Comedian Daniel Tosh was forced to apologize — halfheartedly — Tuesday night, after a report of him joking about the gang-rape of a heckler surfaced.
Tosh was performing a set at the laugh factory, and was running through a series of jokes about rape that are part of his routine. After a while, one woman in the crowd said she was disturbed by the content of the jokes, and talked back.
So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt 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.
Hecklers are far from unusual at comedy shows, and even though the woman’s point was valid, it would be understandable if Tosh did what most comedians would do, and looked for some humor in the situation. Unfortunately, Tosh was joking about rape, which made his pivot to the attack quite unfortunate.
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.
Tosh is a comedian, and he’s hardly the first comedian to try to squeeze humor out of taboo topics — and hardly the first to fail miserably at it. But taking that joke beyond humor, and wishing sexual violence on a woman sitting in a club, is beyond the pale. It’s not funny, and indeed, it’s frightening as hell.
After the post detailing the incident went viral, Tosh took to Twitter to apologize, kind of.
“the point i was making before i was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them [sic],” Tosh wrote. “all the out of context misquotes aside, i’d like to sincerely apologize [sic].”
The apology did not quell the controversy, however. Actress Martha Plimpton called out Tosh via Twitter, saying, “I can’t wait to hear your ‘lynching is funny!’ bit. Or would that be a little TOO dangerous?”
Image Credit: Julian Jensen