Host of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0,” Daniel Tosh, is feeling the heat after a woman who attended one of his stand-up shows reported that the comedian was making light out of rape.
According to a blog post written by the victim’s friend, “Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how a can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc.” To which the woman in question then shouted out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!” In response, Tosh stated, “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…”
Both stunned and frightened, the woman and her acquaintance for the night then fled the scene of the club.
The owner of the club told BuzzFeed a different side of the story in an interview. Jamie Masada said that 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 said, “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.”
He emphasized, “It was a comment — it wasn’t a joke at the expense of this girl.”
Masada then claimed that the woman then sat through the rest of Tosh’s set — which received a standing ovation — before complaining to the manager about Tosh’s joke. The manager apologized, Masada said, and offered her tickets to come back to the Laugh Factory for another performance, which she accepted.
In either case, there is reference and dispute towards concept of “rape culture,” the disturbing core issue. As defined by Upsetting Rape Culture, “people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as ‘just the way things are.’”
Whether this is a case of misconception, perpetuation of female threat (and males who are just as susceptible), or sheer ignorance, what can be agreed on is the fact that a clear level of offense was breached. As said in an article by the pro-feminist site Bitch Media, “the only time a rape joke is truly successful is when rape culture is the butt of it—otherwise it implies that rape and rape culture are inherently funny.” Supposedly, this rape incident was not his first offense, as the aforementioned article provides a clip where Tosh’s punch line indicated that his sister was raped.
Tosh reportedly apologized via Twitter, one of the tweets stating, “all the out of context misquotes aside, i’d like to sincerely apologize.”
Fellow comedians Jim Norton, Dane Cook, Anthony Jeselnik, and Patton Oswalk all have notably defended Tosh in regards to the incident. A petition to take Tosh off the air is also making rounds across the World Wide Web.