Daniel Tosh’s assertion during a recent appearance at the Laugh Factory that rape jokes are “always funny” has caused a certain amount of comment and controversy, particularly since a woman in the audience challenged him on his opinion. She responded that they are never funny. According to her, he responded that it would be funny if she were raped right then. According to the club owner, the audience member’s account is inaccurate.
The situation started when Mr. Tosh began his set by asking the audience what they wanted to talk about. Someone apparently said “rape,” and he accepted the suggestion; he says it was to demonstrate that “anything” can be funny. In the hands of an accomplished and sensitive artist, that’s true. Both George Carlin and Wanda Sykes have demonstrated that one can take some of the horror out of rape long enough to examine it, as Melissa Harris-Perry and her guests show on her July 15 MSNBC show. But Elissa Bassist suggests that Mr. Tosh wasn’t that skilled, and that’s a lot of the problem.
Slate’s Jeremy Stahl also analyzes the incident, comparing what happened to the Michael Richards debacle (also at the Laugh Factory) here.
Mr. Tosh has since apologized.