NPF: THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE

To people who say money can't buy happiness, I don't agree. The price of happiness is whatever it costs to buy a Jet-Ski. Ever seen anyone frown on a Jet-Ski? You haven't, because it's not possible. (*acts out sobbing while Jet-Skiing*)

That, delivered well, is funny. It's a Daniel Tosh joke. I consider it evidence that Daniel Tosh has the ability to be funny. He understands how a joke works. It starts with a universal premise and then takes an amusing twist that the audience is unlikely to see coming. Then it's acted out to emphasize how ridiculous the twisted premise is in reality. Good one, Dan.

Eventually, however, he realized that shock value is one of the cornerstones of humor, and a particularly easy one for a moderately clever person to exploit. Why bother writing good material when you can just say a bunch of "Oh no he di'int!" stuff? So Daniel Tosh got lazy and decided it was easier to do a bunch of shock material rather than write jokes. The problem is that over time it has been more difficult to shock audiences. Sex? Porn? Whackin' it? Dead babies? Racism? Abortion? Audiences are used to all of it at this point. As Jane's Addiction once warned us, nothing's shocking (anymore). You can only say "faggot" so many times and tell so many stories about masturbating. We get it. You're edgy.

So, there's rape. Rape is still offensive because, you know, it's horrible. It still shocks people. And it's OK to make jokes about things that are shocking. The problem is that most comedians are too lazy (or too stupid) to figure out how to tell a joke properly about something terrible. Here's a joke I use as an opener quite often.

It's so hot down here during the summer that I actually walked up to an Atlanta cop and begged him to shoot me.

*pause for tepid chuckle*

…and it would have worked if I was black.

*pause*

I'm kidding, of course. If you're black you don't have to ask an Atlanta cop to shoot at you.

I'm kinda proud of that one. It's not straightforward ("Cops are racists, amirite?") but it uses some misdirection humor to make the audience think about something that is fucked up. Racism: It's a Terrible Thing. So it's possible to tell a joke that makes people remember, "Oh, right…rape is a serious problem and it happens all the time, and it's ridiculous to believe stupid things like 'She was asking for it'." An uncharacteristically strong column on Jezebel includes a lengthy discussion of this point, with examples.

Daniel Tosh leans on rape jokes like Katt Williams leans on the F-word. They're not particularly well thought-out or funny. He just says "rape" a lot to keep things "edgy." And in that context – if the rape or the rape victim are the butt of the joke – it just isn't funny. His Twitter account has a "#rape" hashtag with dozens of jokes and references. His TV show includes at least one in every episode.

The problem with this whole ToshTroversy started here: with Tosh telling yet another stupid, un-clever, and lazy rape joke. People coming to his defense and wailing about censorship – a common response among comedians – miss the point. This is a classic Can vs. Should problem. You CAN say whatever you want. Should you? Should you tell a story in which your "clever" twist is that someone gets gang raped at the end? Sure, I guess…if you suck at comedy.

I have a lot of things to say about heckling, and that is the part of this story on which I originally focused. No matter what the comedian says and no matter how justified you believe you are, yelling at the stage is always an asshole move. Sorry. Try doing comedy sometime and you will understand what I mean. Comedy is not just a person talking, it's a person doing a performance that he or she has practiced hundreds of times and that relies entirely on flow and timing. If you fuck that up, the performer is going to be an asshole to you. He or she is going to do whatever is possible to get you to shut up and stop ruining the act as quickly as possible. The audience paid to see the performance, and it is a dick move to stop it akin to talking loudly on a cellphone in a movie theater.

But the more I think about it, the heckler is not the important issue here. The take home point is that he/she-got-raped jokes are lazy, stupid, and only amusing to dolts. Taking the low road and going for the easy shock laugh does not take talent and does not make one good at comedy. Audiences have to be sentient and willing to think a little bit about what they hear in a comedy club – if you decide that you are offended by any mention of rape in any context on a comedy stage, you're not much brighter than the people who laugh at Tosh. And if the comedian isn't thinking carefully about the substance of the joke – Who's the butt of the joke here? What's funny about this, and why? What am I trying to say? – he's not doing his job.

So this controversy has a relatively simple solution: Comedians, stop being lazy dickbags. Don't tell jokes that have no purpose beyond shocking or offending the audience. Try saying something useful. If you're unwilling or unable to do that, then at least avoid being hateful and offensive. Tell some fart jokes or something. Even if you don't care whether the audience is offended or belittled, self interest should be enough to talk you out of this. Nothing says "I'm a hack" quite like rape jokes. You're not edgy or clever. You're a cliche. Don't you want to be a little better than that?

(PS: Seriously though, stop yelling shit at the stage. Everyone who does it thinks they have a great reason. Most of them are wrong.)

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121 Responses to “NPF: THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE”

  1. Forgetful Man Says:

    So yelling at the stage is off limits. It ruins the night for everybody. I get that.
    Let's say the comedian is a lazy hack. He's ruining the night for everybody. Now what?
    Boo? Just like a comedian will say anything to shut up a heckler as fast as possible, might an audience member want to make a hack shut up as fast as possible?

    As a comedian, how do you suggest we respond in a club setting to a joke so bad, so lazy, so inept that is offensive to me as a (fill in the blank)?

  2. J. Dryden Says:

    Oh, Daniel, Daniel–did you learn nothing from Michael Richards? Repeat afte me: "Current technology being what it is, do *not* double-down on the 'edgy' when an audience member challenges your alpha-male-dom."

    Hecklers are the lowest form of fucking life imaginable. Oh, there are plenty of worse people, but nobody's lower, cheaper, dumber. But, Daniel, the thing is: Nobody ever remember what the heckler says. Ever. (This is primarily because no heckler has ever said anything worth remembering.) All they remember is what *you* say–*you*, the guy with the microphone and the salary with the morals clause and the advertisers ready to abandon you in the face of a boycott. *You*.

    The (I agree, excellent) column by Lindy West (though if you want your blood to curdle with misanthropy, read some of the comments) makes a pretty simple point: Pretty much anything can be joked about–rape, the Holocaust, female circumcision, pedophilia, anything. Because the human capacity to deal with horror by laughing at it is actually one of those truly awesome qualities of our species–the kind of thing that aliens who visit Earth in movies always comment upon as making "unique in all the galaxy."

    But.

    But the more offensive a subject is, the more talented you have to be to joke about it successfully. It's why, say, Lenny Bruce could do a lengthy routine on the word "n*gger" and everyone laughed, and no one with a brain took offense, whereas…well, Michael Richards. You see what I mean. Daniel, you're talented enough to be funny. You're not talented enough to tell jokes about rape. So just be funny, and cash your checks. And if someone heckles you, remember: she's going home to a life that is as go-nowhere pointless as yours is full of hookers and blow. Think that, and tell her she's had her fun, and now she can fuck off, and let the bouncers do their jobs.

    Except he won't. Because that wouldn't be "edgy." And because somehow, somewhen, "edgy" became the requirement for a comedian's auto-fellatio. Not "funny." "Funny" meant "sell-out." "Edgy" meant "pure," "still an artist," "prophet of Dionysus." But unless you're Hicks, or Carlin, or Pryor, it pretty much just means "I will take something you are stupid enough to value or love and shit all over it just to shock you, so here's my impression of Eleanor Roosevelt tribbing Gilda Radner in Hell!" And if you've had to sit through an evening's worth of such comedians, you know how goddamned *tiring* it is–not for the banality of the material, but the self-congratulatory smugness of the performers. Frankly, Daniel, that's your sin here–not making jokes about rape, not even making bad jokes about rape, but about being proud about making bad jokes about rape.

    Largely unrelated, but Ed's stand-up is pretty goddamned funny. Even and especially the Michelle & Marcus Bachmann routine. Now *that's* comedy–it's funny, because they're both just…awful.

  3. wes Says:

    No one has yet brought up that David Cross did probably the greatest rape joke of all time- about being raped by the apparition of the Virgin Mary- it was genius for being so absurd and turning the tables on how ridiculous it is to believe in unreal things acting in real ways.

  4. Jer Says:

    Well said Ed and J. Dryden.

  5. Patrick Says:

    "Nothing's Shocking" indeed. And that was back in like, what, 1988?

  6. Patrick Says:

    @Forgetful Man: it's not that yelling at the stage is off limits, it's almost always unnecessary and unwanted. It's not just unwanted by the comic on stage, but also by everyone else in the audience. I've been to a good handful of comedy shows in the past year and not once was the material so shitty or so poorly delivered that I felt compelled to interrupt the show in any way, so I don't think your hypothetical question is one that is likely to be useful to you, even if you get an answer to it from Ed or anyone else who does stand up.

    Anyway, many a comedian will encourage some type of verbal response from all or some audience members at some point during his/her set so you might get a chance to speak to the stage, if not yell at it, in a way that will not annoy everyone else that is there.

  7. Xynzee Says:

    I think what you said on FB made some real sense, about walking out. Though I think that's only part of the story.

    A more pointed form would be to demand your money back as one leaves—which may or may not be met with success—as it sends a pointed reminder to the venue that this performer has become a liability.

    Sadly, the human species seems to have no depths to deep that cannot be dredged for shock value. Limp-bough, Beck(erhead) and Stern prove this.

  8. bb in GA Says:

    Last time I checked, those places that have comedians often sell alcohol as a helpful revenue stream (:-)) for the biz.

    Few things so readily available to most people help bring out the inner a-hole than being ripped. Your perception is that you are oh so very suave and de-boner. and quite witty. Some people show their nasty. On the happy side, ever hear a bunch of drunks singing? When in that state you think you're quite good.

    As a side note, if you are a musician and use weed and also are not high all the time – make some recordings of you and your band while y'all are stoned. It will break you of the notion that "It helps me reach that special creative place…" etc.

    This is not a temperance message as I drink various and sundry w/ my supper on a regular basis.

    //bb

  9. ladiesbane Says:

    I agree completely with this post — which is a relief, since most of the comedian interviews I've read for the past 300 years emphasize that "hey man, there's no cow too sacred, my comedy has no limits" — a sentiment of the funny and unfunny alike, and usually not true.

    But two things I see non-comedians joking about now are rape and pedophilia. (When I say "joking," I mean both cracking wise and employing the terminology of both varieties of sexual assault in a casually dismissive idiom.) When did pedophilia, particularly, start being hilarious to people?

    I understand that the internet is basically the reason a grandmotherly coworker will use the term "safe word" in a meeting, and have everyone know what she means (and not blink at its use.) I understand that everyone has different triggers and boundaries and laugh-buttons. But humor makes ideas attractive; it can sell anything.

    I don't worry about Daniel Tosh being a look-Ma-I'm-edgy! asshole; I worry about a funny guy like Zach Galifianakis cultivating pedophilia as a cute-and-coy aspect of his persona. The FBI should probably confiscate his hard drive, but the audience just laughs and laughs.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    For what it's worth, I think Tosh is an asshole.

    In the hands of a Bruce, Pryor, Carlin, or some other great comic, rape may just possibly be made to be funny. Though I doubt it. When's the last time anyone laughed at, "Well, you
    might as well just lay back and enjoy it!"?

    But just doing rape joke after rape joke, to get a rise out of an audience, isn't much different from a young child learning a dirty word and the repeating it over and over again for shock value.

    As noted above, humans have a virtually endless capacity to laugh at tragedy.
    Here's a definition:

  11. c u n d gulag Says:

    Don't be fooled – I didn't just take mercy on everyone here and write a short comment with and indeterminate ending.
    Somehow, my comment was cut short.
    Coincidence?
    I think not.
    Maybe I'll take that as a hint for future comment.

    Here's the definition, and the rest of my comment:
    “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”
    ― Mel Brooks

    Now, I think Brooks is one of the funniest men in history. But that's what's funny from his individual perspective.

    Groups of humans, I think, react differently. Many, if not most, times, people monitor one another and take their response from that groups reaction. You may find yourself laughing along with others at something you don't really think is funny. "Well, THEY'RE laughing, and I don't want to look like I don't get it."
    And all of that's fine. We've all laughed at unfunny sh*t 'cause the people around us did.

    But humankind's capacity to laugh at genuine tragedy, is often limited, or should be, to the people who survived the tragedy.

    Both sides of my family went through all sorts of Hitler's Labor Camps as they escaped westward from Russia with the Germans, and most of them survived.
    They then ended up in Displaced Persons Camps, hoping to be able to move to America, England, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc. – ANYWHERE but back to Russia.

    They always told stories that were "black humor" funny – TO THEM!

    If I tried to tell a joke about the same things THEY did, they would never laugh. They'd tell me to sit down and shut-up, that I didn't know what I was talking about since I wasn't there. And how dare I joke about such a tragedy?
    "Well, YOU DO!" doesn't work.

    To get to my point, after my usual long string of word-turds – it would take a very, very, talented comedian to make rape funny to people who weren't raped – but especially those who were.
    Shock-value humor isn't "sophomoric" – it's 'grade-schoolic.'

    Maybe someone who actually was raped could get away with it, and provide some humor to appeal to people's capacity to find humor in the worst things.

    Tosh should stop.
    Rape's NOT funny in HIS hands.
    He's just going for the shock value – which is childish and insensitive.
    Stick to poop, pee, and fart, jokes – we ALL can relate to those!

    Oh, and when I've been to comedy clubs, if the opening acts aren't funny, rather than heckle, I leave quietly and go to the bar, or out for a smoke.
    And if it's the headliner, I just quietly tell the people I'm sitting with goodbye, and go home.

  12. Pat Says:

    PS: Seriously though, stop yelling shit at the stage. Everyone who does it thinks they have a great reason. Most of them are wrong.

    I had a great reason, in fact I had six of them, but the club (hic) made me buy the first two.

  13. Undesirable Element Says:

    Louis CK is probably my current champion of "edgy" comedy. He can even mock himself for stooping so low, but then he'll go lower… somehow making it better. Maybe it's his brutally self-deprecating demeanor that sells it, I'm not sure.

    He had a bit about seeing a beautiful couple in the street, and he wanted to see what their kid looked like. He starts off with, "Maybe I want to fuck their kid."

    (The audience reacts with discomfort)

    "That's just me saying something terrible just because it makes me laugh that it upsets you, that's all that is. I'm not gonna fuck a kid. I wouldn't do that…[beat]…maybe a dead kid. Who are you hurting? He's dead! Who are you hurting? I'm not saying I would kill a kid and fuck him, I'm saying that if I found a dead kid in a field, and it wasn't raining, I might take a shot, I don't know."

  14. Pat Says:

    Is there a word for "bored fury"? Because seemingly every time someone tricks me into reading Jezebel, I get caught stuttering between an urge to yawn and one to curse. It breaks after a moment, but I'm pretty sure that Tourette's is just what happens when that stutter turns into the cerebral equivalent of BSOD and you just get stuck there. Or maybe that's where internet comments sections come from…. Anyway.

    Probably I come down on the side against anyone who's got a definite theory about rape jokes. This obviously includes the "rape is never funny" position (Carlin's obvious, here, and Borat; so is Blazing Saddles and the "Hand Banana" episode of ATHF; I actually think Louis CK's bit is too angry—I think that whole hour is too angry—really to be funny, and I hadn't heard of the Cross bit), and any knee-jerk reaction against any consequence for free (poorly chosen) speech. But likewise it includes the imagined middle ground of "just don't make rape jokes about the rape victims," which sounds about right until you think about it for two seconds. (How many angelic rape victims can dance on that pinhead, anyway?) There's no theory to laughter, just reality—what makes people laugh makes 'em laugh. The corollary to this, though, is that you don't need a "That's not funny because…" to explain it. If the joke dies, "That's not funny" is all you need.

    Grownups in the room can recognize the subtle dilemma (jokes about rape can be funny, but don't you realize you're playing with dynamite, dumbshit, and it's going to end your set if you aren't 100% right with it? on the other hand, the allure of the forbidden—and the chance to do something that hard—is why so many fools feel tempted to try in the first place… ) without demanding a tidy resolution. Or as a funnier guy put it, "certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man."

  15. Pat Says:

    You know what? I'm finally reading the original blog post linked in the Jezebel piece to which Ed linked, and no:

    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!”

    Anyone who doesn't recognize the Carlin bit that Tosh is biting word for word by now?

  16. bb in GA Says:

    @Ed

    Your joke about (I assume White Racist ) Atlanta Cops (none of the APD on my Christmas Card list) is rooted firmly in 1953…

    Breakdown of the makeup of the rank and file of APD [2]:

    Male: 83%
    Female: 17%

    African-American/Black: 57%
    Caucasian/White: 41%
    Hispanic: 1%
    Asian: 1%

    So if more than half the APD are Black that means many teams are multi-racial and that the minority team members are just going go along w/ racially based mayhem w/ no objection…not?

    //bb

  17. bb in GA Says:

    @xynzee

    "going go along" Have I channeled an Aussie phrase here? should be "going to go along"

    //bb

  18. anotherbozo Says:

    Tosh 2.0 or whatever the number is the program a couple of minutes of which I usually record when I'm recording Stewart/Colbert during the regular season. Sometimes I watch. I remember a shot of him sitting bareassed on a toilet making as if he was constipated. THAT Tosh?

    Either I'm a totally out of touch, Good Ol' Days geezer of the kind I used to hate when younger, or comedy at least as seen on non-HBO teevee has become mostly unfunny, lowest-common-denominator swill. When you mention rape jokes I think of Sarah Silverman, trying always to be edgy or double-ironic and failing to get a laugh either way, at least from me. Please somebody mention a really funny younger comic, quick. I'm stuck with Louis Black and Bill Maher and Chris Rock, hardly youngsters any more. Louis CK has moments, only.

    Ed's Atlanta joke has the benefit of universality, at least as far as NYC. Remember Amadou Diallo, etc. etc. Black cops, yes, shoot black citizens with ease. It's the uniform, thilly.

  19. jon Says:

    I work at a prison. If you want to hear tales of evil and irony… it's the place to go. Rape jokes? It's a place where "punk" and "bitch" are two terms that will start a fight almost instantly. It's a place where legal strategies are discussed between dullards and simpletons. It's a place where a guy who had his eyes and throat removed has his death described as "well, it was Kosher" because the bloodletting was so complete. (That was seasoned staff.)

    But my all-time favorite has to be this one: a guy was on trial for rape and murder. Evidence was going to lead to a needle in the arm. Then comes the part inmates argue about… was it a Genius Lawyer Trick? was it actually true? The guy confessed to murder THEN rape. Got a life sentence instead. You see, if you're just a normal guy of sound mind who rapes a woman and then treats her like she's a useless commodity… you're sane and eligible for an IV exit from this mortal coil. But if you take a woman and kill her, but defile her corpse with your seed in such a way that there's no way children could result, that's crazy! You need treatment! You're doing it wrong!

    It's a funny world we live in. Don't forget to laugh now and then.

    Another favorite, not on the subject at hand, was a guy who said it was his parole officer's fault he got more prison time. See, when he was out of prison, the police suspected he was selling drugs. The police informed the parole officer that they were going to run a sting. Then they did. And dude got eight years. His profound legal theory is that he can't be charged because his parole officer should have "violated" him and had him put back in prison on the local police's word. Genius.

    I hate my job because it killed my empathy for my fellow man.

  20. bb in GA Says:

    @anotherbozo

    Since we are both long time readers, we have a shot knowing where Ed is coming from on White Southerners.

    I am judging his motive (a dangerous thing to do) in this Atlanta Cop joke. I believe the target of his barb is White Racist Atlanta Cops. In fact, that assumption is what makes the joke "work" imo.

    The fact that there are Black cops who might be violent to Black citizens would not seem to make it on the comedic level.

    His animus is obvious to me (maybe I'm judging incorrectly) and is based on history both here and in his standup routine.

    Of course, Ed can have the last word.

    //bb

  21. acer Says:

    @anotherbozo:

    I've ALWAYS thought Tosh was a charmless hack, and seeing the LA scene and Comedy Central enable him astounds me. I suppose his TV show is a sign of the cash-strapped, LCD times.

    There are no comedy prodigies – I'm sure Louis Black and Chris Rock sucked hard for years to get where they are, and I can think of a few younger comics who may yet join their ranks. I'd recommend James Fritz as one who mixes anger, politics, and self-deprecation.

  22. Radical Scientist Says:

    With rape jokes, there are two obvious pitfalls. One is treating rape like a serious, but comically outlandish, tragedy. Something akin to decapitated skull-fucking. Which, when 25% of women have been sexually by the time the CDC surveys them in college…well, living the sheltered life I do, I'd make a skull-fucking joke without thinking twice. But if I were doing stand-up for a group of war-crimes survivors, I'd take a close look at any UN reports of corpse desecration, and go with some nice masturbation jokes instead.

    The second is treating rape as though it's taboo for no good reason, like masturbation. If your rape jokes amount to 'Hurr, I said a dirty word!,' that shows you don't know what you're talking about, you're a little too comfortable with rape as something that just happens sometimes, and yeah, you're going to lose a sizable percentage of your audience who have been raped (or know someone who has.) Half the crowd will avoid being alone with you in the parking lot later, and you shouldn't leave your drink alone with the half that thinks you're a little too awesome.

  23. Grumpygradstudent Says:

    To me, this is simply a matter of numbers and probability. Nobody would go up to somebody who's child just died and make dead baby jokes. But a comedian might make that kind of joke because they'd make the guess that most people in the audience had not just lost a child. It's a fairly rare occurence.

    Rape is not a rare occurence. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% of women are raped or molested in their lifetimes. So if you're gonna make a rape joke on stage, you're gonna be talking to people who have been raped or are close with somebody who has been raped.

    I could safely make a joke about Ebola on stage. Sure, if somebody in the audience had lived somewhere people died of Ebola, they'd probably want to say, "hey, Ebola isn't funny!" And they'd be right. But the likelihood of that is low.

    I actually think shock comedy for shock comedy's sake can be funny. Not VERY funny. Not genius, clever, make you feel something in your soul funny, but it can be mildly amusing. I agree that it's lazy and increasingly hard to do. (sidenote: I remember when my friends started entering the medical field for work that I was no longer able to gross them out with words). But if you're gonna do that, you should know your audience. Being a dick to people by pouring salt in their wounds isn't gonna be funny to them.

  24. Grumpygradstudent Says:

    @Radical, sorry for pretty much repeating what you said. I think we posted at the same time.

  25. Radical Scientist Says:

    Yep. Jinx.

    Hell, I'd even deleted a line where I worked out the odds: Using the CDC 1-in-4 numbers, if 10 people come to your Open Mic at Jim Bob's Chuckle Shack, the chance one of them is a sexual assault survivor is somewhere north of 75%. Have an actual audience, and it's pretty much certain. Shit, Tosh got off easy. If people were less polite, he'd have been dodging beer bottles.

  26. Chicagojon Says:

    @bb

    I'm confused as to why you don't get the cop shooting joke (which is great BTW). What part of 'cops and their authority are fucked up', 'there's racism in Atlanta/America', & 'it's hot' doesn't come through? That's definitely not stuck in 1953 — it's relevant from circa 1492~2012.

    It doesn't matter what race the cop is — it's a authority and racism joke that's funny and a good reminder that the current authority is fucked and the continued existence of racism is fucked. And as stated it does all of this with a twist (and without a long winded lead in). Atlanta and the heat only serve to make it local and to give a reference to the weather — both great touches that of course add to the joke. It's great.

    I'd laugh my ass off at this joke if a similar template was used with rape as the center instead of authority/cops. Hell, I bet it would be a great way to get women in the audience on your side by showing them in a 3 line joke that you acknowledge that rape exists/is widespread & that you think it's fucked up.

  27. JTM Says:

    I still say this is about heckling and not rape.

    Nobody has the right to interrupt a performance. And when that happens, the gloves should come off. I don't even think the comic has an obligation to shut down the heckler in a humorous way (it's awesome if they do, but that's not his job). If the heckler goes home disturbed and weeps themselves to sleep, all the better.

    You don't get to interrupt a performance of any kind when you're in the audience, regardless of your personal issues, be they rape, abortion, the holocaust, or ebola.

    People think that everything is a debate and that we all get to act like YouTube commenters whenever we feel like it. STFU and enjoy your drink. If you're unhappy with the content of the show, leave. Those are your options. Speaking up and interrupting the performer is not.

    It doesn't matter if you think Tosh is a lazy hack. You don't get to heckle.
    It doesn't matter if you think the material is offensive. You don't get to heckle.
    It doesn't matter if you get flashbacks of your tour in Vietnam. You don't get to heckle.

    Seriously, fuck hecklers.

  28. Arslan Says:

    I liked the article on Jezebel but she really undermined herself by presenting Borat as a good example. Rape jokes- bad, making fun of poor countries and totally misrepresenting them on every level- No problem! I'm a white woman living in the West so those people exist for my entertainment. Borat also makes fun of prostitution in Kazakhstan. If you're aware of what goes on in connection with that, you wouldn't laugh.

    Most nationalities realize they have some funny peculiarities about their culture and they aren't so disturbed if people poke good-natured fun at them. But when you misrepresent them to the point where your hero, a man who is supposed to be a member of this nationality, doesn't remotely resemble a member of said nationality, it's just cruel and unnecessary. Not to mention the "crazy Eastern-European guy" is old as fuck. Anyone remember the "Wild and Crazy Guys?"

  29. jc Says:

    JTM, I have to disagree. In most situations you are correct, but the territory Tosh was treading on was already more in violation of other peoples' boundaries than a little heckling. He's perfectly free to say what he wants, but if he doesn't want a response like that, it's HIM that should shut his goddamn piehole, not the woman.

    As far as I'm concerned, if all he gets is a little heckling and some public finger-wagging, he's getting off extremely lightly.

  30. bb in GA Says:

    @Chicagojon

    I might be trapped in a racial lensing situation here. I am also very linear (engineer)

    How can this be about Racism ™ when counting Asians and Latinos 60% of the APD is NOT-white? Have all the minority cops gone on a power trip and absorbed the Racism from Whites? I get the authority is out of whack part. By why the racism part?

    Again linearity – if a suspect or a perp gets shot by the cops in ATL, just a raw number probability says the shootee is gonna be Black.

    You, imo, are explaining it away by saying it just local 'color' to place it in ATL and talk about the heat.

    I apologize for my density, but I think the stereotype is stuck in the past …or maybe I am.

    Only Ed can answer these questions or at least opine.

    //bb

  31. JTM Says:

    Sorry, JC – but your "boundaries" as an audience member don't matter. That's why there's a guy with a microphone, and it ain't you. You want to express your opinion about rape jokes, holocaust jokes, or fart jokes to an audience at the Laugh Factory? Get yourself booked there.

    If you go to a play, and as the play rolls on, you realize that the theme of the play is that Ayn Rand's philosophies were pure genius and everyone who thinks otherwise is a pinko commie, do you stand up and shout at the actors? No, you walk out if it bothers you that much. Stand up comedy should be no different.

  32. Chicagojon Says:

    @bb

    It's about racism because of who we know is being shot/pulled over/frisked/asked for their papers/etc every day in America — disproportionately minorities. This is ingrained in the culture and it doesn't need to be spelled out who is more likely to be frisked in NY, asked for papers in AZ, or shot by a cop in Atlanta. We 'know' that these are more likely to be minorities/non-whites because it's true & the data backs it up so strongly that everyone knows it.

    I do agree that I can't get inside Ed's mind to know if ATL and the heat is local color – that's just my interpretation of the joke. It is, however, quite clearly an agreed point within the 'did you ever notice' type joke setup that racism is in effect and cops are racist. I don't think these have to be explained to the audience. I can see why the actual breakdown of local cops would effect how you hear the joke, but my brain dismisses that as being more universal and doesn't focus on that.

    I still think it's funny. Cheers.

  33. acer Says:

    @JTM:
    Aside from performers, most people don't know what a party foul it is to heckle. Most hecklers, particularly the drunks, think they're helping. Comedians have an arsenal of techniques to diffuse hecklers without blowing the show, which they get a lot of practice employing.

    Tosh is 37 years old. A 37-year-old headliner with his own show on Comedy Central. When met with a predictable heckle, he responded by bullying an audience member in a deeply disturbing way. He hurt more than a few people and damaged his own career for this.

    I wouldn't give the heckler a pass. But I'm reluctant to consider Tosh an entertainer, too.

  34. xaaronx Says:

    bb in GA: My friend Ice Cube will explain it to you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPWgbJH_hdU

  35. Elle Says:

    I love this post, and I think all those drawing a distinction between rape jokes, and jokes about rape, make an important point.

    I don't really recognise the Special Snowflake rape survivor people are talking about, who thinks that any mention of rape by a comedian is the end of the world. Rape is pretty isolating, so one thing that is really prevalent among people who have been raped is trying to contextualise the experience via the consumption of media, including comedy, in which rape is referenced. (I feel like I could write a pretty decent analysis of rape storylines and mentions in mid-to-late 90s teen-oriented media available in the UK.)

    The first man I ever heard talk about rape as if it was a bad thing was, ironically, a comedian. He had a slot on some edgy current events show, and he did a whole bit on a judge who, in sentencing a teenaged rapist, had required that he give her money to go on holiday, to 'get over' the whole thing. I was 16, and was totally overwhelmed by the idea (which is completely offensive on about ten levels, I understand) that some men thought it was worth going to bat for women and girls.

    If it exists at all, the mainstream discussion of rape, especially of children, is stuck between dudebro Tosh-esque jokes, and this othering cesspit of saccharine, illiberal handwringing. I loved the Brass Eye pedophilia episode, which was absolutely withering about media portrayals of rape and abuse that are stupid and dangerous, and think it's possibly time for some smart comedian to do something of an update.

    I'm by no means a comedy afficionado, but I do like it, and have access to a lot of it, and go to about 15-20 shows a year. It's really, really hard to avoid rape jokes, even if you read reviews carefully, and get recommendations from people you know. Now rape jokes just make me feel miffed that I paid for someone to be a dick about me in a super unimaginative way, but they used to make me feel terrible. I'm sure that there are people all over the internet making irksomely wild declarative statements about the incompatibility of humour and rape. With slightly cringing remembrance of how annoying I was when I was angst ridden and traumatised, I would ask you, if you haven't already, to give them a little bit of grace.

    @Ladiesbane – I loved your comment, as usual, and am completely skeeved by this Zach Galifianakis thing.

  36. ladiesbane Says:

    While I think Tosh should fry in the media, I can't stand hecklers. JTM put it nicely, but I'll add that, as a paying customer, I didn't fork over cash in hopes someone from the audience would interrupt.

    It's like going to a movie and hearing some jerk share his running commentary at street volume. Folks who do that would make the Buddha lose his cool. He'd be flicking Raisinets along with the rest of us.

  37. Elle Says:

    I liked the article on Jezebel but she really undermined herself by presenting Borat as a good example. Rape jokes- bad, making fun of poor countries and totally misrepresenting them on every level- No problem! I'm a white woman living in the West so those people exist for my entertainment. Borat also makes fun of prostitution in Kazakhstan. If you're aware of what goes on in connection with that, you wouldn't laugh.

    This is all so true.

  38. jc Says:

    JTM, those analogies don't work. I'm not talking about political differences. I'm not even talking about being "offensive". I fucking hate that word. The whole "offensive/PC" dichotomy is such a ridiculous distortion of this issue. I don't have a problem with what he did because it hurts my delicate widdle feelings. I have a problem because what he did is unethical in the extreme.

    A better analogy might be telling jokes to a largely black audience about lynching which *specifically* make the victim the butt of the joke. Or jokes to an audience of Iraq vets about war traumas and PTSD which *specifically* trivialize the victims' experiences and imply that it was their own fault, or that they're just pussies who shouldn't expect any sympathy, cause what happened to them is funny.

    There is a very, very large portion of our society (nearly every society, really) that has been raped and/or sexually assaulted at some point. It's fairly safe to say that a significant number of those people have some form of PTSD that they deal with every day, often with severe impact on their abilities to live normal lives. They are acutely aware of the implications of Tosh's public behavior in a way that Tosh is blissfully and safely ignorant of. Why? Because he's a famous white alpha male. There is an extremely low likelihood that he will ever experience anything like what these people have gone through. What's more, what he did not only reinforces this difference, it helps to prop up a social climate that virtually *guarantees* that more women (and men) will be raped/assaulted in the future. I don't care at all if he doesn't "condone" rape. That is utterly meaningless if he is encouraging everyone to laugh at them for their trauma. Do you really not see the ramifications of this? The further marginalization and silencing that discourages survivors from speaking out, while encouraging men to feel entitled about it?

  39. acer Says:

    @ladiesbane:
    Galifianakis has been richly rewarded for being a barely functional eccentric. The problem with that is the pressure to keep ramping up the eccentricity for an audience accustomed to overstimulation.

    Lately, at least in his standup, he's had trouble staying on Quirky St. and has made a lot of hard lefts onto WTF Blvd.

    Something to think about for anyone who dreams of being a famous entertainer.

  40. JTM Says:

    A comedian goes into a long tirade about the Iraq war. He's making rat-a-tat-tat jokes about gunfire and wheeeooooooo-bakshhh!!! bomb noises! Boom! Crash! Maybe he even gets "edgy" and goes into material about hey, it's an all-voluteer army, and you get what you signed up for. Sitting in the audience is a woman who lost her son in Baghdad, or maybe a soldier who lost a leg. All they wanted was a night out of laughs. And instead, they've got to sit there and think about their loss. And that comic? He's never had a friend or relative get hurt or even fight in the current war. He's sitting from a place of privilege of never having dealt with that pain or anguish.

    Go ahead… tell me their pain is somehow lesser than the pain of someone who's had ANY kind of tragedy (including rape). Better yet, tell them. Find it in your heart to say "I know you lost a son, but I was was the victim of a sex crime, so my feelings are to be protected and yours aren't." Tell them that their tragedy is somehow lesser than yours, so your particular topic is off-limits. Tell them that the comedians laugh-a-palooza about war doesn't "prop up a social climate that virtually *guarantees*" that more war will happen. Because the comic thinks that war is fucking hie-larious, and the consequences of that war only happen to people who aren't the comic, so who gives a crap, right?

    I say this not to say that "all jokes are okay" – I don't even believe that myself. But I say it show that the sensitivities of 1% or 25% of the audience still does not make heckling okay. It might mean the comedian has made poor comedic choices, and it might mean he'll never get hired again. It might even mean a backlash on the internet and the end of his career. But it doesn't mean hecklers are excused.

    I'd bet a months salary that the before the heckler spoke up, the rape "jokes" weren't targeted at her or anyone in the audience in particular. (and by the way WE DON'T KNOW what that material was). It was only after this person decided to take it up on themselves to be the crusader for all that is right and holy, that Tosh turned on her. And I *do* believe that any response to a heckler is A-Okay. Sorry, but I do, and I make no apology for it. It's better if it's clever and witty and all that, but if it's just mean and nasty and the heckler goes home and cries all night? I'm fine with that too. Because hecklers are scum and deserve it. They need to leave that comedy club thinking "I'm never gonna open my idiot mouth again at a comedy show, because I will get humiliated." I'm 100% okay with however that happens.

  41. Kerry Says:

    @bb: you aren't familiar with internalised bias ( in this case racism)? There's gobs of data that even blacks are biased against other blacks. I'll wildly speculate that it's even worse among people in positions of authority and power. So yes, minorities DO absorb our foul cultural attitudes. So Ed's jokes works regardless of the racial makeup of the police force.

    Re: hecklers, I have no opinion. I thought boos and hisses have been delivered to the stage since performance began? Re: using "humorous" threats of violent rape to silence an uppity woman. Oh, Hells yes I have an opinion.

  42. anotherbozo Says:

    @acer: thanks for the James Fritz mention. Tasted him on YouTube and enjoyed. He pulls the gags out of his own life/pov, the way it's usually best. A Lenny Bruce for our times.

  43. jc Says:

    JTM, now I'm not only not sure you read the article referenced in the OP, I'm not sure you really read my last post.

    Where the hell did I say anything about a military family's pain being lesser or greater than a rape survivor's? *I* was the one to bring them up as an analogy in the first place, for a reason.

    Also, the routine you are describing is exactly what I was *not* talking about. Yes, this hypothetical performer can get away with "war is funny", and even "you signed up", although they would be a major league tool for doing so. What you left out are the references I made to– again– *specifically* mocking and trivializing the traumatic experiences of people in the audience. Meaning that they are the butt of the joke, and people are encouraged not to care about what this experience is doing to them.

    The big elephant in the room here is that these are often incidents which we all bear some responsibility for, being members of this society and culture. We pay the taxes that feed the prisons where rape is commonplace and tolerated, and we not only do nothing to ameliorate them, we laugh about them and encourage them. And Tosh himself is (1) performing for an audience which undoubtedly includes many of the same alpha-male personalities that are statistically more likely to commit date-rape at frat parties, and also (2) appears to be part of the same class of people himself.

    The comedy stage in this situation is not some sort of laboratory vacuum, talking about these things in the abstract. The way I see it, this is a member of one (dominant) class of people directly perpetuating abuse on another (not dominant) class. So quite frankly, I don't give a fuck in this case about whatever etiquette the comedy world prescribes to me. It's their rule, not mine. Tosh deserved a lot worse than what he got. Fuck heckling, if he'd had his bloody face smeared across a brick wall I'd have not the slightest sympathy for him.

  44. AL Says:

    RE: Borat

    Two questions to consider regarding Borat. To what extent is Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat character making fun of Kazaks? To what extent is the character making light of Americans' stereotypes/prejudices about Kazaks (or foreigners more generally)?

  45. Elle Says:

    To what extent is Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat character making fun of Kazaks? To what extent is the character making light of Americans' stereotypes/prejudices about Kazaks (or foreigners more generally)?

    To the extent that people wish to run the Sarah Silverman defence, so they don't feel queasy about watching it?

  46. Arslan Says:

    I don't want to get off topic but I've heard this before. First, on Kazakhs. Let's say I'm poking fun at English people(England is of course a leading industrial nation). I can make fun of their obsession with the weather, queuing, football, their propensity for hating their neighbors and virtually everyone else, the fact that they invented the term "soccer" yet get all butthurt when Americans use it, and English people themselves will find it funny. Now suppose I get some Inuit gentleman to play a "parody" of an English person(this is analogous to Cohen, a European, portraying a nationality which is Asiatic in appearance), and he goes around telling people how the English hate Jews, how they enjoy raping women, how they don't see a problem with incest, or how England is full of prostitutes. This would just be ridiculous.

    As I mentioned on the Jezebel site, when you can't get the basic facts about the thing you are satirizing right, then it fails. Borat could have been of any nationality, but as usual Cohen chooses someone from a developing, impoverished country. The only exception is when he decided to make fun of gays with the collection of stereotypes called Bruno.

    The second defense, that it's really about exposing Americans' ignorance or exposing their racism also doesn't fly. For one thing, there is no condemnation of this behavior in his films. On the other hand, while some people may be shocked by these things(perhaps because they've been in denial about the level of racism in American society), there are some who feel assuaged by it. They think: "Well I'm not like THAT guy so I'm pretty cool." Or worse, they see it and they feel that their racist or xenophobic ideas aren't so fringe after all.

  47. Jason Says:

    Glad to come across this assessment of Tosh as a comedian: that he is tasteless and lazy. No one's owned up to that in what I've read so far, and I 'm glad to see that someone thinks that Tosh is fail.

    If it's true that Tosh's claim was "rape jokes are always funny" and that the heckler's claim was "rape jokes are never funny," then of course they are both wrong. But I don't think the crosshairs should be turned onto the heckler. I understand that comedy is a performance, but what distinguishes it from other kinds of performance is the ambiguous nature of the "fourth wall." Some comics even rely on this — the banter with the audience, when it's done well, is a good opportunity for the comic to display improvisational prowess , and for we the audience to experience the satisfaction of a swift, sharp put-down — the kind we're rarely ever able to come up with on our own, or in time.

    Dancing around and along that fourth wall is something that Lenny Bruce excelled at. When Tosh responded the way he did to his heckler, he did it as a person and not a performer, and the fact that he had a stage and a mic only made him a bully.

  48. JTM Says:

    JC – perhaps I worded my overly-long response incorrectly, but here's the point I'm trying to make. It doesn't matter if you're the 20% of the audience that gets hurt by war jokes, or 50% of the audience that gets hurt by rape jokes. You don't get to heckle. It's really that simple. And yes, the second you walked into the comedy club, you agreed to their rules. Sorta like you agree to not hack into Gin and Tacos and insert your commentary directly into the middle of the blog posts. If you don't like what's written here, you comment in the appropriate place (after the show, as it were). But if you were to guess Ed's password and hack into the page and start defacing his work, then honestly, you deserve every horrible thing he'd say about you once he regained control.

    Also, hoping for physical violence to happen to Tosh is kind of telling. I'm curious – what do you think of this? http://www.theonion.com/articles/daniel-tosh-chuckles-through-own-violent-rape,28769/

  49. bb in GA Says:

    @xaaronx

    I listened to the NWA – (F* the Police).

    The really stupid part for me was how the various 'heroes' in the saga kept taunting the police to put down their weapons…so we can fight it out man to man?

    Hell no – put down your gun so I can shoot you.

    I realize this material is years old, but I think we have already begun to get a harvest its teaching.

    I think the intifada is underway…

    //bb

  50. jc Says:

    JTM, I appreciate that your opinion is that heckling is always wrong, with no exceptions. I don't hold that opinion against you, but I do not agree.

    Actually I would agree about 98% of the time, but that flies right out the window if the performer assumes that my business transaction with them gives them license use their pulpit to abuse people in the club with impunity. People who did nothing remotely comparable to bring it on. Seriously, what kind of reception do you really expect to "Rape is always funny"? Unless your audiences is made up entirely of frat boys, that is. This is not simply "offensive", it is abusive. If you engage in abusive behavior, don't expect sympathy if it blows up in your face. It is really, really, that simple.

    As for the link, I think it's highly appropriate, so mea culpa. If Tosh had made fun of Trayvon Martin– not just made jokes about the incident, but made fun of *Trayvon himself* and saying what happened to him was funny– to a mostly black audience in DC, would it really be anyone else's fault if he ended up in a body cast afterward? This is just basic social awareness here. To me, it seems the difference is that people (rightly or not) are more afraid of inner-city black people, while we generally tend to see women or rape survivors as less powerful.

  51. JTM Says:

    Also, JC, just so ya know where I stand. If I'm hanging out with a group of people and some chucklehead dipshit starts making rape "jokes" – I'm gonna shut him down in the most humiliating and awful way possible. Because, well, fuck that guy.

    I'll even get into it with you about whether or not I have any responsibility as a white male regarding the date-rapist frat boy troglodytes who are also white males and the "culture" they apparently have forced on our entire society (I don't think I do, but that's another topic). BUT, one of those aforementioned neanderthals starts spouting that "rape joke" crap in a non-performance environment? I'm gonna be the first one on the line to talk about how small his dick must be or something. Come at me, bro.

    I just get my hackles up about the performance space (yeah, I've done my share of standup) so that's personal to ME. The performer got the mic because he was booked. You want the mic? You get booked. Or write a blog. Or comment on Gin & Tacos.

  52. Bruce Partington Says:

    "And yes, the second you walked into the comedy club, you agreed to their rules. Sorta like you agree to not hack into Gin and Tacos and insert your commentary directly into the middle of the blog posts."

    Poor analogy. To heckle requires a mouth, which all of us (except Roger Ebert) have. To hack a blog requires skills that most of us don't have.

    Most comedy is mediocre, almost by definition (if you think mediocrity is average, which I do), but it's funny (-strange, not -ha-ha) how that's what sells and is rewarded. Bill Hicks was great but I have to doubt that his career in the US was going much further after he was censored on Letterman. (Can't exactly see him doing bits on The Daily Show, even if that would be an improvement.)

  53. Elle Says:

    BUT, one of those aforementioned neanderthals starts spouting that "rape joke" crap in a non-performance environment? I'm gonna be the first one on the line to talk about how small his dick must be or something. Come at me, bro.

    I'm not sure how enforcing crushingly narrow definitions of masculinity through the medium of public humiliation can be both part of the problem and part of the solution.

  54. JTM Says:

    Yeesh! Now I can't make "guys who like rape jokes probably have small dicks" jokes? There's no pleasing people.

  55. Elle Says:

    Yeesh! Now I can't make "guys who like rape jokes probably have small dicks" jokes? There's no pleasing people.

    I don't know what to tell you, guy. Life is just super tough sometimes.

    I do feel quite a lot of meh, though, for those anti-rape campaigns that include the phrase "real men" anywhere in their strapline, a la "Real men don't rape." The whole notion that there is such thing as a "real man," that men can succeed or fail at being, is a piece of low-rent gender policing.

    I quite like Men Can Stop Rape's stuff, and their bystander intervention materials list a whole bunch of ways you can intervene in potentially sketchy situations without having to mention anyone's dick at all.

  56. Major Kong Says:

    I rather tire of the whole "real man" thing. It seems to involve men doing all sorts of silly macho posturing lest they be thought of as less than manly.

  57. J. Dryden Says:

    @ Major Kong: Well, I tried to popularize the slogan "Only *Real* Men Occupy Physical & Temporal Space And Exist Outside Of The Perception Of Others," but the fascists at the bumper sticker manufacturers told me it was 'too wordy.'

  58. Bruce Partington Says:

    Maya, all is Maya.

    [sobs:] Come back, Maya! I won't say anything about how big your penis is!

  59. Xynzee Says:

    @bb:
    I stopped for petrol (gas) in Goinggoalong on my way to Didjabringabeeralong. =)

  60. zebbidie Says:

    I think you're thinking of Kikatinalong.

  61. Xynzee Says:

    @Zeb: Not to be confused with Kickatinnie which is on the road to Buggerup.

  62. piny Says:

    I still say this is about heckling and not rape.

    Nobody has the right to interrupt a performance. And when that happens, the gloves should come off. I don't even think the comic has an obligation to shut down the heckler in a humorous way (it's awesome if they do, but that's not his job). If the heckler goes home disturbed and weeps themselves to sleep, all the better.

    You don't get to interrupt a performance of any kind when you're in the audience, regardless of your personal issues, be they rape, abortion, the holocaust, or ebola.

    This is horseshit. There's nothing sacred about a comedic performance. All performers have to practice their lines, and everyone wants to throw up before they get onstage.

    If you don't want to be thrown off your set list by interruptions from angry women, don't make jokes about how hilarious it is to rape them. Don't provoke your audience. Remember who your audience is. Don't say a bunch of offensive, irresponsible, disgusting things to the people you've convinced to come and listen to you.

    And you know? As stressful and infuriating as it is to be heckled, it doesn't give you any right to break into a rant about how much better it was when black people were murdered by lynch mobs. As though the only way to shut a heckler up is to escalate into verbal abuse. A performer can maintain a certain level of self-control, and Tosh should have done so. He and his circle-jerk are the ones who needs to stop whining.

  63. JTM Says:

    Gee, Piny… that sounds a lot like "He was asking for it…"

  64. jc Says:

    HE WAS.

  65. jc Says:

    I swear, this "heckling is wrong, so she brought it on herself" argument sounds so fucking entitled and spoiled. So she interrupted his mojo flow. Boo-FuckingWho. You do not have the right to abuse trauma survivors just because they gave you the comedy blue-balls, for fuck's sake.

  66. piny Says:

    Gee, Piny… that sounds a lot like "He was asking for it…"

    Yes, yes it does. Because you know what? Although you can never ask to be raped, you can definitely demand to be yelled at. You know how you do that? By provoking rape victims on purpose.

    Are people seriously fucking arguing that the real victim in all of this is those poor comedians, who just don't get no respect for the difficult and dangerous work they do? How terrible it must be, to get up onstage and fail to make people laugh. How traumatic, to be shouted at by somebody who doesn't like the joke you're telling. Can't they just be left to be edgy in peace? They're not trying to offend anyone by telling crudely offensive jokes.

    Yes, they are certainly similar, getting heckled, getting raped, and getting mocked for being raped. Totally.

  67. jc Says:

    I'm willing to acknowledge that it takes some bravery to be a comic onstage, but don't try to claim that that makes you any kind of martyr. People don't go into comedy blindly. More often than not they go into it thinking of social capital, and all the notoriety, drugs, blowjobs, that supposedly come with it. I have a really, REALLY hard time mustering sympathy for comics who complain about how hard it is to be offensive in a good way. It comes with the territory and YOU KNEW THAT GOING IN.

    If anyone seriously complains that the part of their job that involves potentially *hurting people* (a risk they voluntarily CHOSE to undertake) doesn't go how they wanted, and BLAMES SOMEONE ELSE for it, they will be justifiably told to quit their fucking whining. The world does not revolve around you and your ego.

  68. Andrew Says:

    bb- The mistake you're making is twofold: 1) assuming that only white people can be racist, and 2) that people can't be racist against members of their own race (sadly untrue). At least that's the impression I've gotten.

  69. Haydnseek Says:

    @JTM. Context is everything. The club is different from the street, the office, your mothers living room, etc. It's a different world, with different conventions. If you heckle, expect the wrath to descend upon you. If this surprises you, what the fuck are you doing in a comedy club? Do a little homework. Do you pay to see a band without knowing their music, and whether or not you like them? Of course not, unless you're an idiot. Do you go to a comedy club without knowing the headliner? You're an idiot. Do you think you might be offended by something said onstage? Stay home.
    @Piny has an interesting take. Don't provoke your audience? If you're not provoking your audience, you're not doing your job. Get this through your fucking head. Comics that do rape jokes, or cop killer jokes, or any material you find offensive don't actually advocate these things! Can you grasp this? If not, stay the fuck away! It's like going to a so-called gentlemans club and expecting to see Fred Astaire. Stay home. Watch re-runs of stale sitcoms. Eat lots of ice cream. Sob into your pillow. Do whatever you want, but don't fuck with me when I'm working.

  70. Elle Says:

    It's a different world, with different conventions.

    Actually, it's exactly the same world, in that it privileges the edgy promulgation of rape myths above the experience of people who are raped, are likely to be raped, and are afraid of rape, and aren't going to see any of those states adequately addressed by the criminal justice system, health services, or education services, at any point in the near future.

    There is a straightish line between social attitudes towards rape and the disposals in rape prosecutions. There is a very strong link between social attitudes towards rape and the international lack of rape crisis services, liberal reproductive health law and services, and work to promote healthy and equal relationships.

    It's like going to a so-called gentlemans club and expecting to see Fred Astaire.

    Or, presumably, any gentleman.

  71. piny Says:

    Why not? Why can't I fuck with you when you're working? Why can't I stand up and tell you you're not funny? Do comedians not take the risk that their audience won't like their jokes? Isn't it their responsibility, as performers, to entertain their audience?

    But this is also bullshit anyway. Comedians don't generally tell rape jokes because they make people uncomfortable. Tosh certainly doesn't. He and comedians like him tell rape jokes because his target audience is not even slightly offended by rape. There's no squirm factor. This is the entire reaction, in all its complexity, that Tosh's audience has to Tosh's constant references to rape rape rape rape rapey rape rape:

    HA ha!

    He isn't risking anything when he tells rape jokes. He isn't even being as edgy as George Carlin's Porky Pig rape joke. He's talking to a bunch of dudes who are totally cool with the prevalence of rape, totally cool with mocking rape survivors, totally cool with the idea that women get raped all the time. Sick as it is, the bastard is playing to his crowd. He's not challenging them. He's just making them laugh.

    And complaints about being deprived of the right to make transgressive jokes, or arguments about some hypothetical standard for rape jokes that would be funny and yet acceptable to rape survivors, well, those are also bullshit. Rape humor is not transgressive humor. Rape is not a transgressive phenomenon. To these people, rape is a joke.

  72. Haydnseek Says:

    Ah, Piny. You can't fuck with me when I'm working for the same reason that I can't come to your place of employment and unplug the Slurpee machine.

  73. Elle Says:

    Ah, Piny. You can't fuck with me when I'm working for the same reason that I can't come to your place of employment and unplug the Slurpee machine.

    Is it okay to heckle you right now, as you're off the clock? Or do you not really try to bring the funny when you're not on the job?

  74. piny Says:

    Ah, Piny. You can't fuck with me when I'm working for the same reason that I can't come to your place of employment and unplug the Slurpee machine.

    If that's your usual standard, how is this even an issue for you? Are you getting heckled by crickets? Have you gotten hate mail at the Penny Pincher ombudsman's desk?

    Maybe you should work some more rape jokes into your set. They'd probably help.

  75. Haydnseek Says:

    @Elle. You're right. There is a line, strait as a motherfucker, that points to a shameful lack of rape crisis services, reproductive health services, and educational services (with the exception of educators that tell your kid that Jesus rode a velociraptor.) Guess what! The problem isn't stand up comics, it's red state wingnuts that are eliminating your right to constitutionally guaranteed control over your own body. Do you honestly think these right wing lunatics go to comedy clubs because they want people like me to validate their views? They fucking HATE us. When they have distracted you to the point that you're worried about some comic, and not the massive effort by state governments to take away your legal rights, they have won, and you have been a willing accomplice.

  76. Haydnseek Says:

    Hi Piny! Please enlighten me. What the fuck is a Penny Pincher ombudsman? At least he has a desk, so the Penny Pinchers haven't taken away his office furniture during what I'm sure are perfectly justified budget cutbacks….

  77. piny Says:

    I might not be lucky enough to work in a convenience store, but I have better things to do than teach Adam Carolla how to use google.

    Most days, anyway.

    Just copy-paste "Penny Pincher" and/or "ombudsman" where you usually put in "Adam Carolla," okay?

  78. piny Says:

    Do you honestly think these right wing lunatics go to comedy clubs because they want people like me to validate their views? They fucking HATE us. When they have distracted you to the point that you're worried about some comic, and not the massive effort by state governments to take away your legal rights, they have won, and you have been a willing accomplice.

    Yes. Yes, I do. I don't think right-wingers have any problem with right-wing comedians. You know Tosh actually got a bunch of guys to go out and film themselves groping women, right? And he's not even that famous.

    Which one is Rush Limbaugh, to your thinking, a political power or some dipshit making noise on the radio?

  79. Haydnseek Says:

    @Piny: Wow. Where to begin…When I refer to "right wing lunatics," I assume that anyone reading that phrase would have a clue about how I regard Rush Limbaugh. Did you read my most recent post to Elle? Please do. Your surmise that I am in any way a "right-wing comedian" is absurd on its face. I know a number of comedians. Some of them may even be right-wing, as is their right. If so, they sure do a lot of hilarious Mitt Romney material. The idea that there are right-wingers enjoying right-wing stand-up comics is a great premise. Thank you. Let's see…we now take you to Dick Cheneys comedy club. Sorry, you can't get a ticket. It's at an undisclosed location. It needs work, but hell, the idea is only twenty minutes old…thanks again!

  80. Haydnseek Says:

    Hey Ed! Care to get in on this? I know you're busy, but this is a great thread, one that I know is close to your heart…and didn't you say you read all of the comments? Hey, no pressure. It's your site. Just Sayin.'

  81. piny Says:

    Oh, Adam. Clearly you only skim Wonkette.

    I didn't say you were a rightwing comedian. I said that rightwingers are fine with rightwing comedians, who make up a not-insignificant proportion of comedians. Lots of jokes are reactionary jokes. Achmed the Dead Terrorist?

    The overwhelming majority of rape jokes are reactionary; they're anti-feminist and anti-woman. Tosh, for example: he doesn't tell jokes that make people think about how terrible rape is, or how disgusting it is that rape happens all the time. He tells jokes that teach people to think of rape as funny–and rape survivors as hysterical.

    They're not equivalent to cop-killer jokes. They're more like killer-cop jokes.

    And I don't think you like Rush Limbaugh. I think you're forgetting that Rush is an entertainer. He's a talk-radio host: a comedian. His job is get on the air and riff on politics for conservative listeners. He has become very, very powerful that way. Now his comedy–and it is comedy, even if it's a bunch of other things too–is incredibly influential. He is arguably more powerful than any single Republican politician. And in addition to the direct power he wields within the Republican party, he has the ability to shape the minds of his listeners. He teaches them what to be complacent about–what to mock.

    There's that Hannah Arendt line about how you only need good men to say silent? That's what comedians can do: Tosh is teaching a bunch of guys that rape is funny. He's making it easier for them to have no problem with rape. And that does have real-world consequences. For example, those guys probably don't have much problem with Sandra Fluke being called a dirty dirty slut–or with Planned Parenthood losing all the money it uses to assist rape survivors. Huh huh, you said rape.

    If comedy has any value, it has meaning. If you want to be a comedian, you have to accept a certain level of responsibility for your words–and their consequences, intentional or not.

  82. Haydnseek Says:

    @Piny–Adam? Really. Adam? That's your opening line? Okay, let's start from there.
    One isolated comic is meaningless for purposes of this discussion, but you already knew that. I agree with you regarding Limbaugh. And we progressive comics are supposed to do what? Kill him in his sleep? Yes, I'm familiar with the Hannah Arendt line. I quoted it in my masters thesis. You keep referencing Tosh. I can't help you there, and why fucking should I? I'm not Tosh, direct your venom toward him!
    I agree with you that comedy has value and meaning. I accept TOTAL responsibility for every word I utter on that hot, crazy stage. Your implication that I might have any connection with those who trash Sandra Fluke is more than patently offensive. It might have legal implication, if I had any fucking money. In closing, I can only say: "Thank you, and good night."

  83. Elle Says:

    When they have distracted you to the point that you're worried about some comic[.]

    Like most people, I'm capable of thinking about a great many things in the course of a day.

    I don't live in the US, but rape jokes are common across the world, because the cultural matrix that facilitates systemic indifference to rape exists across national borders. The myths about rape (that women and children routinely lie about it for financial and interpersonal gain; that the way people dress, drink and act makes them culpable in being raped; that men are sexual actors and women are sexual reactors, who are responsible for containing men's behaviour; that 'boys will be boys') are rarely challenged by men in public, and endlessly repeated and endorsed by comedians. Social attitude surveys tell us that the majority of people, people who sit on juries, blame women for their own rapes, and hold a range of misconceptions about what rape is like and how people respond to it.

    I strongly suspect that the majority of men, including soi-disant progressive men, most commonly talk about rape through the medium of jokes. (If you are a grown man who has avoided sexual violence in childhood, is not in prison, and is not gay or trans, it probably doesn't cross your mind unless it crops up in some media you're consuming, or in the context of an internet kerfuffle.) It overloads the ToshToversy with significance to say that his incredibly ill-advised joke and response to the heckler facilitates rape, but that is the cumulative effect of the wider culture, of which comedy is a part.

    On the plus side, given that comedy reviewers unfortunately don't include an 'unpalatable misogyny' score in their reviews, the whole thing has given me a few more names for the 'don't bother going to see' list. If anyone is at all interested, the one US male comedian I've ever seen live who did a whole bit on the shittiness of rape culture was Jamie Kilstein.

  84. piny Says:

    I'm talking about Tosh because he sparked off this entire discussion. And I am directing my venom towards him! (I'm also directing a certain level of disdain towards you and your crappy non-arguments. I can do both.) I support a woman who directly challenged Tosh for saying something misogynistic. You had a problem with that, remember?

    Progressive comics are supposed to use their own performance to challenge idiot right-wingers. They're supposed to use their art–and yes, it counts as art even when you're doing it–to make people think.

    You wrote this, so I'm assuming you can read it:

    The problem isn't stand up comics, it's red state wingnuts that are eliminating your right to constitutionally guaranteed control over your own body. Do you honestly think these right wing lunatics go to comedy clubs because they want people like me to validate their views? They fucking HATE us. When they have distracted you to the point that you're worried about some comic, and not the massive effort by state governments to take away your legal rights, they have won, and you have been a willing accomplice.

    You said that comedians–comics period, comics in general, not any particular kind–have no power and influence. You said that feminists like elle–and, presumably, me–should stop caring about comics and start caring about real issues, real enemies. That's a refusal to take responsibility. If that was a stupid comment, then hey: we're buds.

    And although you can't even get round a decent one-liner, I'll bite: I didn't associate you with the people who trashed Sandra Fluke. I have no idea who you are. I've never heard your routine. I never will. I associated a misogynist comic–you know, a guy in the general category "comic"–with the misogynist culture he uses to make money.

    It might have legal implication, if I had any fucking money.

    Jesus Christ. I'll take your word for it that you vote progressive. But I gotta say, you break just like a wingnut.

  85. JTM Says:

    I'd like to clear something up. Because, as always with these kids of things, shit gets lost.

    1) I think you have no right to heckle, and if you do, you deserve whatever punishment the comic can throw at them.

    2) I don't think the act of rape is funny or that rape is a topic that is inherently funny.

    If you think my stance on #1 means I'm lying about #2, then you are a person incapable of complex thought.

    Thank you.

  86. piny Says:

    Apparently, it was Edmund Burke.

    Okay, but I think that's kind of ridiculous–and I don't think most people have that as an absolute standard.

    If a comedian started shrieking the N-word, would a black audience member be unforgivably rude if he just stood up and started yelling at the guy to shut the fuck up, just SHUT UP? If he started telling lynching jokes, would it be wrong if someone stood up and said, "That's not funny?"

    I just don't think comedians are special. There's a social contract around performance, but there's also a social contract around being a complete shit onstage. And part of being "edgy" is recognizing that you can cross that line.

  87. JTM Says:

    It's easy to do the "what if the audience was black/muslim/etc" one, because yeah, a comic telling an audience full of black people that lynching is cool is an idiot. Are hecklers then justified? I STILL SAY NO. They are entitled to get up, go to the ticket booth, and demand their money back. Which, by the way, is a far more powerful statement.

    Since we're talking hypotheticals, let me throw one at you. I

    A comic is in the middle of 5 minutes on abortion. And what the hell, lets make the comic female. And most of the audience finds it funny. But somewhere in the audience, there's a Michelle Bachman type who, finally having had enough, shouts out "Abortion is murder and NEVER funny!"

    To which the comic replies, "Wouldn't it be funny if your own kids really wish you had aborted them? Like, every night, they ask Jesus why nobody ever shoved a vacuum up your hoo-ha and sucked them away from a life of pain and misery of having you as a mom?"

    Funny? I dunno. Maybe to you or me. But maybe she's just one of those people for whom the abortion issue is the be-all and end-all of the national discourse. Or maybe this particular christian uber-mom has had a miscarriage. Maybe several, and it devastates her to know she may never bear children.

    Either way, she's humiliated and devastated, and goes home and writes a blog about it. The next day, the right-wing blog-o-sphere is losing their shit and calling for that particular comedian to be fired from any and all future engagements. And people are saying that the comic believes in forced abortions or something. And because of this mom's particular history, the cult of motherhood kicks into action, rallying behind her. Because those liberal hussy comics have no idea how painful a miscarriage is to the corn-fed real american mothers of the midwest.

    THIS is how we I this. Somebody with a particular chip on their shoulder stood up and disrupted this performance, didn't like the come-back, and now the disruptor is the one who's calling for the comic's punishment? WTF???

    It's sets bad precedent. It says all art, all performance, all communciation is subject to disruption by an offended/wounded party, large or small. And, sniffing out your politics a bit from the posts above, you might be the first on the line to say "If you don't like that comic, don't go see that comic!"

    The cure to speech you don't like is more speech that you do like. Educate. Find a way to let the bro-hams of the world know that jokes about rape aren't funny without appearing to want to forcibly shut them up. And honestly, sometimes the best way to expose someone's idiocy is to let them talk.

    And again, rape's not funny. Abortion on the other hand, might just be hilarious.

  88. Xynzee Says:

    So here's a question for Elle and Piny: since when does the entire universe revolve around you and your sensitivities? 

    The point of Ed's post is that hecklers aren't just rude, but also being self absorbed and selfish, as it doesn't allow others to enjoy a show they've paid their money to see as well. 

    If you don't like it. Leave. No one is forcing you to sit through the show. It's not like you're Alex in a Clockwork Orange, or a PA abortion clinic. 

    If you don't like the movie, play, band, etc. either sit there and take it or leave. You could try demanding your money back. But the rest of us didn't come to hear you whinge. Take some responsibility for yourself, but don't dictate to the world to conform to your view of how things should be. 

    If I go to the opera I'm sure as heck not going to whip out the phone and start talking about how crap it is, nor am I going to try to tell the performers how crap I think their cultural stereotypes are. Whilst some plays break the 4th Wall, that still doesn't invite audience commentary. 

    I hate Thrush and Beck(erhead), so I don't listen/watch—I don't ignore them, but keep a watchful eye on them. Even w talk back which invites commentary expect to be destroyed if you contravene the commentator. 

    Don't approve of the message that a tv show puts out there, don't watch and educate your children why that show is not good. Effectively, you're acting no differently than Beck(erhead) and his rant about Glee. My mum took responsibility for her parenting by not letting us watch Three Stooges. When your kids are trying to get the coconut noise by whacking each other on the head it's time to step in. She'd say why she didn't want us watching them to her friends, but she wouldn't prevent them from letting their kids watch in their home. 

  89. piny Says:

    I don't think you've got a good read on my politics.

    I don't think it's such a bad precedent. I think it's kind of how the whole thing works. A Michelle-Bachman type wouldn't need to be heckled to start a shitstorm in a snowglobe, and she wouldn't need to take abortion personally in order to get upset about a pro-choice joke.

    But that comic can't complain because her words about abortion got a very angry and vocal response from a bunch of anti-abortion crusaders. She can't complain because someone took something she said in the heat of the moment and responded to it. It's not the heckler's fault that Michael Richards fucked that one goat of vituperative racism. That's on Michael Richards.

    And I don't think she can treat heckling as Never Okay Not Ever. It's a thing that happens. It's a thing comics deal with. It's a thing audiences do. You just said that a comic who runs with racism is an idiot–that means that comics have a certain responsibility to not provoke, doesn't it? (or is this like Stand Your Ground?) People are talking about heckling like it's white phosphorus.

    Or, I don't know, rape. As though the level of trauma caused by heckling justifies completely losing your shit. Really, though? I mean, a rape survivor is supposed to quietly leave the room, but some guy who wants to tell a rape joke is expected to start yelling abuse because he gets interrupted?

    If you offend people, they get offensive. If you say outrageous things, they get outraged. You can choose to play to your audience, or you can make them mad. But you can't expect them not to follow your lead.

  90. piny Says:

    So here's a question for Elle and Piny: since when does the entire universe revolve around you and your sensitivities?

    Since I became a stand-up comic?

  91. JTM Says:

    I think the fact that you keep coming back to the "comic's poor widdle feewings were hurt" shows that you're not even trying to understand my point here. This isn't about the comic's feelings, although the comic is the one who gets to rectify the situation in whatever way he or she can.

    The is about is a room full of people who have paid to see a show, and someone in the audience is disrupting that. You have no right to do that. None. Heckling is not "how it works" – heckling is an aberration and disruption. Comics DO have to deal with it, but only because they don't have a wall of amplifiers to drown people out, or the societal respect that people award scripted plays. When you disrupt a show, you are essentially stealing from everyone else in the room who paid to see that show. And fuck you for doing that.

    But none of this matters. No, what matters is that YOUR hot-button issue has been touched, so YOU get to fuck with the performer. Because YOU will NOT BE IGNORED.

    I've always felt this is the #1 reason for heckling. There's people who simply cannot deal with the fact that there's an environment where they're not allowed to command the attention of the room if they so desire it. Doesn't matter if they're yelling out "you suck" or "Rape's never funny." They must be heard! Leave the room? Walk out? No, no, no! I WILL BE HEARD!

    And i'm done talking about this now. Have a nice weekend.

  92. Elle Says:

    So here's a question for Elle and Piny: since when does the entire universe revolve around you and your sensitivities?

    I think that you've perhaps misread my comments, or confused them with those of someone else? (Not that I think anyone in this thread is demanding that their specific 'sensitivities' be 'revolved around'.)

    I don't think that I've actually said what I think about heckling in this thread, but I think that it's generally uncouth, and also that Tosh's response to the heckler was unnecessarily unpleasant. Not that the incident itself isn't a perfectly legitimate thing to talk about, but my interest lies in a wider discussion about comedy, rape jokes, and jokes about rape. I'm curious about responses to what Tosh said, because I think they're an insight into what people think about rape more generally.

    Take some responsibility for yourself[.]

    I'm not sure where you think that I (or other rape survivors, if that's who you're addressing here) am being personally irresponsible here? I think my one comment on the 'if you don't like, don't go and see it' school of thought, is that it's actually quite hard to avoid comedy that features rape jokes. I find rape jokes mildly irritating on the grounds of sexist vacuity, rather than debilitating, but that doesn't make it any easier to identify who has them in their set.

    [D]on't dictate to the world to conform to your view of how things should be.

    I can't accommodate you on that. I think it would be lovely to live in a world without rape, but an interim place would see more effective criminal justice solutions, better education for boys and girls on healthy relationships, and support for the mental and physical health needs of people who experience rape. Rape is something that echoes down people's lives, and I'm all for people who are likely to come into contact with rape survivors (midwives, alcohol and drugs workers, homelessness workers, and so on) understanding how it works. Challenging the dominant culture, which is consumed by, and influences, every single one of us, is a tiny bit of that.

  93. Elle Says:

    Have a nice weekend.

    You too, JTM.

  94. piny Says:

    The is about is a room full of people who have paid to see a show, and someone in the audience is disrupting that. You have no right to do that. None. Heckling is not "how it works"

  95. piny Says:

    The is about is a room full of people who have paid to see a show, and someone in the audience is disrupting that. You have no right to do that. None. Heckling is not "how it works"

  96. piny Says:

    They're different things. Stand-up comedy is also not like opera.

    If a comic loses his shit, does that also count as a disruption? I mean, if he just completely goes batshit and starts shrieking at a heckler? Did people pay for that? What about the other people in the audience at Michael Richards' show? Did they pay to hear a racist rant about lynching? Did the other women in the audience pay to hear all about gang rape? How many minutes can a comedian use to verbally abuse a heckler before he starts cheating the rest of the audience of their admission fee?

    I've performed, I've sat in audiences, I've witnessed heckling, and this is a stupid argument.

    And, excuse me, but I seem to remember quite a few references to the comic's tender little feelings.

    But none of this matters. No, what matters is that YOUR hot-button issue has been touched, so YOU get to fuck with the performer. Because YOU will NOT BE IGNORED.

    No. None of it matters compared to rape, certainly. This is all a bullshit derail from the important issue, which is that rape is so normalized in our culture that women face severe social penalties for not finding rape funny.

    But I don't think that stand-up comics are sacrosanct. And I think that standup comics who complain that their job is to be edgy and shocking and provocative don't get to complain when people actually get provoked.

  97. Mayya Says:

    Everything I've read about this Tosh incident has been focused on 1) whether rape jokes can be funny and 2) whether heckling is bad.

    I can't really give even half a shit about either of those issues. The thing that stuns me, and that almost no one has bothered addressing, is that after the alleged heckling, Tosh ***encouraged members of the audience to rape the woman in retribution.***

    Does no one have anything to say about this?

  98. JTM Says:

    Okay – i said I was out, but I need to respond to Mayya here…

    Do you really think that happened? Do you really believe even for a second that Tosh WANTED the woman to be raped by his audience in "retribution." Do you really, honestly and truly believe that an intelligent 37 year old man is going to try to or even WANT to incite an actual rape in front of a public audience? Do you really think that happens at a nightclub on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 2012?

    Yeah, we can talk about heckling, shitty choices in joke material, whether someone's sensitive or not, and all of that. But you're honestly insisting that Daniel Tosh was trying to instigate an actual rape, then you are living on the other side of some looking glass world that bears no reality to well, the real world. And you're not helping the conversation at all. We should at least begin our arguments from an agreed point of reality – and Daniel Tosh earnestly trying to get a woman raped is not reality.

    Come on now.

  99. Mayya Says:

    Yeah JTM, you should have stopped when you said you would.

    You're not helping the conversation either – why tdoes YOUR world view trump mine? Answer: it doesn't.

  100. HoosierPoli Says:

    I think the main problem is Tosh is not very funny, which violates the First Commandment of Comedy.

    As Jezebel points out, Louis CK does quite a bit about rape, but because it's coming from his dark, absurdist, totally hilarious POV we laugh at it. Daniel Tosh is a skinnier Dane Cook and can't get away with it. No need for a big kerfuffle.

    I do agree with Kyle Kinane, though: it's a shame GG Allin has been dead for so long we've forgotten the meaning of the word "offensive".

  101. piny Says:

    Do you really think that happened? Do you really believe even for a second that Tosh WANTED the woman to be raped by his audience in "retribution." Do you really, honestly and truly believe that an intelligent 37 year old man is going to try to or even WANT to incite an actual rape in front of a public audience? Do you really think that happens at a nightclub on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 2012?

    No. I don't. I don't even think he wanted, exactly, to terrorize her. I don't think he was operating on that level. But he knew that this would be a horrible thing to say to her, that it would hurt her and drive her away, and he understood why. Not on an empathetic level, but on a level that a 37-year-old man is responsible for.

    Do you believe that you can tell a context-free rape joke? Or share a context free fantasy about how awesome it would be if a woman in your audience got gang-raped right there in front of you?

  102. bb in GA Says:

    @elle

    "Is it okay to heckle you right now, as you're off the clock? Or do you not really try to bring the funny when you're not on the job?"

    I know you're European. Are you familiar w/ Monty Python and are you making a subtle reference to the 'Argument Clinic?'

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkHPCmC_bzg&feature=fvst

    Perhaps he is not 'arguing/being funny in his spare time.'

    //bb

  103. jc Says:

    "But you're honestly insisting that Daniel Tosh was trying to instigate an actual rape, then you are living on the other side of some looking glass world that bears no reality to well, the real world."

    You clearly did not comprehend or retain any of the points I was making above.

    One more time, for the reading-comprension-challenged: Whether he "endorsed" rape or not, whether he was "trying" or not, makes NO FUCKING DIFFERENCE AT ALL.

    If you drive drunk and run someone over, it doesn't matter what the fuck you intended or endorsed. You hurt someone because you were voluntarily being reckless, then you tried to blame the victim without putting ANY effort into understanding their situation.

  104. JTM Says:

    JC – I was responding to Mayya who said that Tosh was trying to instigate an actual rape.

    The "joke" may have been horrendous, hurtful, nasty, and perhaps the most hurtful thing a human can SAY to another human – but, that's a far cry from somehow trying to convince actual members of his audience to actually commit rape. One is the act of someone who's got no sensitivity, the other is the act of a psychotic. I truly hope we can at least agree on that.

  105. The Mad Dreamer Says:

    First, one of my favorite moments in comedy regarding hecklers is a video of Stephen Lynch dealing with a heckler during a performance of his song Superhero. He works the heckler into the routine by coming up with a very short, very simple verse that put the heckler in his place:

    If I could be a superhero,
    I would be a heckling cunt.
    Ruining comedy shows all 'round the world
    By being a heckling cunt!

    To get more to my feelings on this comment thread, though, here are my simple feelings on heckling.

    If you are a comedian and someone in the crowd decides to heckle you, you are within your rights to respond.

    If you are a comedian and your response to a heckler is so godawfully atrocious as to fail to be a joke on any level, you should walk off the stage and refund everybody present their ticket money right out of your own pocket because you bring shame to comedy.

    Tosh was so firmly planted in the second that he should quit now.

  106. Elle Says:

    I know you're European. Are you familiar w/ Monty Python and are you making a subtle reference to the 'Argument Clinic?'

    Yes to the first part, although I wasn't thinking about it at the time. Shame on me, but I was just being mean.

  107. Xynzee Says:

    So which do you think would send a stronger message?

    A heckler who can easily dismissed as a humourless, selfish, hyper sensitive, boorish, whinging, anal pore?

    Or

    If 10+ women had stood up, walked out and demanded their money back? And then caught cabs home, leaving their bfs there on his ownsome? Then told him in no uncertain terms that she won't be in a relationship w someone who thinks that the topic is funny.

    You can't change Tosh, let alone society, but you *can* do something in your sphere.

  108. Xynzee Says:

    Er: …can be easily…

  109. Elle Says:

    You can't change Tosh, let alone society, but you *can* do something in your sphere.

    I know that your explanation of how to do anti-rape activism comes from a place of not really knowing anything at all about it, so thought you might be interested in an incomplete list of the things that women (and some men, but really mostly women) have done and created to challenge rape and rape culture.

    Supranational agencies: UN Women, and its predecessor agencies; nation state and regional branches thereof;
    Supranational levers: Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (and its Optional Protocol), Rome Statute of the ICC, especially the inclusion of sexual violence in the definitions of 'war crimes' and 'crimes against humanity', UN SCR. 1325;
    Criminal justice: all rape statues that have moved away from the characterisation of rape as a property crime, extension of statutes of limitations with regard to child abuse (now under attack from the Catholic Church, inter alia), multi-agency investigatory processes that prioritise mental and physical health of complainants;
    Policy and funding: any national or regional policy that has a gendered analysis of violence against women, including rape and sexual violence, and the national or regional or local funding that may flow from this to provision;
    The Rape Crisis movement, and all of its offshoots, which works to provide women (and men and children) with emotional support, support through legal and medical processes, and advocacy; and
    Prevention: all of those anti-rape campaigns, and work in schools and with young people to encourage a culture of consent and healthy relationships.

    Women's sphere is the whole world, dude.

  110. jc Says:

    JTM, he may not have intended to do so, but if you don't see how his actions could constitute deliberate sexual intimidation, I have to question your sanity.

    And what I was getting at is that is barely matters, because the overall effect of his actions is not all that different– not as clear and dramatic-looking, maybe, but actually more insidious because it's done under a pretext of humor, implying that anyone who responds negatively just can't take a joke. And if you can't understand how that might work, that is clear evidence that neither you nor anyone you're close to has ever had to live with that kind of threat.

  111. jc Says:

    Incidentally, you do know that your response to Mayya was a really lame reductio-ad-absurdum, right? You know perfectly well she didn't say this woman would be raped in a public forum on sunset blvd.

    Look, believe it or not, I can appreciate that you actually listen to what people say and try to respond to it. If nothing else, that's more than I can say for other people I've debated on this blog, who have a habit of putting words in my mouth and either ignoring or distorting everything I say. But this kind of shit? It's just not a good-faith argument.

  112. JTM Says:

    From Mayya: "Tosh ***encouraged members of the audience to rape the woman in retribution.***"

    What part of that am I absurdly ad-reducto-ing? That is a direct accusation that Daniel Tosh was trying to get someone raped. Not intimidate her, not scare her or make her feel bad (both of which we might find some modicum of agreement on). No, Mayya states unequivocally that Daniel Tsoh was actually trying to get a woman raped.

    And if you can say that a comic saying giving a heckler a lame-ass comeback to a heckler is the same as intimidation, then I can say that Mayya accusing him of "encouraging rape" is the same as well, actually accusing him of encouraging rape.

    And my ultimate point being that that kind of rhetoric doesn't help anyone.

  113. The Mad Dreamer Says:

    You know how they say "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably a duck" (or otherwise indistinguishable from a duck)?

    Does not Tosh's comment walk like an encouragement to rape and quack like a rape threat? If the comment is so identical to a rape threat that the only way to make it not seem like a rape threat is to go "I was joking. Also heckler!" then you have not merely allowed your comment to walk and quack like a duck, but to also rape like a duck.

  114. jc Says:

    I am completely not surprised that you can't see the link between sexual intimidation and the enabling of sexual violence. But I do find it really telling.

  115. JTM Says:

    Well, then you've got me. I give up.

  116. Xynzee Says:

    "Women's sphere is the whole world, dude."

    If that's your opinion ok.

    To quote Mayya: "why tdoes [sic] YOUR world view trump mine? Answer: it doesn't."

    So I'll be at the comedy club enjoying Tosh's show, and while I'm doing so kindly keep yourself, your opinions and world view out of my entertainment that I've paid my money for.

    BTW: I may have given Tosh a miss, and dismissed him as something to push out of the culture, but your incessant militarism gives me pause to reconsider.

  117. jc Says:

    Aah, the smell of dialogue! So encouraging to know we can work things out when it comes right down to it.

  118. Elle Says:

    BTW: I may have given Tosh a miss, and dismissed him as something to push out of the culture, but your incessant militarism gives me pause to reconsider.

    Damn it! My epaulettes have driven another man towards sub-par comedy.

  119. The Last Word Says:

    Let's give it up for Louis CK.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-july-16-2012/louis-c-k-?xrs=synd_facebook

  120. Robert Says:

    True story – back in the late 1980s, I was at Harvey's casino in Reno with my first (late) husband. At some show we were watching, there was a standup who was to comedy what Velveeta is to cheese – probably why he was doing an afternoon gig at a Harvey's side room, but I digress.

    I don't remember much about it, but at one point he started ragging on Bobby McFerrin. When he referred to him as 'this Jamaican' I was strongly tempted to yell 'he's not Jamaican, you gormless choad,' but was dissuaded from doing so by my spouse, who did not enjoy scenes.

    Since becoming a parent ten years ago, comedy clubs have not featured in my recreational scene, but I will remember that heckling is not, in fact, correct behavior.

  121. Archery Program Says:

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