I am like any other person that is of comparable age and socio-economic status. I have done, said, and heard things that have later made me feel very deep regret not just about what I have done or said, but about the people from which I have heard these things. But in recent hours, I started to read about this comedian by the name of Daniel Tosh.
Daniel, I am sure people who read about stand-up comedians have been aware for a while, is in trouble because he made jokes about the act of rape. Okay, making a bad joke or one that is poorly received by your audience is a common event for comedians. Even the best stand-up comedians occasionally say something that makes the members of the audience think “huh, what the hell?”. One article I read about Richard Pryor some time ago has it that one of his first performances ended with him pausing, asking his audience in rhetorical fashion what the fukk he was doing there, and walking off.
I do not have the faintest idea who Daniel Tosh is outside of the news I have been reading about him recently. That should tell you something about how qualified he is to make jokes about subject matter where one misstep can get the audience wanting to rip your lungs out and feed you to a plastic shredder. Whilst I agree with the general consensus of comedians that no subject matter should be taboo in comedy, I am also very much in agreement with the comments that Curtis Luciani has made concerning Tosh’s act. I especially like the second point in what Luciani says that Tosh needs to understand.
Tosh has complained that if he can make jokes about genocide, he should be free to make jokes about rape. Well, Mister Tosh, as a publicly-revealed member of a hidden minority that an organised group is allowed to advertise its intentions to exterminate and yet claim charity status in the same breath, I want you to understand something. If the quality of your jokes about rape is commensurate with your jokes about genocide, I have a strong suspicion that you would not want me to be in your audience, either. Luciani‘s statement that you could have either been a man and talked to yourself about the fact that maybe your material or delivery is not good enough to justify the pain it inflicts on some or you could be a lousy piece of shit is dead on. You have been a lousy piece of shit.
Then I read about Tosh’s response to the publicity about the incident. I do not know if it is actually possible to dig a hole for yourself so big that nobody could ever lift you out of it, at least in the real, physical world, but Tosh has done it metaphorically. If I am understanding his side of it correctly, he was engaging in a routine based on proving a “point” that there is no subject about which something funny cannot be said. Or something like that. Apparently, the woman affected in this incident, for reasons that are not too clear to me from what I have read so far, tried to retort to Tosh that rape jokes are never funny. Scratch that, I have just read part of her account of what happened. I understand much better now. This would be like me going into a comedy club and hearing some awkward dingus who looks uncomfortable on stage repetitively insisting that jokes about how retarded autistic people look to him and how we should all be killed for the sake of the race and so forth are funny. In such an event, the “comedian” in question had better hope the club’s security are on the ball, because I would be leaping up like lightning to get at them.
I do not know this woman’s name. The site or informational feed or whatever it is that I read her account on is not forthcoming with such information. Not that I blame her, because revealing any identifying information about yourself on the World Wide Wait is a big thing, in spite of whatever Mark Fukkheadberg tells us. So I cannot address this person directly, but I want to tell her something. I am ashamed. I am ashamed because there were people guffawing, as you put it, in response to Tosh’s so-called comedy. Amongst me and mine, the entire audience would have been storming the stage, giving Tosh mere moments of margin before at least one of us got past security and within arm’s length of him. I am ashamed because I am an adult male and I live in a world where another adult male thinks that I will find what Tosh said even remotely funny. I am ashamed because there was even one person in that audience who did not immediately leap up and ask Tosh what in the name of Loki he thought he was doing.
Comedians frequently interact with their audience. To some degree or another, they might even use what the audience shouts at them as the basis for material. For instance, during the performance that was filmed for the Eddie Murphy video known as Delirious, one overly enthusiastic audience member shouted at Murphy that Reaganomics sucks. Murphy‘s response, after asking this audience member to repeat it just to make sure he heard right, was to mock both the obviousness of the statement and the white people who did not already know that Reaganomics sucked. That is how you interact in a positive manner with your audience. Mock their statement if you will, tell them that they have just said something that sounds moronic or might even get them lynched in certain neighbourhoods, but only a bad comedian makes the interaction with an audience member as thoroughly uncomfortable and upsetting as Tosh has done with this particular audience member. I can tell you without exaggeration that Tosh should get on his knees and thank Odin every day that he was not addressing a woman like the one I have, in different wording, previously referred to as my Rinzler. That woman would stand up, get in a good position, point at the floor just before her, and tell Tosh to stand right there and say what he said.
I have encountered all manner of jokes in my lifetime that are distasteful and have been labelled as offensive by some. One act that Andrew Denton interviewed in Canada provided a good example of this. Little to the knowledge of the comedian doing the talking at the time (the act consisted of three men if I remember correctly), the act was doing a show before an audience consisting of university students. One joke involved him saying something that I do not remember in whole, but ended with “land of legless women”, at which point stagehands brought in a group of individuals with varying handicaps (I think he implied that they were all paraplegic, but I was pre-pubescent when I saw this interview, so the memory is fuzzy). In the words of the man doing the speaking, nobody in the audience said a thing, it was just dead silence. They then supplement this account by saying it was all downhill from there. Downhill from dead silence, another member of the act reiterates.
This is a risk every person involved in communicating with an audience, however indirectly, runs. Whilst this particular comedy act was going with the tactic of really offending the audience and hoping they will laugh as opposed to ripping out furniture to throw at them, I can recall no time at which they actually directly interact with the audience. This is because when you are actively trying to offend your audience in a certain way in order to get them to laugh, getting too close to them is not a risk you want to take.
This is why I believe that Curtis Luciani‘s comments are so spot-on. He says, after asking if the Tosh in his hypothetical example is going to be a lousy piece of shit, that being offended has got nothing to do with it. He punctuates the statement with “moron”. Which is pretty damned accurate considering that Henry H. Goddard derived this term from an ancient Greek word, μωρός, that means “dull”, and Goddard used to describe a person with a mental age during adulthood between eight and twelve years. Funnily enough, this is about the age group in which I would expect even the slowest-developing mind to realise that a violent act targeting a person’s most sensitive parts has anything funny about it. The fact that the term moron has fallen out of use as a psychological term and is now pretty much exclusively an insult notwithstanding, I think it is a pretty accurate descriptor.
You see, I have often used words in my essays like interdependence. I have also written at prior times about how nobody does anything alone. Every woman has at least one male relative who, when an asshole like Tosh points at them and asks people nearby if it would not be funny if they were raped, are asking themselves how much funnier it would be if someone yanked the bits that make Tosh a man off Tosh and shoved them down his throat. Some of them have multiple such relatives. Some of these male relatives are likely to be much bigger than you, Tosh. In fact, given the images that I have seen of you, I am willing to bet that if I went around the Scandinavian nations, I could muster up a thousand men whose individual fingers are thicker than your legs. Some of these men will have sisters, mothers, or even daughters who have suffered the trauma of sexual assault. In fact, if I mustered up a thousand, and if statistics about rape are accurate (I sure hope they are not as grossly underreported as child abuse statistics), I believe I could reasonably expect to find two hundred men who have sisters, mothers, or daughters who have been sexually assaulted. Hell, fukk it, I am willing to bet that many of the women who can be found around Scandinavia are substantially bigger than you. (My previous post about the effect of presentation on culture and perception thereof had one music video linked into it in which Swedish operatic doom metallers Therion perform. The smaller of the two women in this video, Katarina Lilja, well… let me put it this way. If she is not taller than me (I am five foot eight and a good chunk of change, if that tells you anything), colour me surprised.)
Oh, and those people who leaped to Daniel Tosh’s defense, telling people like Karen Elson that she needs to get raped? You disgust me. I am ashamed that aliens on Proxima Centaurii, or Kali-Yuga, or Azeroth, or any out-there place who have never seen a Human before, might mistake me for having the slightest commonality with you.
Yes, I enjoy a lot of the work by punk musicians like GG Allin. I am not ashamed of that. I am ashamed that it is easy to believe that he might not have been simply fukking with people when he made songs like Expose Yourself To Kids or I Wanna Rape You. But one of the reasons, in fact probably the only reason I find Allin‘s work palatable is because he made songs that echo what I think when I read things like what Tosh said about a person who was paying for him to perform, or what some people have written about Karen Elson‘s comments about same. One of those songs is called Dog Shit (“everything that I see, everything you are to me”), and the other is called Legalize Murder.
A lot of what people say about or to me is true. I am not right in the head, so to speak. But when I point at people like Daniel Tosh or the people who have leapt to his bile-spewing defense, a pair of questions come to mind. One, what makes these people, particularly, right in the head? Two, can you seriously look into my face and tell me with the utmost seriousness that legalised competitive murder of these people is a bad idea?