Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tweet of the Day

This is another one of those subjects that it would be a waste for me to pontificate on in too much detail because I've done it so many times before. Yeah, Daniel Tosh made a joke about rape at a comedy club then made another rape crack at a woman in the audience who took offense and heckled him for it -- so what? Love him or hate him, Tosh is a comic whose material is readily available to anyone going to see him live, given that his show is the most popular thing on Comedy Central at the moment, five times over. You know what you're getting yourself into by sitting in the crowd at one of his shows; you know the kind of humor you'll be subjected to, and in the end that's all it is: humor. He's a fucking comic. Don't think he's funny? His kind of comedy not your particular brand of vodka? Leave. Don't watch, don't listen.

Enough with the fucking offense at anything anyone says that you don't like. Enough with the horseshit indignation spread like wildfire through social networking to millions who weren't privy to the actual comment -- its extended context and the setting in which it was offered -- so that everyone can join in your personal pissy-party pile-on. Comedy is entirely subjective and I don't want to live in a country where someone, anyone tells me what I should and shouldn't think is funny.

I've said it before but it bears repeating: Comics stand as the vanguard of our right to free speech -- the canary in the coal mine, so to speak. They're the ones we count on to be able to push the envelope, challenge our sensibilities, even offend us occasionally because it's necessary for us as a culture. The world would be a much more tedious place without comedians willing to truly put themselves out there and take risks -- to make fun of the sacrosanct and vilify the revered if necessary -- and their ability to do that should be protected at all costs. Making them grovel before the altar of political correctness, in the end, damages all of us.

It doesn't matter whether you think what Tosh said was funny or not; he should be able to say it and not have to worry about the effects of a nationwide public backlash.

To everyone who's pissed about Tosh's rape crack: You got an apology from him -- and it's quite frankly more than you deserved.


Riles said...

Yep. You cannot go to a comedy club and then complain about it if something offends you. And if you are easily offended, why the hell would you go to a club anyway? Go to a big polished Brian Regan or Jay Leno show -- pretty much guaranteed to be bland, easy comedy.

It's even stupider to get offended by reading about something that happened in a club that was told to a blogger by someone else.

Fucking ridiculous.

ZIRGAR said...

Often, standup is nothing but big lab experiment where sometimes things blow up. Unlike other forms of entertainment, the comedian's art isn't perfected before he/she goes on stage; it’s constantly refined in front of the audience, and while the comic certainly practices his/her material when not on stage, more often than not, the performance and the practice are one and the same. Meaning the performers are not only discovering what works for them, but what works for an audience, so there will be some really egregious mistakes made along the way. So, since we are privy to so much being laid bare on stage, we need to be more tolerant. Yes, there are some really dicky comics who seek only to offend, but for the most part, comedians are just trying to make us laugh. Their hearts are in the right places even if their mouths always aren’t.

Chez said...

Two perfect comments. Thanks, guys.

Anonymous said...

"She should have known better. She should have known what it would be like walking into a comedy club."

"Man, she should have known better than to be in that part of town at night. Especially dressed the way she was"

Look dude, Tosh is free to say what he wants and man, I've chuckled at few rape jokes in my time. But when you're called on something like that, something so prevalent in our society that 1 out of four women in your audience either have been or will be victims of sexual assault, you don't double down on it.

Sure, heckle her back. Invite her up to tell a joke if she thinks yours arent funny. But don't double down on something that is that much of a trigger. That's just irresponsible. And it's lazy comedy.

Anonymous said...

I return to the master, George Carlin:

"Oh no, you can't joke about rape, rape is never funny! Oh yeah? FUCK YOU! I think rape is fucking hilarious, what do you think about that? If you don't think rape is funny, imagine Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd. Why do you think they call him Porky?"

Context is everything. you don't walk into a rape crisis center and expect rape jokes. But walking into a comedy club? Sit down and enjoy the show, and if you're offended, leave.

JohnF said...

Can't all of these same arguments be made on behalf of Adam Carolla? You seemed a lot angrier at him.

Chez said...

Thanks Anon 3:20 for drawing the most unintentionally hilarious false equivalence I've seen on this site in a really long time -- and I write about Republican media a lot.

John, that's actually a very fair point. I think with Carolla I felt like two things: One, it was something he said publicly, not in the confines of a comedy club, so he has to be prepared for a little more pushback. Two, given his recent political pronouncements -- and he seems to be leaning away from "comedy" and more toward social commentary these days -- I kind of felt as if he was serious in his comment about female comedians, whereas any idiot could get that Tosh was kidding around. But you're right to point out the contradiction and I may be just splitting hairs.

JohnF said...

It's just as possible that I'm not splitting enough hairs. I'm kind of at a crossroads with Carolla. I freely admit to being a big fan of a lot of his work, but lately he's been pissing me off.
I mean, this same guy who's said dumb stuff about women has also had some classic rants against religion. He's been a huge advocate for birth control and the Morning After Pill. He supports gay marriage and legalized marijuana. And he hates Oprah and Tyler Perry just as much as I do.
On the other hand, he thinks Andrew Breitbart was a decent chap.
So I don't know.
I so want to make excuses for some of the dumb shit he says. I so want him to not be as big an asshole as he's seemed lately. It's tough. Maybe I'm fighting a losing battle.
At the same time I also realize you can't make it such a conditional thing, whether or not you enjoy somebody's work. If we all had a rule that every celebrity we liked had to have the exact same beliefs as us, we'd never be able to watch any movies or listen to any music. Many (maybe even most) famous people are pretty dickish.
I forget what my point was.
Oh yeah. Louis is awesome.

Anonymouse said...

What pisses me off about this entire thing is that our society has created this notion that one should never be offended.

This woman didn't just quietly decide to leave, or perhaps later voice her opinion about the show afterwards. She decided she needed to stop the performance. Her actions, no matter how righteous thought they were, are no different than a drunk asshole who thinks he should be the star of the show.

Please someone explain to me how this is different than assholes running onto a playing field or that nutbag that cost that long distance marathon runner during the Olympics.

Sam V. said...

It's important to keep in mind what free speech is: it's protection from the government when you say things (with certain exceptions like threats against the president), NOT protection from criticism from others. Strictly speaking, no one has infringed on Tosh's free speech rights, or even come close. He's allowed to say whatever he wants, and frequently does. However, the same goes for people who don't like him. If people want to complain about him, they're just as free to do so. Constitutional free speech has very little to do with this issue.

If, however, we're talking about the current obsession with political correctness, well, that's a very different thing. Again, in this situation, he's making comments in a public forum (in that he was saying things knowingly in front of people in a semi-public venue... he wasn't secretly recorded making rape jokes in his house or anything), and by doing so, he's opening himself up to criticism, just like the way any comedian who gets on stage does (or Corolla, or any other public figure for that matter). I'm glad that people who don't like what he says are able to criticize him, just like I'm glad he's able to say what he does. Remember, he doesn't have to apologize if he doesn't want to (there just may be repercussions for him if he doesn't... but then again, are we arguing that you should be able to say anything and get away with it? Should I be able to tell my boss to go fuck himself and expect nothing will come of it when I say "I'm joking!"? Not how things work...)

We can, of course, get into all sorts of parsing regarding the differences between what Tosh says, what Carolla says, what world leaders say, what's appropriate, when people should know that they should just take a joke, etc etc, but once you start judging the OK-ness of a statement (beyond, like, legally), you're in murky territory, full stop.

J. Dack said...

The crux of the outrage seems to be that a great many people believe that making jokes about rape encourages what they call rape culture, and that making light of something makes it more acceptable in general.

Given that I believe actual rapists are mentally ill, I'm not sure I buy that. Unfortunately when you're dealing with people who say that having sex with a girl who is drunk counts as rape, you're not going to get anywhere.

Frankly I think we should be mad at Tosh because his show is nothing but content mined off the internet accompanied by smarmy commentary, and I kind of want to punch him in the face.

Drew said...

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger; comedy is when I fall into an open sewer and die." ~Mel Brooks

Sometimes, things are so horrible that you can ONLY laugh at it in order to mentally wrap your head around the vileness of it. Comedians rule!

Anonymous said...

Expressing outrage at a joke you heard in a comedy club is like going to a KKK meeting and complaining about the racism.

Anonymous said...

Defending a comedians right to tell jokes is all well and good.

The problem is, everyone is just accepting the premise that Tosh is a comedian. Dudes a frat boy with a microphone. There's a difference.

Krissy said...

Anonymous 11:25 -

Your comment is kind of what this whole discussion is about. You have every right to think he's just 'a frat boy with a microphone.' You have your opinion, some may agree and some may not. So don't watch his show. Don't see his stand up performances. I think he's a comedian, and a fucking hilarious one at that.

FabMax said...

Sam V., thanks for that.

SteveR said...

A few points for you, Chez:

Chez, why are you commenting on this, when you "weren't privy to the actual comment?" Or do your words have more value than those who expressed a negative opinion? Unless you were at the show, you're just as far from this as the indignant millions.

Next, did that woman really know what she was getting into, or did her friend suggest going to the show? You're making an assumption. If you have evidence she knew what she was getting into, please share it.

Regarding what's funny and what's not, yes, outside of the delivery, comedy is subjective. But speech has an effect -- otherwise you wouldn't be expressing it. Are you ignoring the effect of hateful speech? And make no mistake -- his comeback was hateful.

Finally, you state that comedians push the envelope, and of course, that's necessary. But consider this: consciousness of society grows in various directions; but not in *all* directions, allowing freedom for all desires. Freedom to own a slave? Kill your daughters? Have sex with children? In a sense, the envelope has contracted on those issues, hasn't it?

You've got it backwards, Chez: Tosh isn't a comedian on the vanguard, he's a dinosaur holding fast against progress, holding onto his right to keep women in their place. He's not spearheading new ideas, he's reinforcing old ones.

Chez said...

Steve, you've got a lot of argumentative fallacies in there and quite a few faulty assumptions, so I'm not sure where to begin. First of all, I'm defending Tosh's benefit of the doubt because I wasn't there and neither were you. I'm not saying that what he said wasn't potentially awful -- I'm saying that I just don't know and neither do almost any of the people complaining because we're hearing what happened third hand from a friend of the person this happened to. I'm taking aim not at the woman herself for being upset if she was offended, but at the outrage machine that always seems to ramp up when this sort of thing happens.

When it comes to her having to have known what Tosh was all about, she should have understood what the potential was for this kind of comedy -- and even if she's offended, you don't take it upon yourself to stop the show and shout back at the performer. Comedy is probably the only art form where the audience inexplicably thinks it's okay to shout down the person on stage doing his or her job. Don't like it what you're hearing? Get up and leave.

Your conflation of a fucking rude comment in a comedy club with the freedom to kill your daughters or own slaves is laughable and doesn't even deserve a response.

Finally, your opinion of Tosh and his comedy. It's just that -- your opinion, and nothing more, which means that's all the value it has.