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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Not so funny after all.

Hi 121 Students,
I did not truly respond to the "rape" joke issue because I had not seen the routine mentioned. I have since gone to view it and to read and listen to the controversy surrounding it.

My stance is completely in line with that given by Jessica Valenti (great feminist author of "The Purity Myth" among other great reads) as provided in many medias over the weekend. Listen to her speak here on my favorite weekend political show, Melissa Harris Perry.

Here is the clip of Valenti and Perry addressing comedians and rape and, in particular, why Tosh's routine about rape, really and truly, well, wasn't funny and, in many ways, this kind of "rape" humor is dangerous.

Do watch the whole things -- after Valenti comedians speak for themselves about rape jokes and the Tosh issue.


View the clip here or on my blog
and post your response on the blog as well for extra credit.

I look forward to your thoughts.
Dr. B.


  1. Piyabalo Padaro (P)July 17, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    I think all comedians should be able to make any kind of jokes while they are on stage, because they are there to make people laugh not to worry about other people feelings. There no way you can make everyone in audience happy. Some people are sensitive, and you just have to defend yourself and stand by your words. The statement that Daniel Tosh made on stage at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles should not be taken out of the context. Daniel should be able to defend his jokes. The rape itself is not funny; however Daniel is a comedian, and he should stand by his words. He should not apologize to the woman who was offended by his rape joke. I think Melissa Harris was right when she said “if you say something you can’t defend, you are lazy… And I don’t want to hear it.” Think about Chris Rock who called President George W. Bush “stupid and ignorant President” in one of his comedy show in New York in October 2008. Did he have to apologize to the President and to all Republican voters? I don’t think so. Here are my words: if you think it is not funny, don’t say it; however, if you say something that you think it is funny, please defend yourself instead of apologizing.”

  2. Piyabalo Padaro (P)July 17, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    One correction to my previous post:It was Lizz Winstead who said " if you say something you can't defend, you are lazy... and i don't want to hear it."It was not Melissa Harris as i metioned in my previous post.

  3. I personally take the stance that humor really should know no limits. It is generally the jokes that create shock and awe or generally invert expectations is what makes humor what it is. There are always two sides to every story, and I searched to see if there may have been a clip from that specific show, but did not find one. From what I have gathered, Daniel asked the audience for a topic of discussion. An audience member then shouted out "rape" to which Daniel replied "Rape jokes are always funny!" A member in the audience then took it very offensively and began "heckling" the comedian to which point he had mentioned something along the lines of her being raped.

    From my point of view, I have 2 thoughts on the subject. The first, is this was indeed a show she paid to come to (she may not have know his comedy, but she was still there voluntarily) This was Daniel Tosh's act and his performance, therefore he is free to say what he wishes to. Second, with my first thought in mind, if she sounded as upset as she was made out to be, it should have been realized by the comedian, and then possibly handled in a different way.

  4. Nobody should bear the brunt of any joke. They make a good point about how comedians go about telling the joke of rape. They explain that comedians should not belittle it or make light of the rape itself. Especially the "Big Ego" yelling at the "Little Ego".
    MSNBC’s Mellissa Harris explains you can make a rape joke funny by not pushing the envelope. She then posted an example of comedian Wanda Sykes doing a small skit on rape. Wanda Sykes was able to turn the issue on females running vulnerable at night, into something tastefully done.

    However, I think Daniel Tosh sincerely is apologetic about the joke and realizes he pushed too far. At the time, I believe he knew he was going to catch flack no matter what after the bit. Being a comedian, I feel that he will 100% go with his gut and push the joke. If he hasn't gone anywhere besides the social media to apologize, I think he feels as if he has done enough because of the fact that he is apologetic. If he pushes to far again, then I think the media will push even harder to ensure he is out of the “lime light”.

    -Tonya Smith

  5. I have different conflictions on this issue. I support comedians and their art form to the fullest. I feel that comedians are treated as the lowest common denominator in the category of art. Every other artist's Second Amendment right is always protected by freedom of speech advocates; for none of these people to stand up for him isn't right.

    I felt like Daniel Tosh was doing his act which every person in that room paid to see. Every person in that room knew what kind of comedian Daniel Tosh was; he is a shock/tongue and cheek comedian. Therefore if that woman was offended by his rape joke, she should have left. If someone in the audience of a symphony started protesting the music being played then they would have been thrown out but just because she's at a comedy club she feels she has to stop his show to voice her displeasure.

    I don't condone what he did and I thought it was an unfunny thing to do, even malicious but if that's the style of comedy or defensiveness he chooses then its his right. I would hate to see this become an issue where comedians have to edit their acts because of fear of media protest.

  6. I agree with numerous people that Daniel Tosh shouldn't have made that specific rebuttal to the female heckler at his show. I also agree with a lot of the other comedians that are backing him up because it was his show and it was his stage. On top of that, Tosh. The comment he made was not surprising in the slightest because he's said and done, in my opinion, much worse things in other shows. The only difference I feel, is that instead of addressing a specific group of humans, he's addressing one female who felt offended. She did not do research about the comedian prior to going to the show therefore she did not know what to expect.

    Jessica Valenti also mentioned that she agrees that serious issues in everyday life are definitely game when doing comedy, but only with boundaries. Joy Reid also states that what Daniel Tosh said was hostile and angry and how certain jokes, specifically major issues like rape, can't be said in that manner. I feel that the comedian, despite who they are, should be allowed to say what they want and it's the worlds choice if they want to be influenced by it. Daniel Tosh has the right to perform how he wants because no boundaries have been set as far as what can and what cannot be said.

  7. Hi Steve,
    This is an interesting response and in many ways, I agree. He is who he is; those of us who know him, know how far he pushes all envelopes. That being said, and still, when it comes to issues of violence -- especially violence that is typically perpetrated against specific groups by other groups who also typically hold the power -- well, then, I tend to agree with Valenti in that the comedian should be considerate of "victims" of that kind of violence and, perhaps, rethink the way he presents humor surrounding those issues. I go at this from the standpoint of a "rape" victim (I am not one, thank goodness, but I can try to be in their shoes) and truly, I think that is where Tosh should try his view as well.