On comedians and rape not being funny

July 11, 2012 at 15:49 36 comments

This is the first time I am hearing of Daniel Tosh. Apparently he’s a comedian, and a well known one at that. All good, I say.

Today, I came across a controversy where, during one of his shows in a club, he continuously made jokes about rape. He started with general statements in  support of rape jokes saying “they are always funny”, “rape his hilarious” etc . A girl, who happened to be at the show wrote a blog post about her experience and what happened while she was there.

An excerpt from her blog post:

So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”

And what has stunned me the most is what he did in response. Again quoting from the blog post, written in first person:

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…”

Did you read that? Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by 5 guys right now. Seriously?

Following the controversy, I see a lot of side issues, people defending the comedian saying “heckling” is a crime and if she disrupted his act, she asked for it. There are others who think she was absolutely right in doing so (Thank God) and more who think that for comedians nothing is taboo, and they can make a joke about anything from laughing over old people, to babies, to racism. There are still more who think this is Tosh’s style of humour so if you don’t like it, you stay away.


First of all, it disturbs me that anyone can find in their heart to laugh over a rape joke. I say it again and again, rape and joke don’t go together. Rape and laugh don’t go together. No matter what the context, rape is not a fun subject to build jokes around.

Well, for a moment, let me keep aside the context and my personal feelings regarding rape jokes. Let me go with the assumption that may be in this world there is an audience for such crap and comedians get popular by cracking “jokes” about rape, AND that in general “heckling” in the middle of a show is wrong, no matter what.

While I am digesting that, can some one please tell me what sort of a justified punishment for heckling is that a celebrity targets one girl and says it would be funny if she got raped by 5 guys right now?

How is THAT in any way acceptable? Here we are, getting up in arms about rape jokes not being funny in any context, and this man targets one particular victim and says such things? And he gets away with it?

And here’s his half-hearted apology on twitter :

“All out of context misquotes aside, I’d like to sincerely apologize,” he began, linking up to the aforementioned blog. “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.”

Lame. There were people defending him saying it’ his “style” to be outrageous and shocking …yada yada…

If this is what it means to have a sense of humour, well, sorry to say, I am completely lacking one.

PS: The comments in the linked up article are even more depressing.

Entry filed under: Causes to Champion, Here and There, Views on News, Viva la Femme. Tags: .

Good riddance to bad rubbish No title for this culture of silence

36 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Wanderer  |  July 11, 2012 at 17:16

    I bet it would be helluva funny if a bunch of us ganged up and beat this guy to death. A joke about death, his death, right? How about that?

    • 2. dauntlessdaisy  |  July 11, 2012 at 23:44

      I totally agree with you.

      • 3. Ashwathy  |  July 12, 2012 at 10:04

        Yep…. same here

        • 4. chandni  |  July 13, 2012 at 17:26

          I cannot get over his insensitivity.

  • 5. pixie  |  July 11, 2012 at 20:51


    • 7. chandni  |  July 13, 2012 at 17:33

      Same stuff posted everywhere. Doesn’t seem even a bit genuine.

  • 8. dauntlessdaisy  |  July 11, 2012 at 23:47

    I feel pity for the guy. Such people are what I call them educated illiterates. And on the part of making jokes about awful things in the world, Dude grow up! Think beyond your shows. Get human. And if not any of this, just keep your mouth shut.

    • 9. Wanderer  |  July 12, 2012 at 10:25

      More like literate un-educateds.

  • 10. celestialrays  |  July 12, 2012 at 00:48

    I might use up a lot of space to explain something, but what the hell, my apologies.

    A man once jerked off standing next to a sleeping me in a train. He ran away at some station once my mum caught him doing it. I was a very young girl back then, prolly in my early teens. Even if I had not seen him doing what he did, I knew about it from the commotion and it left me shaking. So what my mother did to deal with me in the days to come was genius.

    Every time I started the topic, she would make a joke on him. She’d say he was a nutter who might wank to flying birds, or was such a cheapo that maybe his hand was glued to his organ and other stuff that i dont even remember now. And those silly jokes, if one could call them that, said in a certain way, would make me laugh. She made me think of him as a sad, pathetic loser, but never an evil stronger force. She taught me comically that I was not under his mercy but he was the culprit who fled before an action could be taken against him. I grew out of the incident without fear, regret or anger. So comedy can be a very very powerful tool in impacting minds.

    But the kind of molest-jokes many comedians call their forte these days, subtly sells rape. It shows the victims in a “they deserved it” light and the rapists in a “they had so much fun” light.

    Had I been in the crowd that time when Tosh said what he did, I would have shouted back “Would you find it more funny if that girl then castrated those rapists?”. Heckling my ass.

    • 11. R's Mom  |  July 12, 2012 at 09:04

      I loved your comment CR! its so true about castrating the rapists!

      I cant believe people actually can joke about rape and even go and hear jokes about rape :(

    • 12. chandni  |  July 13, 2012 at 17:33

      I think I get your point, and totally agree!

  • 13. Shashi  |  July 12, 2012 at 10:23

    Wikipedia says Tosh suffers from social anxiety disorder. Maybe he’s trying to aggravate it and see what happens. Some celebrities just don’t know how to address their curiousity levels on such serious matters like rape, murder etc.,

  • 14. Prats  |  July 12, 2012 at 13:03

    I am not sure of what to make of the incident. Personally speak I do not approve of the incident but then it is the job of a Comedian to say inappropriate things which might get a response from the audience and sadly as you & the lady who heckled him mentioned he did get a response from the audience present.
    Not that I am supporting Tosh but the fact is it is people like us who appreciate only the inappropriate jokes and feel offended when it affects us in some way. Would the lady have left the show when he made a racist joke, or a gay joke because that is equally inappropriate and offending to certain people.
    I think it is the same point Tosh tried to make in his tweet that almost everything he would speak in his show would be offending to one person or the other; it is his job to make fun of it.

    • 15. chandni  |  July 13, 2012 at 17:34

      That bit I get and am willing to forgive, but in response to the heckling what he said to her particularly cannot be seen in any other light right?

  • 16. aniruddha pathak  |  July 12, 2012 at 15:50

    WTF how can one do something like that..theres no law that can stop this?

  • 17. The Girl Next Door  |  July 12, 2012 at 17:21

    How very disgusting is it to crack jokes about rape?!! Kudos to the girl who ‘heckled’ him.

    Actually, a lot of jokes in these so-called comedy shows are in very bad taste. I do have a good sense of humour, but I still do not find most funny. :|

  • 18. HappyFeet  |  July 12, 2012 at 23:54

    I’d like to ask Daniel Tosh now, which part of the mob molesting/gang raping a girl is funny? #GuwahatiMobMolestsAGirl

  • 19. The Bride  |  July 13, 2012 at 07:35

    It’s a tough topic because it intersects with freedom of speech and political correctness that is becoming increasingly oppressive. The extension of this train of thought is should we be having a list of taboo subjects which noone should joke about? Who decides that list?

    I liked this take on Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a-rape-joke?comment=50892454
    The idea being that it’s not that using rape as a premise is comedy should be outlawed but how you use it that matters. Are you making fun of the victim? Or the perpetrator? Kind of like CR’s example. One has to be a very sophisticated comedian to do it and clearly this guy was not.

    One of the comments on Jezebel also got me thinking. Is heckling the comedian an appropriate response… and I think it’s not. Standing up and pointedly leaving, then raising a debate later may have been.

    That said, if the heckler’s action was inappropriate, his response was even more. He could have just said “hear me out” and gone on with his set instead of targeting her.

    • 20. chandni  |  July 13, 2012 at 17:35

      As usual you echo my real thoughts but say it so much better :)

  • 21. Siddhartha Lal (@siddharthalal)  |  July 13, 2012 at 13:04

    Something I read on a blog I visit regularly that’s related to what you have been saying.


    • 22. chandni  |  July 13, 2012 at 17:35

      Thanks for sharing.

  • 23. mypatang  |  July 13, 2012 at 14:35

    I think this also explains the shameless attitude of the mob molesting a girl in Guwahati and how they made a spectacle of themselves while being shot for the whole duration. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/guwahati-s-shame-30-men-seen-molesting-girl-just-four-arrested-242840?pfrom=home-lateststories

    • 24. chandni  |  July 13, 2012 at 17:36

      Don’t even get me started on this one. I am depressed and ashamaed.

  • 25. Shobhit  |  July 14, 2012 at 21:16

    Even though I was aghast at the mere idea of having a joke about rape, I’m very sure there must have been, and are, lots of people out there who would actually find such a thing funny.

    We in India, seem to have developed a strange sense of humor. Don’t you see the rave reviews about movies which offer explicit abuses and foul language ? People just seem to go berserk with joy after every such movie.

    Youngsters find it extremely funny to use crass language while talking to each other. So, no wonder they may and do find things as rape to be funny. Perversion seems to be the latest ingredient for fun for people these days.

    My first time on your blog. Looking forward to read more from you.

    • 26. chandni  |  July 17, 2012 at 13:07

      How right you are! The movies and shows don’t think twice about cracking such jokes for “comedy” ….

  • 27. megha  |  July 16, 2012 at 21:22

    Tosh’s humor is really not humor a lot of times. I find it distasteful plenty of times. But this just is too much. His apology doesn’t even found sincere. Uggh.
    Here’s something else I find very offensive : http://fishingforcomments.blogspot.com/2012/07/not-funny.html

  • 28. amruta  |  July 16, 2012 at 21:24

    I completely agree with you. What Tosh did was disgusting, and completely unacceptable. What is more worrisome is that several people, and not just men, seem to think that rape jokes are fine if they are done in “good humor”. I distinctly remember the time we were watching the movie Golmaal, and I strongly objected to one of the scenes where they were mocking a rape scene and making jokes out of it. Most of my friends thought I was being unnecessarily over-sensitive. ‘Just enjoy n go with the flow’ seems to be the mantra of people.

    • 29. chandni  |  July 17, 2012 at 13:08

      Sigh. Tell me about it.

  • 30. Kann Mashi  |  July 16, 2012 at 23:56

    I love your blog…I love that you address such pertinent issues with common sense and courage (cause there are a lot of people online who can be really nasty if someone says something they don’t like). Do keep it up…and specifically regarding this post…we had a guy in college who when asked to express his views about life on a common board wrote “if rape is inevitable…lie back and enjoy it”…he was so proud of how cool he was…it wasn’t until a lot of us got mad at him and demanded an apology that he gave in…but with a shrug like ‘whats the big deal’…what surprises me is that a lot of men/boys get sexually abused too…why is it that they are so lacking in sensitivity regarding this issue then????

    • 31. chandni  |  July 17, 2012 at 13:08

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts. :)

  • 32. Serendipity  |  July 25, 2012 at 03:40

    Hi Chandni,

    I agree that Tosh said disgusting things in response to being heckled by the woman. Yet, I don’t buy the argument that you can’t make a joke out of some topic because it is offensive. That, on its totality, is quite a vague idea. Who polices that list? Who decides what is moral and immoral?

    Agreed joking about Rape is awful, insensitive and some of us can’t wrap our heads around how people can actually joke about it. Yet, lots of comedians do make jokes about everything under the sun and in the most despicable manner…rape/incest/pedophilia/holocaust…it doesn’t matter. When you buy tickets for a Tosh show you know what you are signing up for…

    Bob Saget, George Carlin, Louis CK…for example are famous comedians who haven’t been pulled up the way Tosh was. They are funnier and they have been edgier. There have been dirtier responses given by Comedians who have been heckled;

    Think about it. Is Rape the only topic that comedians shouldn’t joke about?

    Regards, Serendipity

    • 33. chandni  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:41

      Lovely thought provoking comment here! I think I understand your point. And I am willing to accept that it is dangerous to be absolute about such things because then where do we stop. That said, I think his response to the heckling was in genuine bad taste, also because he targeting a woman in particular and joked about her being raped. So that particular bit wasn’t just a joke on rape but on her rape. And that, I think is unacceptable. What do you think?

      • 34. Serendipity  |  July 26, 2012 at 17:30

        Honestly, I think his response was not funny at all.
        However, I do not think it is unacceptable behavior, given the context of the situation.

        And I hate to link to this; but here is a segment where George Carlin (RIP) is trying to explain why rape can be funny: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUVjZPVj1Pk

        That is what I think Tosh was trying to do. I can’t think that he literally wanted that woman to be raped right at that moment. It would have been an awful thought.

        I mean, I am putting this in perspective with how comedians usually snarl at a heckler when interrupted during a show.

  • 35. Santosh  |  July 26, 2012 at 11:37

    Who is this Tosh? Remind me again why comedians are necessary. I haven’t been to any comedy shows, and I don’t miss their contributions. I think if more of us should start ignoring such pointless entertainment. If he/she has no audience then they have no power any more. Just my two cents.

  • 36. Dia  |  October 25, 2012 at 18:07

    I agree with you about rape not being funny.

    But were you laughing at Chatur’s speech in the movie “Three Idiots”?
    Why go for a foreign comedian? Aren’t we Indians just as bad laughing our heads off about “Balatkar”, flocking to theatres to see this movie and watching this particular scene on youtube more than a million times? And this movie won accoladas and awards?

    I recently read a post by Kiran Manral on her blog karmickids, where she took her son to watch this movie and the child asks his mother: What does balatkar mean?

    Imagine the child associating this word with a theatre full off people laughing their head off while this speech is being given.

    I would like to ask you your question?
    Is rape funny?


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