K. gets a pass because his comedy isn't usually offensive and, again, this is fiction, not an actual person. But it's an insight into the psyche of a comic. Which is a pretty dark place.
Let me be very clear: I'm not defending Daniel Tosh. What he said and much of what he does is disgusting. Same goes for a lot of comedians who play the game of "edgy" material when they seem to mean exactly what they say. But I wonder if the Louie bit above lives in that land that Isaac mentioned here: this comes from someone I admire and like. Does it make me a bad person to laugh at it? Does it make Louis C.K. a bad person? How do I decide that Louis C.K. gets a pass, but anyone who likes Daniel Tosh isn't someone I want to know?
If I'm completely honest, I'm not sure.
Update: And then I wandered over to Twitter to find that two comedians I much admire, Louis C.K. and Patton Oswalt, have both jumped in this to defend Daniel Tosh. So...it just gets thornier.
*Updated for clarity. It wasn't a blogger, but a friend of the blogger.