Did Comedian Daniel Tosh Cross the Line with His Standup? [POLL]
Daniel Tosh is coming under fire for responding to a female heckler at the Laugh Factory who chastised him for allegedly saying on stage that rape jokes are always funny. He has since apologized by linking to her blog story.
What goes on in a comedy club should stay in the comedy club. Comedy clubs to me are the last true vestige of freedom of speech. When you’re on that stage, in a private room, where people have paid a cover charge and must order a minimum 2 drinks to see you, anything goes. The reason anything goes is because the audience realizes that it’s comedy, not to be taken seriously.
There are disclaimer signs posted in most clubs that drive that point home as well. Many times during my years performing at Catch A Rising Star, The Borgata, countless theatres, as well as my own Sarcasm Comedy Club, I’d see the audience react to a comic that has gone too far by simply pointing to the sign that says “Comedy” on the stage.
Suzy Yengo is the owner and National booker of Catch A Rising Star who weighed in with her opinion:
“There are many ways for a great comic to handle hecklers in a comedy show without reverting to the level of the heckler. I personally do not think discussing the rape of an audience member is one of them. But I do defend the first amendment rights of all comics and Americans”
Carl LaBove , an Original Outlaw on Comedy who toured with Sam Kinison during his glory days compared the pressure of comedy to the jesters who performed for the King living with the fear of having his head chopped off:
“I'm sure Tosh is a professional who works nightly on his craft, slinging jokes and stories in his home club, taking notes afterwards to use for future albums and sketch ideas for his TV show. In the heat of his performance, a woman said something, he reacted, things where said, she was offended, it made the news, we are all talking about it. Folks, we have all said something when stressed, that we wish we could take back. We have all overreacted to a situation when our feelings have been hurt, or an old wound has been reopened. It's both their faults for making me write about this. I've got better things to do. Make nice Tosh, and send her a card and flowers. "Sorry dear, that joke was funny in my head, but didn't come out right. I screwed up." Then she should twitter, "Daniel Tosh is a nice guy. He hurt my feelings and we made a big deal out of it. But all is forgiven now." Or... maybe for the betterment of these politically correct times, show business should cut his head off on national television!
If you took offense to everything that goes on in a comedy club, there would be no more comedy clubs, or even comedy for that matter. There would also be no more Denis Leary or Gilbert Gottfried or any other comic who makes their living walking the wire.
Between all the sex jokes, the racist jokes on all sides of the color barrier, the political jokes, etc you would always find something to be upset about. These things are not acceptable in the politically correct world that we live in but are alive and well in the comedy club. It’s tough being an edgy comedian today because everybody wants to go to the line but they don’t want you to cross it. The problem with that is that the line changes constantly and it’s hard to figure out where exactly the line is on a daily basis.
Joe Matarese is a Cherry Hill comic and who had his own Comedy Central special, appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and is regularly seen on “Chelsea Lately”
I feel if you yell out during a comedian's act you are always wrong! It's comedy - you have to keep that in mind! Plus if you yell out while we are performing, the audience expects us to take you down. What he said to her in the moment of her yelling out was like punching someone back when they swing first. When you heckle a great comic which Daniel Tosh is (and all yelling out in the middle of a comedian's joke is heckling), you should just run home immediately. It throws the rhythm and vibe off completely, and now you must pay. To me it's obvious when he said "rape is always funny" that he's joking. C'mon, you really think he means that? I'm sure what he said to her after she heckled him hurt her feelings way more than the joke itself. One: if you don't want to be offended at a comedy club, just stay home! Two: If you don't want to be verbally taken down at a comedy club... Just shut up and laugh!
Do I think Daniel Tosh was wrong to crack the joke? I think he reacted in a split second with something he thought would be funny and not taken out of the context of the moment. I know he didn’t mean it and so does his audience. I also know that it was done in the privacy of a comedy club where the people who paid to see Daniel Tosh knew specifically what they were getting. I’m sure we’ve both heard much worse.
I sincerely hope we don’t live in a world where we start censoring comedy clubs. Maybe before you go, you should check out the comic and see if that’s what you want. How do you feel? Please take our poll.