I know it’s often offensive; it’s supposed to be offensive, especially if it’s targeting people in power. When Michael Richards had his temper tantrum, calling black members of the audience racist slurs, he crossed a line by targeting a more vulnerable group, and echoing a sentiment that was the product of centuries of oppression. It’s not surprising that the audience walked out on him and that his career took a crippling hit.
But something very similar just happened. Another comedian, Daniel Tosh, uses the stage to tell rape jokes, and when a woman in the audience calls out that rape jokes are never funny, he has a totally inappropriate response.
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.
And there’s what I don’t get. The audience laughed and stayed for that? Talking about raping a heckler is now a laugh line?
I don’t know, has his career taken a hit? It might be hard to tell — hosting a youtube clips show on basic cable isn’t exactly the pinnacle of comedy.
It’s just odd that people can have a sense of shame about racism, but it’s still considered hilarious to laugh at the idea of women being gang-raped (or, since I know it’s coming, that joking about prison rape is good for a laugh. Please don’t try to turn the joke around and make it about Tosh getting raped, because that isn’t funny, either.)