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Daniel Tosh is a stand-up comedian and host of the Comedy Central Internet humor television show Tosh.0. While the television series has been a commercial success, many of Tosh’s jokes have been criticized for being racist, homophobic and misogynistic, including an incident involving a rape joke in July of 2012.
Tosh.0 premiered on June 5th, 2009, in which Tosh highlights various humorous Internet video clips while standing next to a television set in front of a green screen. The second act of the show is known as “Web Redemption”, featuring various Internet celebrities who have starred in viral videos. The following stars have appeared in Web Redemption segments:
- Leave Britney Alone – Daniel makes a snuff film with Chris Crocker.
- Tron Guy – Daniel sends the Tron Guy into the computerized world that inspired him in the first place.
- Nintendo 64 Kid – Daniel tries to get the now grown-up Nintendo 64 Kid to say thank you to an even bigger gift.
- David After Dentist – Daniel and David teach the boy’s father a lesson by “Balloon Boy-ing” him.
- Latarian Milton Daniel and Latarian perform various activities of neighborhood mischief.
- I Just Wanted to Make It Snow – The Crying Sorority Girl joins Daniel’s new sorority.
- What What in the Butt – In the first “Web Remix,” Daniel invites Samwell to do an unplugged version of his song with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme.
- World of Warcraft Freakout – In the first “Web Investigation,” Daniel interrogates the WoW Freakout Kid and tries to get him to admit that the premise behind his ultra-popular video is false.
- Double Rainbow – Daniel takes Paul Vasquez on a “Web Retreat,” following a quadruple rainbow all the way to West Hollywood.
- I Like Turtles – During the redemption, Jonathan Ware, the I Like Turtles kid, reveals that he had just seen a turtle exhibit at the county fair, and had turtles on his mind during the now famous interview.
- Antoine Dodson / Bed Intruder – Daniel and Antoine try to catch the Bed Intruder by luring him into a trap.
- Evolution of Dance – Daniel and Judson have a “Web Dance-off.”
- Tay Zonday / Chocolate Rain – Another Web Remix, this time pairing Tay with Boyz 2 Men.
- Boom Goes the Dynamite – Brian Collin provides commentary to the Tosh.0 Staffer Basketball Game as part of his Redemption. He sets off an explosive-laden vest at the end.
- Eli Porter – Eli performs his now famous rap at Arizona State University as part of Tosh’s College Invasion. Featuring singer Skylar Grey and the ASU Drumline.
- Epic Beard Man was featured in a second season episode. Daniel invited the two belligerents in the video for a “Web Rematch” on his show, but this has not yet come to fruition.
Tosh is known for his edgy and sometimes offensive humor that has been criticized as being racist, ableist, transphobic and misogynistic. On February 17th, 2010, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation published a blog post criticizing Tosh for being transphobic when he insulted a seven-foot-tall model by saying she had male anatomy (shown below). On September 2nd, 2010, the Straight Dope Forums member Little Nemo submitted a thread titled “Daniel Tosh and Racist Jokes”, which questioned why Tosh was able to make racist jokes without any public outrage.
Rape Joke Controversy
On July 9th, 2012, a post titled “So a Girl Walks into a Comedy Club….” was published on the Cookies For BreakfastTumblr blog, which recounted a story told by the author’s female friend about an experience at one of Tosh’s stand-up performances. The story claimed that during the performance at the Laugh Factory comedy club, Tosh began making statements that rape jokes were funny, to which the woman shouted, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!” In response, Tosh reportedly said, “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?”, causing the woman to flee the theater out of fear for her own safety. Within three days, the post received over 24,000 notes. On July 10th, Tosh apologized via his official Twitter account, but claimed he had been misquoted and was merely trying to illustrate that any topic can be joked about.
all the out of context misquotes aside, i’d like to sincerely apologize j.mp/PJ8bNs
— daniel tosh (@danieltosh) July 10, 2012
the point i was making before i was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them. #deadbabies
— daniel tosh (@danieltosh) July 10, 2012
The same day, the apology was reported by Jezebel, Gawker, BoingBoing, The Huffington Post and Mashable. The viral content site BuzzFeed published a post titled “Comedy Club Owner Says Daniel Tosh Incident Has Been Misunderstood”, which included a statement by the Laugh Factory owner Jaime Masada claiming that audience member’s account was inaccurate:
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.”
On July 10th, comedian Louis C.K. sent Tosh a public tweet praising his show for making him laugh.
@danieltosh your show makes me laugh every time I watch it.And you have pretty eyes.
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) July 11, 2012
On July 11th, the controversy was approached by the hosts of the morning talk show The View, in which Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg defended the practice of telling rape jokes. The same day, comedians Patton Oswalt and Dane Cook commented on the subject via Twitter.
Wow, @danieltosh had to apologize to a self-aggrandizing, idiotic blogger.Hope I never have to do that (again).
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) July 11, 2012
If you journey through this life easily offended by other peoples words I think it’s best for everyone if you just kill yourself.
— Dane Cook (@danecook) July 11, 2012
On July 12th, The Onion published a satirical post titled “Daniel Tosh Chuckles Through Own Violent Rape.” The same day, Jezebel published an article titled “How to Make a Rape Joke”, which included several YouTube videos of jokes involving rape that had been deemed inoffensive by the author. The Austin, Texas culture blog Culture Map published an article titled “The Best Response We’ve Heard to Daniel Tosh’s Misquoted Rape Jokes”, which asked readers to imagine a world in which the practice of severing men’s penises was a common occurrence and the butt of stand-up comedy jokes. Also on July 12th, YouTuber TheAmazingAtheist uploaded a video titled “Tumblr Feminists”, which criticized the vilification of Tosh as a result of the Tumblr post for being pro censorship.
The Huffington Post – Daniel Tosh Apologizes For Rape Joke Aimed at Female Audience Member at Laugh Factory