This comedian walks into a comedy club, goes on stage and starts joking about blacks being beaten by white people. You look around and see that people are laughing; it makes you wildly uncomfortable and upset. You can't understand how people are sitting through this diatribe, let alone laughing at it. The white comedian then exclaims, "Maliciously beating black people is always funny!" to which you cannot help but respond, "No, it's never funny", after all, you are black and can no longer hold your tongue. White comedian then says to the crowd, "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if like 5 white people beat this black guy right now?" the audience chuckles at the idea of you being involved in a vicious attack reminiscent of Mississippi circa 1950, while you flee the comedy club out of distress and revulsion.
This would never happen, you think, so where am I going with this? Well, this scenario did indeed happen, with one minor tweak: the joke was about raping women. Daniel Tosh, professional scourer of the Internet for videos of fat guys wearing No Fat Chicks t-shirts, a.k.a. the host of Tosh.0, performed stand-up at the Laugh Factory whereby he proceeded to make many a joke about rape. After Tosh asserted that rape jokes are always funny, a woman in the audience retorted, "Actually, rape jokes are never funny!" You would think that this would have been enough for Tosh to fine-tune his act a little, however I suppose that would have simply been too easy.
The audience member details her response in a blog post:
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, five 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.
Here's the thing, though, had Daniel said anything overtly racist or homophobic, there wouldn't be as many people piping in to defend him, let alone an actual celebrity. I doubt Dane Cook chimed in to defend Michael Richards for telling a black audience member he would have been lynched in the past, nor do I recall any mainstream comics coming to Tracy Morgan's defense when he maintained he would stab his son if he turned out to be gay.
It would seem as though there is always going to be an assemblage of men -- and the women who date them -- that are going to be unusually hostile to any sort of criticism towards misogynistic jokes. All of a sudden the same people that slept their way through college turn into defenders of our civil liberties, willing to fight for the cause of free speech and everything it stands for.
So, what is it about violence against women that is so time-tested and hilarious? And why do people feel the need to defend the "right" to make such jokes? Is misogyny truly the last bastion of the politically incorrect?
Perhaps Tosh and others find it wildly funny that 48 women are raped every hour in the Congo, or the fact that women aged 15-44 are more at risk for rape or domestic violence than from cancer, malaria and car accidents. Or maybe what really tickles his funny bone is the fact that there are over 160 million women missing worldwide due to widespread hatred of women.
Call me old fashioned, but I always thought there were certain topics that should never be peppered with any inkling of comedy; you know like bullying LGBT teens to suicide, the lynching of African Americans, the gassing of Jews, or the gang raping of women.
But maybe I'm just too posh for Daniel Tosh.
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