Louis C.K., still pretty cool (probably)

Louis C.K. was on The Daily Show today.

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Some people have been kinda pissed at Louis for an apparent Twitter blunder he made. It’s relevant because the subject of this tweet has been causing some discussion here at FTB, but a lot of people may not have heard about it, so I’ll try to catch you up.

Last week Daniel Tosh (who, disclosure, I’ve never found very funny to begin with) did a stand-up comedy routine where he made a fairly ham-handed rape joke. An audience member objected, and then he said “Wouldn’t if be funny if she were raped by five guys right now?” Well, no. No it would not.

Plenty of posters have summed up this situation far better than I could. The best post was drawn to my attention by Greta Christina. At Jezebel, Lindy West explained that yes, even extremely sensitive subjects like rape can be played for comedy. IF they are done in an extraordinarily graceful and intelligent way — i.e., not by Daniel Tosh. (Cheap shot!)

One of the comedians Lindy highlighted as being good at this sort of thing was Louis C.K. (who, disclosure, I’ve ALWAYS found very funny to begin with). But something that has caused a little cognitive dissonance is that shortly after this incident was described, Louis C.K. posted a tweet saying “@danieltosh your show makes me laugh every time I watch it. And you have pretty eyes.” Everyone was all like “WTF? Louis is giving Tosh cover!”

Anyway, he does The Daily Show episode last night, and explains that he hadn’t even heard about the shitstorm; he was just posting something friendly to a fellow comedian, and was not yet aware of that specific incident.

It is, of course, always possible that he was just saving face after being criticized, but if he was then that’s a damn good thing to backpedal on. Either way, I remain convinced that Louis is a pretty classy guy. Although apparently he has bad taste in other comedians.

Anyway, just thought you should know.


  1. says

    Louis C.K. is the master of taking something horrible and making it funny. If you’ve never seen his Schindler’s List bit you should, it’s amazing. He takes a horrible scene from the movie and makes an amazingly funny joke from it.

    He also jokes about masturbation a lot, a disturbing amount; he may be the champion at that.

  2. jehk says

    I’m with you about Louie. He’s pretty damn great. I wouldn’t be surprised he’s back peddling though. I always got the sense he is very close to other comedians (being a comic’s comic) and the community. He probably just wanted to offer support then realized just how stupid Tosh was being later.

    I will admit Tosh’s show makes me laugh too. However, it has little to nothing to do with Tosh himself.

  3. Kazim says

    Those are fair counter-points. Could have been better. I found myself getting irritated at some of the things you mentioned. I thought he wrapped it up in a good place, but some of the bones he threw to the other side seemed unnecessary to me.

  4. chris says

    As I’ve been following this story, it seems that there are two separate discussions going on. One is about rape jokes and rape culture. The other is about how a stand-up is supposed to deal with a heckler.

    Which is why, I think, a lot of stand-ups are defending Tosh. Not because they’re necessarily defending a rape joke. But they are defending the act of insulting a heckler in order to get them to shut up and continue the show.

    But I could be wrong.

  5. Kazim says

    I’m pretty sure you’re right. I’ve seen videos where comedians had witty responses to genuinely annoying people in the audience, and they wind up getting huge laughter and applause, and wind up looking like big damn heroes. I’ve never done comedy, but I’ve done enough live TV to know that you can blurt out something that sounds good in your head, but requires a lot of explanation and correction later.

    I don’t think that excuses Tosh at all, but I’m pretty sure every comedian has a terror of saying something spontaneous that makes them sound like an idiot or a huge jerk after the fact. In this case though, I think it just speaks to the fact that Tosh is a shitty comedian.

  6. says

    were we watching the same clip? How is “this is women bitching about their feelings, and they should STFU once they are heard” a classy response to the controversy? Also- gender essentialism? That is totally dismissive of what women actually go through, and how *any* reasonable human being would react to the constant threat of rape.

    Also, I’ve watched his program and seen the rape jokes on it. They amount to “HA! RAPE!”, theres nothing clever about a dentist knocking someone out to mouth fuck them.

  7. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Well it’s not just that he said something that wasn’t even a joke (Wouldn’t it be funny if she got raped? No, dude. No it would not be funny.) it’s that he didn’t apologize. He made some shitty not-pology about all “oh gosh sorry IF you were offended but FREE SPEECH BLAH”

    Well, your right to free speech hasn’t been taken away. Too bad you don’t have a right to not be regarded as a total garbage nightmare as a consequence of your shitty actions.

    If he’d gotten up there and said “I responded to what I saw as heckling, and I did it without thinking, and it was not funny and I understand how it was very threatening to that person and I sincerely apologize for that” things would have gone differently. Because it’s about rape of a specific person, and that makes it threatening, intimidating, and wrong. It is threatening violence. People are leaping to the defense because they like making rape jokes and don’t want people thinking they’re assholes for making them. I bet if Tosh had said something like “Wouldn’t it be funny if like five guys came in with baseball bats and just beat the shit out of her so she went into a coma?” no one would be defending it. Rape jokes are *special.*

  8. Rory says

    I might disagree with your example. If Tosh (who I think is a giant turd) had said “Wouldn’t it be funny if five guys came in and beat her with baseball bats right now?”, then I wouldn’t find it very funny, but I’d probably be able to dismiss it as hyperbole, because obviously that would not be funny at all. On the other hand, to be a man, making jokes about a woman getting raped, is a very different (and very not okay) kind of thing. One example I saw somewhere (maybe it was the Jezebel piece) used a joke about lyching: a white guy making a joke about getting lynched, absent any racial context, is probably okay. A white guy suggesting a black audience member should be lynched for heckling him is probably not okay.

  9. Kazim says

    Yeah, well, people are fucknuts.

    Happens over and over again on this blog and everywhere on the internet, every damn time we post anything tangentially related to feminism, social graces, or harassment. Probably there are at least SOME people who are, as they claim, innocently confused about the amount of attention paid to these topics and would like to think about other things. But there’s also a dedicated core of MRA dirtbags who are just dying to dive into every discussion and drown it out, because they love rape jokes or whatever. I totally agree with you there.

    I don’t give rape jokes special protected status. I don’t even think it’s an especially good idea to make them even for people who CAN pull them off. I do think that when I went to Lindy’s post and watched the clips, I had to admit that, yeah, those ones in particular managed to make me laugh.

  10. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Right, you wouldn’t find it very funny. And would probably feel no need to post endless blog posts and comments about how no it really WAS funny, and also if someone disagrees then THEY should be beaten into a coma, also free speech and if someone doesn’t think beating someone into a coma is funny then they have NO SENSE OF HUMOR!!!one!!!eleventy!!!

    Because that is what a lot of people on the internet ARE doing in defense of this rape “joke”.

  11. mythbri says

    Yeah, I’m not terribly impressed by that. No one should be praised for hitting the bar for “absolute very least they could possibly do”.

    Rape-related humor can be funny if it does the following:

    1. Targets people who prioritize their need to get off over someone else’s bodily autonomy (i.e., rapists).

    2. Targets the tired old victim-blaming tropes that are trotted out to minimize rape as something that the victims deserved for breaking “the rules”.

    3. Targets society’s acceptance of rape as just one of those things that is acceptable when the victim is a bad person or “really deserves it.”

    Punching up the power dynamic of society is brave, edgy and tears down the status quo. It makes people think, and sometimes makes them uncomfortable. It can be a means of speaking truth to power.

    Punching down the power dynamic of society is cowardly, easy and reinforces the status quo. It makes people comfortable because it reassures them that their prejudices are correct, and they don’t need to re-think anything at all.

    Last I checked, rape victims don’t typically have any societal power at all.

  12. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Thank you. I had the exact opposite reaction to this. I really liked him up until this. The tweet didn’t really bother me, because I didn’t take it as others did.

    But the Daily Show interview has made me doubt and then change my opinion of him. The Shakesville piece linked above is spot on. And then, listening to two white dude congratulate each other for telling the bitchez to STFU already . . . yeah . . ..

    I’ll go elsewhere for my Lulz.

  13. mike says

    I had only seen a few episodes of his show but since this thing happened I went online and watched seasons1&2 and am currently working my way through #3. His show is pretty funny, the vids are good and its witty and fast-paced,if one segment is not funny, there’s another right away.
    He has a no hold barred approach to comedy as he makes fun of everything and everybody(including himself) He often recreates the videos putting himself in very embarrassing and awkward positions- he likes to shock people with actions and with comments.
    So when he was rudely interrupted by that woman during his stand-up he responded with some shocking comments(is she didnt like the show she should have just left, not yell out and ruin it for others) I understand he has since apologised, its a fine line when you’re a shock-comedian.
    To say he’s a ‘shitbag’ is unjust and to say he’s a shitty comedian is well, an opinion, but the show is #1 on comedy central so he must be a little bit funny

  14. sambarge says

    I keep hearing/reading that Louis CK is funny and gets it. I don’t see that. He doesn’t strike me as that funny and he actually sounds like an asshole. I get it, he’s mad at his wife and daughters for being female. Okay. And?

    Is it just me?

  15. jehk says

    Not sure if this reply will nest. I’ve had problems before but…


    I dunno. There’s a big difference between Tosh.0 and his stand up. While I haven’t watched Tosh.0 in awhile I do recall liking the show. His stand up on the other hand, not so much. In fact, I don’t really care to watch it ever again.

    His show is probably propped up by writers better then him and outrageous youtube clips.

  16. mythbri says

    That’s an argument from popularity. Ratings don’t make him right. Judging by the reaction Tosh got from the crowd when he said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if like, five guys raped her right now?”, she did not ruin everyone else’s night. They laughed.

    What about the time that Michael Richards was booed off the stage for being racist? He didn’t deserve that? Those people ruined the evening for everyone?

    That’s a shitty thing to do, and a shitty thing to laugh at. I don’t understand why he can hide behind the excuse of “comedy” have everything be okay. Comics aren’t immune from criticism.

  17. jehk says

    Have you even watched his material? Especially his newer show on FX?

    He has some really endearing moments with his girls.

  18. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Sorry, people who put videos of teenagers getting raped on their TV show and laugh about it are shitbags.

    [Warning: description of video at link, as well as transcript of Tosh’s commentary, with a link to the video on youtube. I do not know if the link works because NOPE DO NOT WANT TO SEE]

    Also as earlier, Tosh fails at comedy if he can’t joke about rape, which means he is an uncreative, sloppy comedian and oh yeah, also a shitbag. http://rumorfix.com/2012/07/daniel-tosh-orders-rape-out-of-tv-premiere/

    Also note this video on comedy central’s website which contains Tosh laughing about violating women’s personal space and bodily autonomy. Oh and if they say they don’t like it DON’T WORRY THEY REALLY DO (because not respecting a woman’s “NO” is NOTHING LIKE RAPE AT ALL AMIRITE)

    SO YEAH.


    There’s my evidence and that’s my opinion. Please feel free to try and persuade me that he’s not a shitbag with some counter evidence. I feel it’s pretty just to call him a shitbag, so deal with it.

  19. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Yeah, I just wanted to clarify that you, Kazim, are not one of the people I was including in the “some people give rape jokes special status.”

    That part of my comment was directed at defenders of Tosh’s use of rape jokes (including Louis CK himself). So much of it seems to be about their right to tell horrible, awful, dehumanizing, destructive jokes and yet not ever be criticized for doing so.

  20. annabucci says

    Louis CK is awesome and funny, Tosh is funny too(not nearly as awesome though). They both make me laugh out loud(literally), and it’s a pleasure to watch them. This drama needs to go away.

  21. jamessweet says

    Yeah, this was not great. But, it does seem that he’s listening a little bit, that he’s maybe starting to get a modicum of understanding even if he’s not all the way there. FWIW, the fact that he’s not all the way there, but is progressing, could be valuable in that it maybe can drag other people along for the ride — i.e. there may be people who are not going to listen to anything like the Shakesville blog, but who might hear this guy making jokes about women talking too much and identify with him AND THEN hear him make a thoughtful point on the way in which rape culture severely restricts women’s lives, and it might make people think.


  22. brucegee1962 says

    I did’t see it as “two white dudes congratulating each other.” Stewart looked increasingly uncomfortable as the interview went on, and he wasn’t really giving Louis any encouragement at all as far as I could tell. His facial expression looked to me like watching one who was digging himself a hole.

    I’d never heard of this CK person before he popped up on Stuart, and he didn’t impress me much. He was going great for the first few minutes, and impressed me when he said “I read some woman’s blog and learned a few things.” Then he ruined it with the tired old “feminists = no sense of humor, amirite” garbage (1968 wants its joke back) and kept on crawling down until he hit bottom.

  23. jehk says

    The first one looked like a bunch of drunk dudes who went too far. However, the one about violating a women’s personal space is so fucking creepy I had to stop watching almost right away. What really gets me is that its calculated by Tosh to make the person feel violated. Fuck that shitbag.

  24. annabucci says

    I don’t think it’s a matter of ratings making him right, so much as pointing out if he was such a shitty comedian the ratings probably wouldn’t be as good. I don’t see Carrot Top with his own show on comedy central for example. So, not really an appeal to popularity, more like “some people find him funny”.

  25. annabucci says

    LOL all the video clips people are linking are making me laugh my ass off, haha. I’ll likly be watching tosh and louis ck clips the rest of the day now. too funny

  26. peno says

    The fact that the original Dunning-Kruger contained a section on humor makes me hesitate to ever declare something or someone not funny a priori.

    I may make an exception for Jim Jefferies, though, and I invite anyone who thinks Tosh is bad to view some JJ material, if only to calibrate their humor sensors.

    Full disclosure: I was raped at the age of 7, and my claim is that Lindy West has said all that needs to be said in this matter: http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a-rape-joke

  27. kagekiri says

    Didn’t Louis CK make a pretty similar attack on a heckler on Louie?

    Episode 6 of season 1, a woman in his audience interrupts his show with talking. When he confronts her, she mentions that rape isn’t funny, and then he starts making pretty misogynistic attacks on her to try to shut her up or make her leave. And she was portrayed as the bad guy…

    I remember that episode making me pretty uncomfortable at the time, and it makes the whole “Louis CK makes funny rape jokes” thing ring a bit hollow. Sure, sometimes he might, but he’s also cool with saying pretty misogynistic bullshit.

  28. C Rowan says

    I hate Tosh. He shouldn’t have made a rape comment directed at a specific woman. I don’t care if she was a heckler. It wasn’t cool. He should have apologized, not for his shit act but for his pointed remark.

    I dig Louis CK’s show. It’s dark & not for everyone but it is largely about a decent guy trying to do his best. He fucks up. He’s confused most of the time but he’s inherently good. In public, Louis is a comic first, so he’s going to be a smart ass but he seems open to criticism & learning.

    I think this is still a “thing” because RAPE is still a “thing”. SEXISM is still a “thing”. The Tosh incident may be little but the issue at hand is huge.

  29. jehk says

    She was the bad guy. Louie being an asshole to her doesn’t change that. He even asked her to stop nicely first. Interrupting and distracting someone while they are performing isn’t cool.

  30. John Kruger says

    Stand up comedy is such a strange space. Nothing is supposed to be taken seriously, yet there are still serious points that are at times made through comedy. I do not think Tosh deserves any performer’s exemption in his case, though. I found that response to heckling way over the line.

    As for CK, it is hard to say what his personal thoughts were when he wrote that tweet, so I find I have to take him at his word. His tweet only mentioned how he enjoys Tosh’s show on TV, and he has a valid point in his interview about how it is too big of a stretch to call him a rape apologist because of it. Towards the end, though, he starts straddling the line of satire and seriousness and it is hard to tell where he is on feminism in general. Then he winds it up with “STFU women”, and I am not sure how much he is just kidding when he says that.

    I think a lot of people play the “I was just kidding” card as an easy out when they say something that gets a bad reaction, and it is hard to tell what they really think on the matter and whether or not they really do have bad ideas that should be called out. Edgy comedy, or abuse of artistic licence? It can be really difficult to tell at times.

  31. kagekiri says

    She was an ass, did I say otherwise? Two wrongs don’t make a right is my point there, yet Louis somehow is still the good guy.

    Louis is a misogynistic asshole in his show, which makes me iffy on the “some comedians are smart enough to make actually funny rape jokes or racist jokes”, like saying the heckler’s mom raped a homeless Chinese man (which is the counter heckling line he starts off with). Better than Tosh, maybe (not sure why Chinese heritage is brought up…), but hardly on the right side of sexism.

  32. Rory says

    Tosh said something stupid and offensive. He’s been called on it. People who backed him up in the stupid thing he said are being called on it. So what are you asking for, exactly? Should people not be called on it when they say stupid things?

  33. Kazim says

    It’s on Netflix, so I just pulled it up on my phone. I really don’t think either of them came out looking good. She’s kind of a bitch, but he really, seriously hurt her feelings and he was not being made out as the hero for that. He was also sitting there wallowing in self-pity, and a lot of the humor seems to be at his expense.

  34. C Rowan says

    I wonder the same thing. I think “edgy” is often a disguise for “too lazy/bigoted/etc to think of something smart to say”. Also, I think good comics can make bad jokes. I never liked George Carlin’s anorexia bit (You don’t wanna eat? Then don’t eat!). I found it offensive. But overall, George Carlin was awesome.

  35. jehk says

    I don’t really care what your opinion of Louie is. However, interrupting someone while they are performing is a major asshole move. Having been in a similar situation, it does hurt. Especially when you put so much time and effort into your performance. People who behave that way should be shamed. Seeing Louie actually do it (ie shaming the person in public) is pretty awesome in my book.

    Having said that I still think Tosh went too far. He went from just shaming the person to downright hostility and even seemed like veiled threats.

  36. proxer says

    I still don’t understand Melissa’s “everyone is always the enemy all the time” approach. Does she identify several still-misogynistic things that Louis says? Absolutely. As usual she goes beyond the mark, though. The piece is consumed with fault-finding and interprets everything he says in the most negative light possible – even when it’s wholly unwarranted. Why?

  37. Kazim says

    [Edit] I thought your comment was directed at me. My mistake. I’m leaving the rest of my response up anyway, though.

    I wasn’t criticizing Louie the show, or the real Louis CK as a comedian. I was criticizing Louis the character. I think the show was deliberately setting up an uncomfortable situation for the character on purpose, and was playing his discomfort for laughs just as much as it was showcasing the smackdown against the heckler.

    Shows are allowed to have that kind of nuance, you know. “Louie” has a lot in common with Curb Your Enthusiasm — the character “Larry David” has some similarities to the real Larry David, but he’s kind of a prick and much of the humor is at his expense. Or if you want a less subtle example, look at how much of the comedy on the Colbert Report is really a sly joke about the obvious stupidity of “Stephen Colbert” (the character, not the comedian).

  38. jehk says

    To Kazim. No more nested quotes I guess.

    I totally get that. Honestly, I really empathize with Louis the character from that particular scene. His speech about why what she did was so harmful hits home. Maybe I’m an asshole too but I feel like she should be ashamed and feel like shit for what she did. I kinda do feel like Louie was the good buy.

  39. kagekiri says

    I don’t care what your opinion is of Louis’s character, either? Why are you jumping in to defend him if you don’t care?

    I agree that heckling is assholish. I GET IT. It still doesn’t justify misogynistic bullshit. For example, if one person of a specific race is an asshole to you, throwing racist epithets to demean them just makes you an asshole, too, and it supports MORE asshattery all around. It makes the world a more hostile place for all the other people who fall into those categories that you’re being bigoted about.

    Misogyny (or even general bigotry): not cool, no matter how much of an asshole any person is being. That’s my point, “heckling is so awful” is irrelevant. It may explain his actions in the show, but it does not sufficiently justify them in my mind, not by a long shot.

  40. Brandi says

    Yes, they should be called on it.
    This reminds me very much of all the “Chris Brown can assault me any day!!” tweets by young girls who are too ignorant to understand how terrible they sound. People are often happy to excuse shitty behavior if it is coming from someone that they have looked up to. Also, might have something to do with them liking them a lot, therefore they don’t want to believe they have bad intentions?

  41. Kate says

    I was never really bugged by Louis CK’s rape jokes because he never made the victim the object of ridicule. But I really really hate this “us versus them” crap. There’s no arguing with him – If I think he’s an asshat for saying feminists can’t take a joke, that makes me a feminist who can’t take a joke. But I’m not going to laugh along just to be part of his cool and funny boys club.

  42. Zarron says

    Full disclosure here: I think Tosh is actually pretty funny, for the most part. He’s no George Carlin or anything like that, but I laugh at him sometimes.

    That said, I think in this incident, he did cross the line, and he really ought to apologize for it. I don’t think this piling on him is really warranted though. He said something hurtful to a heckler. I don’t really think that makes him the worst comedian ever.

    George Carlin did rape jokes too. He did it explicitly to resist this idea that you can’t joke about certain things. The bit started out with with the assertion that you can joke about ANYTHING, it just depends on what the fundamental exaggeration inherent in the joke is. I think he’s correct. But you don’t see people complaining about Carlin’s rape jokes, even though they’re probably every bit as offensive as Tosh’s were. He even explicitly called out certain feminists for wanting to control your language, just like religious people do, in that bit, IIRC. Carlin was definitely funnier when he did these jokes than Tosh is, but I think the difference is mostly in execution, not necessarily content. (To be fair, Carlin didn’t ever, to my knowledge, say something quite that hurtful to a heckler, but comedians of all stripes do say some pretty brutal stuff to hecklers, so maybe he did and it just never got recorded. Who knows?)

    Rape itself isn’t funny. And I am not sitting here apologizing or justifying rape or the prevalence of rape threats or rape culture. But comedy is a strange animal, and I think both Carlin’s and Tosh’s allegedly ‘terrible’ rape jokes are not really veiled rape threats or callous disregard for women, like some people make them out to be. It all depends on the tone, content, and who’s delivering it. In fact, I would wager that both of these men were/are more allies to the feminist agenda than they are enemies. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but that’s just the feeling I get from them.

  43. Lee says

    How about some levity?

    Trailer for the Heckler movie:

    Warning, the rest is NSFW

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU6Yc2FE5M0(Andrew Dice Clay showing how to violently threaten hecklers like you mean it)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBOyvrd8Ee4 (Patton Oswalt being merciless on two hecklers, by the by, he supports Tosh)

    (Bill Burr’s legendary take down of the entire city of Philly)

    (Joe Rogan)

    (Zak Galifianakis)

    (Kevin Smith)

    (And lastly George Carlin)

  44. Muz says

    The ‘set’ of Comedy contains “misogynist bullshit”.. Louie’s character on the show is a complicated guy lost in a complicated world. Sounds like BS, I know, but despite his flaws of language and temperament he tries to sympathize with everyone at one point or another, in his earthy working-class way.
    If it does have a lesson, as such, it’s that you can’t judge someone too harshly on one thing they say. It’s a little more complicated than that.

  45. Muz says

    My favourite part of that is Louie and the woman talking it out afterwards while the other comics watch. He gives this heartfelt little speech about the lot of the comedian, the noble struggle to make people laugh etc. They part on slightly better terms, but the guys he’s supposedly defending are only interested in how well the speech went as a potential pick-up strategy.

  46. Muz says

    He doesn’t wind it up with “STFU women”, he winds it up with “STFU everybody”, if anything.

  47. John Kruger says

    “To the women I say, now that we have heard you, you know, STFU for a minute.”

    It is at 5:30 in the clip.

  48. sambarge says

    Yes. I’ve seen his act. That’s why I said that I don’t find him funny; because I’ve seen his act and didn’t find it funny.

    I see by the thread that you’re quite invested in supporting his act but I gave him ample opportunity to live up to the hype (The Daily Show is the 4th time I’ve seen his “act”) and I don’t think he’s got the cash for the cheques written in his name.

  49. Nathan Godwin says

    Zarron, that’s about as sensible a take on this whole thing as one can have, in my opinion. There are no sacred cows, and often in order for stand-up comedy (or humor in general) to have much value, a person or group is going to be a target.

    In few realms are the effects of the free market more immediately visible than in stand-up comedy. You literally live or die based on your moment to moment wit on stage, and the audience can turn on a dime. Charlie Sheen’s “stand-up career” was quite short-lived, and so will Daniel Tosh’s be if this idiotic rape gaffe of his (and that’s what it is for a comic when people don’t laugh at a joke – a gaffe) turns off too many of his fans.

    If Tosh doesn’t want to apologize, he doesn’t have to. Seriously, he doesn’t… Is he special in that regard? Well, yes! Jon Stewart is constantly pointing out that “it’s different for a comedian” and it is something people just can’t seem to understand. The success of a comic’s career doesn’t ever depend on whether something is appropriate or not, only whether it is funny or not.

  50. Muz says

    Oh right. I was taking ‘winds up’ as a summary of his position, not literally ‘winds up’ (for some reason).
    I wouldn’t call it a summary of his position. He does tell the guys to listen, but he can’t help going back to the Honeymooners well a bit there it’s true. But I don’t really know why we get into this level of captious analysis around these parts sometimes.

  51. DW says

    I wish I could upvote your comment. Comedy often walks that line of offensive or taboo subjects. And it should because it’s a type of performance art. It makes us question our assumptions or point out uncomfortable truths about ourselves and our society. If we made all rape jokes off-limits, that’s not scoring a victory against rape culture, that’s a victory for censorship.

  52. mike says

    I was just waiting for someone to trot out the “argument from popularity” fallacy but I don’t think it applies here. If the answer to a question is subjective then it is not a fallacy. It is different in a black/white situation. If you ask 1000 ppl a math question and 900 ppl think the ans=x, then it would be a fallacy to assume the answer is x. Whether something is funny or not correlates to how many ppl think its funny. If 900 ppl think a show is funny and you don’t,then you are in the subjective “wrong”. My point is most ppl do find him funny, as the numbers show.
    His standup may be totally different from his program as the only standup show I saw was on the comedy network and he was younger. It was still above avg. funny, not hilarious, but it was fairly clean.

  53. mike says

    Agreed. Since this thing started I’ve become addicted to Tosh.0 shows on Project-TV, its a nice break from heavy subjects on skeptical podcasts & blogs. I like his nothing is sacred approach and how he makes fun of himself mercilessly! The ambiguous nature of his sexuality also adds to the show, I like the fact that he won’t say either way and is quietly amused by it all. Thats the way it should be- what’s the diff. if he straight or gay?

  54. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    In fact, I would wager that both of these men were/are more allies to the feminist agenda than they are enemies. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but that’s just the feeling I get from them.

    George Carlin? Perhaps. His humor tends to be more of linguistic humor and anti-establishment “think for yourself” stuff, and the anti-establishment jokes could be seen as challenging the patriarchal system in some ways. I don’t know that he ever identified as a feminist or a feminist ally, though.

    Tosh? How much do you want to wager? Please provide evidence that he is in any way an advocate for equality, calls out misogyny, discourages objectification of women, speaks out against gender essentialism, refrains from policing gender roles, does not uphold stereotypes, campaigns for women’s rights (reproductive rights, equal pay, child care, maternity leave, etc), or really anything else that would be considered something a feminist ally would do.

    And let’s weigh that against “Wouldn’t it be funny if she got raped by like five guys right now?” *pointing at specific woman* (Which, by the way, is not a joke, but an incitement to violence.)

    And also weigh it against the other links I already provided above.

    Oh also @DW there’s a difference between “you are not allowed to make rape jokes” and “You’re free to make rape jokes all you want, and everyone else is free to call you a fucking asshole for doing so.” Maybe learn what censorship means, bro.

  55. DW says

    I’m responding the claim that rape jokes should be off-limits, which I’ve seen a lot in the comments surrounding the whole Tosh.0 controversy. (Although thankfully not in this comment thread.) I’m not saying “don’t judge people who make rape jokes.” Notice that my sentence started with an “if.”

    And I *do* think that “Wouldn’t it be funny if she got raped by like five guys right now?” was meant as a joke. Think about the context–a heckler in the audience shouted that rape jokes are never funny. Tosh replied by suggesting a “joke” where the humor was in the shock value of what he said (“did he really go there?”) rather than the act he was talking about. Obviously, it would not be funny if she got raped by five guys. I doubt Tosh even thought at the time that would be funny. It’s not an incitement–he didn’t actually want people to rape this lady for comedic purposes. I’m also giving Tosh the benefit of a doubt that he was trying to make a joke because:
    a) This isn’t part of the routine. He’s been put on the spot by a heckler, so he’s not going to make a funny, sensitive joke about the subject they are talking about (rape).
    b) He’s not very funny to begin with.

    Shock comedy is pretty common. See Borat, any telling of The Aristocrats joke, and Comedy Central’s roast of Bob Saget. Or this Onion article: http://www.theonion.com/articles/daniel-tosh-chuckles-through-own-violent-rape,28769/

    Also, I’m female, BRO.

  56. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Okay, I thought you had somehow misinterpreted things in THIS thread to mean that people wanted to outlaw rape jokes or something, because there are a lot of people who interpret “rape jokes are not cool” with “OMG CENSORSHIP!!!! FREE SPEECH!!!” So okay, fair enough, I suppose. Although I have trouble with your phrasing of off limits = censorship, since I feel like the “off limits” part depends heavily on context, as in, maybe be aware that joking about rape in a way that empowers rapists is perpetuating a rape culture where rape victims are blamed for their own rape and also believed to be lying about it, because rape has been so trivialized by a casual attitude in popular culture. Odds are pretty good that someone in that audience was either a victim of rape or someone who had committed sexual assault, and a joke like that spits in a victim’s face while encouraging an assaulter to keep on assaulting.

    On the other hand, there are rape jokes that I have found funny, and Lindy West actually has some good points with that, but I still don’t see how “wouldn’t it be funny if THAT PERSON RIGHT THERE, THE ONE IN THIS AUDIENCE, HER, IF SHE GOT RAPED” is a joke and not an incitement to violence. I’m not saying that five guys were going to stand up and volunteer for it or something, but the woman in question said she felt incredibly threatened and had to leave, and I would not be surprised if she was afraid that some audience member would follow her. You know, because it would be so funny.

    And again, it’s not even that he made the “joke,” it’s ALSO that a) this is typical “comedy” for him, and b) he didn’t even apologize. Well there was a not-pology but those don’t count, he has learned nothing from this other than not to be quite so overt in his misogyny.

    I get that it was a heckler situation, and comedians can get super mean and defensive when heckled, but it’s kind of like how calling someone a racial epithet isn’t excused even if you were really mad. You just don’t go there, bro. And the problem with this is that even though he did mean it as a joke (and I think he did, as do you) intent is not magic, and that doesn’t change the part where the way it’s worded *sounds like an incitement to violence against a specific person.*

    Also I use bro for everyone. Some people find this super annoying, and then I try not to use it on them, but it is such a hard habit to break!

    …bro. >_>

  57. Dantalion says

    No topic should be off limits, but there is an important difference between referencing and endorsing. Also if someone’s instinctive reaction to being heckled is to wish (let alone suggest) rape on the heckler, that absolutely does indicate that they are a shitty person.

    And Tosh had already established himself as a shitty comic.

  58. F says

    I don’t know. I’ve only had bits of limited exposure to CK, and he had previously come recommended by people I respect so I paid attention. I never made an effort to actually watch a whole standup number or his show (because I’m like that with things that aren’t text).

    What I had seen was him mocking some of the more stupid and privileged types of male behavior, although once or twice it seemed to be on the verge of going the other way despite the main theme of what he was going off about at the moment. (It is weird that a small random sampling got me mostly the same subject matter.)

    But none of this is relevant to what he may have chosen to do at other times. Maybe he’s a douchebong, or simply has moments of fail. But if he is truly doubling down on supporting some truly idiotic douchenozzle, he certainly is less respectable, and maybe just a menz at heart. I doubt I’ll be reviewing his material, but I certainly take the objections made by people in this community seriously.

  59. F says

    Lol, wait, no. Heckling is an integral part of the comedy experience. You don’t get it!

    Play with that ball.

  60. F says

    People do point out Carlin’s rape jokes as questionable or wrong.

    And what Tosh said to the “heckler” was no joke. If you think that was a joke or humour of any variety, then I don’t even.

  61. F says

    You wouldn’t believe the scrambling for the remote in my house if our attention lapses over commercials and Toshbag comes on.

  62. hexidecima says

    Louis C.K. might not have heard anythign about the Tosh thing. However, his own comments on the Daily Show make him out to be pretty much the same lame man desperate for attention by trying to claim his unhappiness with women is “funny”. Meh.

  63. chrisagens says

    Most comedians think its funny and silly when people get up in arms about a joke made. I think there is an underlying joke behind it all, which is that they’ve actually made you upset with something they said in jest. Regardless of what it was, the fact that you take yourself and life so seriously that it bothered you that someone would say certain words in a certain order, as a joke, is the joke, and its on you.

  64. Paul W., OM says

    People interested in some nuance about rape jokes and the necessity of squelching hecklers harshly may want to read my long comments in the “De Gustibus” thread over at Butterflies and Wheels.


    Most people don’t understand how important it is for comics to squelch hecklers immediately and decisively, irrespective of whether the heckler is ultimately right or wrong. You cannot stop the show to think about it, and you shut them down right now, and try to make a joke doing it, preferably one that makes it clear to other potential hecklers that if they heckle, they will be made to regret it, with no quarter given.

    That’s part of what professional standup comic is paid to do, for very good reasons. She was interfering with his ability to do his job, making squelching her part of his job.

    I don’t trust the heckler’s account of what happened, and especially do not trust her interpretation of what happened.

    I strongly guess that Tosh’s first reply to her heckle—that rape jokes are always funny—he was being very ironic, saying something obviously stupidly false to mock the heckler saying that rape jokes are never funny. I pretty much assume almost everybody in the room got that, but a lot of people on the intertoobz seem not to.

    Irrespective of whether he in fact deserved to be heckled—I haven’t heard his jokes that triggered it, so I can’t know if justifies the extreme rudeness of heckling a comic—she was extremely rude to heckle, and she did it badly; she was wrong, and he was right. Rape jokes are not always funny, but they’re certainly not never funny.

    He was pretty clearly mocking the heckler for being extremely rude and saying something goofily false by saying something goofily false in return, staying in character as an ironic “asshole.”

    IMO, that was a pretty good response to a heckle.

    I suspect that his followup about her being raped was even more ironic—he was pretending to be even more of an asshole than she was making him out to be, which I suspect that he and his fans don’t think he really is, even if he is more of an asshole than some, and too much of an asshole for her. (Or me.)

    I suspect that the heckler does not understand comedy and particularly edgy comedy very well, and that Tosh was using the literary device of being an unreliable narrator, like Humbert Humbert in Nabokov’s Lolita.

    I’m NOT saying that Tosh isn’t an asshole, or has as much of a social conscience as I’d like. I think he is an bit of an asshole, and just not that good of a guy.

    I don’t think he’s as bad as the heckler and others are making him out to be. There really is an ironic stance there, and you really are expected to get it if you go to a Tosh show, or any edgy comic’s show.

    From some other remarks she made, the heckler clearly is not very familiar with comedy clubs and how they work, and why they work that way, especially with regard to hecklers.

    Comics simply do not have time, mid-routine, to be nice or even fair to hecklers. They must be mean, even draconian, whether the heckler understands why or not, and even if that makes them seem to their own fans like more of an asshole than they really are.

    (Few people understand just how rude heckling is, and how many ways it damages a show, except for comics.)

    If they’re grossly “unfair” to a heckler, that just too fucking bad, and they can think about it later, and maybe apologize, after the show is over, not during.

    The heckler is so naive about comedy and comedy clubs that her being offended by Tosh’s allegedly unfunny rape joke tells me absolutely nothing about whether she should have been offended, or whether it was actually funny. It seems quite likely that she missed a level of irony that almost everybody else in the room got.

    The one thing I liked best about Louis C.K. talking about it on The Daily Show was the closing thing about getting past this and back to killing the Jews.

    That was a great joke that made a great point. It was funny, and it if you can joke about killing Jews and have it be funny, it’s hard to believe you can never joke about rape and have it be funny.

    The heckler set herself up to be mocked as a stereotypical “humorless feminist” who has no humor about comedy or comedy clubs, but feels qualified to tell professional comedians and their fans what is and isn’t funny.

    It was a ridiculouos thing to say, and she got ridiculed for it.

    She was asking for it, in a big way. She made herself ridiculous, and Tosh just pointed that out and underlined it, with his first reply at least.

    As a humorful feminist, I say good for him, up to that point.

    I feel very sorry for the heckler, who was clearly well-intentioned. That doesn’t change the fact that Tosh was not out of line to smack her down very hard, and in particular to make fun of her humorless feminism.

    Humorless feminism does exist, and she exhibited it.

    Don’t judge comics by how they handle hecklers.

    And for chrissakes, don’t heckle comics, ever. It’s ruder than you can probably imagine if you’ve never written standup, and even if it’s nonetheless morally justified, in some exceptional case, you will be made to regret it, because the comic isn’t going to make any nuanced judgements like that on the fly. The comic may regret it too, later, but not before you do.

    So just don’t.

  65. Rilian says

    I don’t pay any attention to twitter, so this is the first I’m hearing of this.

    Apparently Louis CK doesn’t realize that he is actually a good comedian, unless Daniel Tosh. I’ve never been offended by anything Louis said in his stand up routines, although this interview is kind of offensive.

  66. says

    We get it. Comedians need to deal with hecklers. But here’s the thing: I’ve been to a lot of comedy shows. I’ve seen a lot of heckling. Yet never have I seen a comedian deal so poorly with hecklers as Tosh did. This really is not how a good comedian deals with hecklers. He really does not have an excuse at all. He’s a shitbag. Seriously, if the first thing that popped into his head was ‘wouldn’t it be funny if she got raped right now’, then he’s a shitbag. End of story.

  67. Paul W., OM says

    Seriously, if the first thing that popped into his head was ‘wouldn’t it be funny if she got raped right now’, then he’s a shitbag. End of story.

    Seriously, if somebody says that they hope we can get past this kerfuffle and “get back to killing Jews,” then he’s a shitbag, end of story, right?

    Seriously, if somebody says that they’re going to go steal a Christian baby and roast it for dinner, they’re a shitbag, end of story, right?

    Seriously, if somebody said they were going to beat up an antifeminist who called her a “bully,” and take his lunch money, she’s a shitbag, end of story, right?

    Or is rape categorically different from genocide, and cannibalistic baby killing, and and from physical violence in the service of extortion to humiliate a critic.

    If so, how, exactly?

    If not, how do you know it’s end of story?

    I think Tosh is kind of an asshole, but it is really not clear to me that his heckle squelching should be interpreted the way most people here are interpreting it.

    I think I know what he meant, and that it really was meant ridiculously ironically, intended to be parodying what he was being accused of, just as people here at FTB do every day.

    I think he was making a joke about being an even worse horrible monster than he was accused of, and the accuser’s worst nightmare, just as I’ve seen evil shitbags like PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson do.

    Do keep in mind that I’m being very ironic here. I adore PZ and Ophelia, and my point is that they are the very opposite of shitbags, even if some over-the-top things they say are shitbag-like if taken at face value. People often say things that are over the top evil and you’re supposed to know that of course they’re kidding, exaggerating and parodying their critic’s accusations.

    I think Tosh was probably doing that, too, mocking the idea that he’s a sociopathic, utterly sexist pick.

    I’m guessing that’s how most people in the club understood it, given the ridiculous setup that the heckler gave him—as him pretending ridiculously to be a feminist’s worst nightmare.

    I suspect I’d have found it funny, too, despite being a feminist, because she was asking for that, even if she utterly misunderstood what she got.

    She said something stupid and extreme, and he played along with it, playing the role of something stupid and extreme in the polar opposite way—she’s the virtuous feminist moralist, and he’s the evil sexist sociopath.

    His point was you’re misrepresenting me, and I’m going to make fun of it by doubling down on my ironic “sexist” stance by being ridiculously ironically ridiculously sexist.

    That can be comedy gold, IMNSHO.

    I’m not saying he actually did a good job of it or that he should have done it. I don’t think he should have, and that it was the wrong thing to do—it was too much beating up on an extremely rude but well-meaning person who’s just not getting the joke.

    But that is a different and lesser bad thing to do than what people are assuming Tosh did—just saying the most hurtful thing he could think of.

    I don’t think he did that. I think he said the funniest thing he could think of, and that it really was funny.

    I suspect his audience laughed at his mockery of her not because they’re all sociopathic assholes, too, but mostly because what he said was actually funny, if you understood the irony as intended. They got the joke.

    That is exactly the kind of thing I’d do and regret later. It would likely just be too tempting to go for the ridiculous ironic slapstick, and when I realized it was too confusing and too cruel, it’d be too late.

    Keep in mind that when squelching a heckler, you do not have time to think much at all—seconds at most, including the time to think of the squelch and evaluate whether it’s funny. That means you have approximately zero seconds to decide whether a funny squelch is worth not saying because it’s likely to be misunderstood, or taken out of context and used to vilify you on the internet.

    If that’s right, I feel very sorry for Tosh about this particular incident, even though I do think he’s kind of a douchebag in general.

    I really doubt that this is the smoking gun about his douchebaggery, and think he’s getting a very bum rap.

    I could be wrong. I’d love to hear a recording to know whether all this hating on Tosh is justified. I’d be happy to hate on him if it is.

    And it might be. I just don’t know, but suspect that lots of people are grossly misinterpreting things he sincerely meant very, very ironically.

    One thing that I’m pretty sure of is that a lot of people here don’t understand irony—or rather, are not bringing that knowledge to bear in this particular case, and giving Tosh an appropriate degree of benefit of the doubt, like they’d give PZ or Ophelia or an unknown fellow commenter here.

  68. Paul W., OM says

    I think there’s often something more (and funnier) to it than them thinking you’re taking a joke “too seriously.” There’s a specific understanding of how you misunderstood the joke, and took it to mean something it simply didn’t—often that they said something ironically, and you took it literally, in ways that they blame on you (rightly or wrongly) rather than on their own joke telling ability.

    So, for example, if you get all up in arms about Louis C.K. suggesting we go kill Jews now, you didn’t just take the joke “too seriously”; you probably completely misinterpreted it, and drew some conclusions diametrically opposed to the truth.

    (That might be what you actually meant by “too seriously,” in which case I’m just clarifying, perhaps unnecessarily.)

    That misunderstanding itself is actually funny, even if it’s also scary and sad.

  69. mike says

    I already explained why I brought it up- it adds to the show, he talks about girls being hot, and guys being hot, and I know it would bother some homophobic people that would just have to know whether he’s gay or not! Like the time Tommy Lee was on the show and afterwards Tosh read an e-mail that he got from Lee’s agent that said “With all due respect, Mr Lee was just wondering whether or not you’re gay?” To which Tosh said he wished to remain mysterious and besides he’s scared he’d be typecast as a “straight” lol

  70. mike says

    Of course it wasn’t a joke, he was trying to be rude back to her, and shock the audience. What could be more shocking than to use the very thing that offended her in the first place?
    That’s the genius of it, that’s shock comedy, like the above poster said, see Borat, the Aristocrats joke, celebrity roasts etc. Nobody wants anyone to actually be raped, people! Fuck, skeptics with sacred cows or what

  71. Paul W., OM says

    For what it’s worth, the owner of the club, who was in the room at the time, says Tosh did not say what the heckler accused him of saying to her, and says her account is just false on several points.


    If he is to be believed, what set her off was not even a rape joke by Tosh, but a request from somebody in the audience.

    Masada says 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 says, “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 continues, “It was a comment — it wasn’t a joke at the expense of this girl.”

    Actually, it sounds rather like a joke at her expense to me, callously making light of a possibly good (i.e., horrible) reason she or others in the audience might be sensitive to rape jokes.

    (But I’m not sure of that, because the owner admits he doesn’t remember exactly what was said; he’s apparently pretty sure it wasn’t the kind of threatening-sounding thing she said it was, i.e., that it would be funny if she were raped then and there.)

    It also sounds to me much less rude on her part than a heckle in response to a joke by Tosh, so some of my blather about hecklers and squelching is off-base.

    It was apparently at a point in the show where Tosh had chosen to ask for input from the audience, and she was disagreeing with another audience member, not interrupting Tosh during a bit. (That’s not absolutely clear, because he might have been responding to someone else by then with some kind of riff, but either way it probably wouldn’t be clearly interrupting his routine in nearly the same sense as a prototypical heckle.)

    This sounds like Tosh did say something stupid and awful, but not the utterly awful thing she clearly accused him of—making a threat-like joke about how it would be funny if she were raped by five guys then and there in the club.

    IIRC her account of the event says that she felt so threatened by that she had to get out of that “claustrophobic” environment in which she could be raped, so she left.

    The owner says that’s false, and that she sat through the whole show, and then came and talked to him (the owner) about it after the show.

    I don’t necessarily trust the owner’s account—he could be misremembering and has a vested interest in downplaying the event and keeping a big draw like Tosh happy with him and his club—but I doubt he would simply lie about that kind of concrete event, given that there were 280 witnesses who might say they saw her leave as she said, and he could easily get caught in a clear lie.

    Tosh’s accuser, on the other hand, is an anonymous person on the internet (not the blogger who relayed her detailed account).

    It seems likely to be me that the accuser’s account is not accurate on some of the most damning points, and not implausible that she made up some of the most damning details to ensure that Tosh came out the horrible villain of the piece.

    She could even be Tosh’s Wally Smith, dramatizing her account to put herself entirely in the right and Tosh dramatically in the wrong. (Well, not really Wally Smith. Some of his shit was entirely fiction, with dramatic incidents that never happened at all.)

    Short of that, she doesn’t seem obviously a reliable witness.

    Until some of the nearly three hundred other witness confirm her account, I’ve got to be skeptical. Her account could be more accurate than the manager’s, but I personally doubt it.

    It seems likely to me that Tosh did actually fuck up, and apologized for actually fucking up, but of course did not apologize for the very worst things he supposedly did because he didn’t actually do them.

    And if he says that he’s sorry she took things the way she did, that may not be so much a “notpology” as a polite avoidance of calling her a liar, to make it clear why he can’t apologize the way people want.

    That’s never going to satisfy people who simply take her account at face value and think he joked that people should rape her. But if he didn’t do that, as the owner says, he shouldn’t.

  72. troopdawg says

    if you do not like daniel tosh’s jokes, you are not forced to pay for a ticket to see him or to keep the channel on his show. it’s his gig to get a reaction, the bigger the better.

    if you don’t like andrew ck’s show, you don’t have to watch it.

    people can literally be tripping over their feet to get in front of what offends them. if people agree with you, they will stop watching their shows and stop giving them attention, if they don’t agree with you, they will likely wait to hear the next joke or see the next show. /realworldatplayzone

  73. Paul W., OM says

    That was a breathtakingly stupid comment.

    Nobody’s saying that anybody has to show up for a show where a comic is an utterly racist bigot, nonstop, telling truly malicious racist jokes—or that nobody else would show up to a show like that and have a wonderful time laughing at those criminal dagos and lazy niggers and drunken Indians and so on…

    Or likewise, if Christian comics bash non-Christians nonstop in utterly unfair and bigoted ways, and Christian fans think it’s a laff riot, because it’s so true… well, gee. Sure, they can choose to do that, and we don’t have to go.

    So the fuck what?

    That doesn’t mean that we have to like it, or shut up about how it sucks.

    We’re not going to shut up about how sexism sucks, or arguing about how bad what Tosh did was or wasn’t.

    If you don’t like that, you certainly don’t have to be here, and shouldn’t. This show’s not for you.

  74. rrpostal says

    Didn’t Louis say the “debate” has come down to the exact same thing the previous two comments just demonstrated. Damn near word for word.

    Am I a complete dick for thinking the whole thing is becoming kind of funny? There are certainly components that are serious and deserve sober reflection. But explaining or defending the nature of humor itself is a gleefully impossible task to approach from such an obtuse angle.

  75. Brandon 42 says

    I think that there’s a very fine line between what people consider okay and not okay to joke about, so it seems almost arbitrary to scorn Daniel Tosh while giving Louis C.K. a pass. Louis C.K. is the same person who also joked about rape being okay if “you wan’t to have sex with somebody and they won’t let you” and made fun of Sarah Palin’s “retard making cunt.”

    I think they’re both funny and good at what they do, but both of them have crossed the line at times. I won’t disown either one over a joke that was in poor taste. I give comedians more leniency with this sort of thing since they’re basically being dared by the nature of their trade to tread the line of obscenity.