Comedians And Twitterverse Respond To Daniel Tosh’s Rape Joke

A lot of you weighed in on the Daniel Tosh rape joke convo yesterday (catch up on the story here) and while I haven’t had a chance to respond to most of the comments I’ve read them all and I love that we have so many different takes on the story. As I said in the original post I watch Daniel Tosh and he stopped shocking me a while ago. All of his jokes are in bad taste; that’s his thing and he seeks to offend which may or may not be funny to a lot of people. But, given the reaction, I wondered if he had crossed some line in this case. People have been using the term “rape culture” and some consider his joke to be an example of our society’s dismissive attitude towards women and violence against them. Now that we’ve voiced our opinions, let’s hear from the wonderful world of twitter, inside.

Jim Norton and a host of other comedians have come to Tosh‘s defense, while others have shut him doooown:


To which a follower replied:










To which a follower replied:






To which a follower replied:

((You see how this is getting out of control, right?))


Now here’s an interesting fact: comedian Louis C.K. (the best!) tweeted a simple message of support to Tosh yesterday (“@danieltosh your show makes me laugh every time I watch it. And you have pretty eyes.“). But today I couldn’t find it. I wonder why the Louie star decided to remove it. Hmmm.

And @OpieRadio also shared this George Carlin video:
“I believe you can joke about anything; it all depends on how you construct the joke.

But the most interesting conversation about this issue (IMO) can be found in the comments section right here at PITNB. A few readers who identified as rape survivors (and I hope they won’t mind me bringing them up here) offered up completely different views on the matter. One said that she was unbothered and, in fact, would be more offended if someone told her that she shouldn’t or couldn’t laugh at such a joke. She chose to exert her agency by embracing the possible humor in it (even while acknowledging that another person had the right to be offended). And, indeed a couple of other individuals said that– as survivors– they were horrified by Tosh‘s joke.

I feel that we all have the right to react as we choose. I wouldn’t dare tell someone to ‘get over’ a joke about anything, if it real offended them. What I do disagree with is the comparison between this and jokes about race. People have said that if Tosh used the word “nigger” no one would have come to his defense. But in that case, I think it depends on the context. If he was spitting a Nicki Minaj verse, I bet half the people would have come to his defense, as they’re doing now. And then the other half would call in Al Sharpton (shouts-out). If he used it out of the context of a rap song, it might have been a different isse. But the word “nigger” is not akin to the word “rape.” I’m NOT saying either is worse or more powerful, I’m speaking of the historical context and connotation. As Oprah once told Jay-Z: “When I hear the N-word, I still think about every black man who was lynched–and the N-word was the last thing he heard. So we’ll just have to disagree about this.” The word “rape” does not have that historical context. And if Tosh made a crass “black people” joke (which I PROMISE you he did that night), Tosh fans would not have been surprised and offended parties would have sounded like they’d never been to a Tosh so, or any comedy show. Most comedians make fun of other cultures (and their own), on some level. I think.

Ok, that’s my three cents. What’s yours? Were these comedians right to come to Tosh‘s defense or is some of this further evidence of an American rape culture?

Oh, one more thing! Somebody on twitter mentioned Nirvana‘s Rape Me song. Not sure where they were going with it, but I’m thrown it into the mix here. Kbye.

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  1. can’t help thinking that the responses that run along the lines of “it didn’t happen the way she said” and “she had it coming” sound …. familiar.

    • @susanna — I agree with you completely. This sort of garbage reeks of the kind of “blaming the victim” abuse that happens far too often.

    • Daniel

      Susanna—I kept thinking the same thing as well. Many of the respondents were commenting that she should’ve known, she had it coming, she asked for it, etc. I found that very disturbing. And as a side note, is he known for rape jokes? I actually find him quite funny and would have actually bought tickets to a show if I didn’t know rape was part of his routine….but now, no way I’d do that. Perhaps she was the same, found him funny, but didn’t know he’d do that? It just seems so many people are making so many sad defenses for him and the joke when it clearly was too far.

    • Daniel, Tosh isn’t know for rape jokes, I just mean that he’s known for these type of jokes. I think of him as a roast-type comedian.

      Susanna, I like that you’re pointing to the language that’s being used here. I think you’re right; it’s not a coincidence.

    • PNB

      I agree…how many jokes have we heard about Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing little boys? I haven’t heard many, because it’s not funny. Joke about the abuser being an ass-hat, fine, but not the victims as if they had a choice in the matter.

    • Completely agree Susanna.

  2. Jacinta

    I think a lot of things can be joked about, but rape is just really out of bounds to me. And can we talk about how saying, “hey wouldn’t it be funny if you got gang raped?” is a terrible joke. If we lived in a society that didn’t regularly blame the victim and that actually prosecuted rapists to the full extent of the law, then maybe I’d feel differently. I’ve seen way too many comments on articles about this where women state their feelings of offense and dudebros rush in to say things like “get raped!” Because, ya know, that’s funny or something…I’m not saying that Tosh can’t make the “joke,” but I think that people have the right, in turn, to think he’s a douche canoe for doing so.

    • Jacinta, yeah– more than Tosh’s comment (which he DID apologize for) the resulting conversation is getting to be disturbing. In a weird way, people who are trying to defend him are acting like they now need to make a million rape jokes to prove that it’s fine. I think, in that manner, they’re not really helping.

      Thanks for the comment

  3. Amanda

    Telling a rape joke is one thing. Telling a specific woman that he thinks it would be funny if she got raped by five guys right now is not him telling a joke. It’s him reacting poorly to being heckled. Which as a comedian, it’s something you need to be able to deal with gracefully. A great comedian can turn a heckler into the highlight of their show… a lesser one turns it into a shitstorm.

    • Amanda, thanks for commenting. I think you’re onto some thing. Tosh wasn’t so much making a joke as he was responding to the heckler. And maybe that makes a difference.

    • Stephanie

      “Telling a rape joke is one thing. Telling a specific woman that he thinks it would be funny if she got raped by five guys right now is not him telling a joke.”

      THIS. If a joke is well constructed and isn’t blaming the victim, I think I could find a rape joke funny. But I will never find a person telling another person they’d enjoy it the first person was raped funny.

  4. Krissy

    I heard that he makes male rape jokes regularly, and there was no outrage regarding that.

    And I think saying that “it didn’t happen that way” is the same thing as the rape defense “she had it coming” is REALLY inaccurate. If she is misrepresenting the story, that does have significance. There is a HUGE difference between making a joke about rape and suggesting that someone should be raped (which is what she claims).

    • Katie

      I could not agree more. There is a massive difference if she isn’t telling an accurate story.

    • Krissy, thanks for bringing this up. One thing that we’re seeing is that some of us are talking about how we see rape in society and others are pointing to rape in a comedy club. The more we discuss it, the more I’m wishing the concept didn’t exist at all. There’s a much bigger problem than Daniel Tosh that’s at work here.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

    • Krissy

      “There’s a much bigger problem than Daniel Tosh that’s at work here.”

      I completely agree.
      After thinking about this…I just really hope that this story gives us all an opportunity to remind people to DO SOMETHING about rape in our society. Not just get outraged about the word, but get outraged about the act that happens all the time, everyday in our society. Hopefully this will remind people to support their local rape crisis centers, donate to centers for abused women, etc. Perhaps we could take this moment, and make it into something positive.

      Here is a link to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. http://www.rainn.org/

  5. Britt

    I think that you should know what you are getting yourself into when you go to any comedy show, especially a Daniel Tosh show. He, along with many other comedians, make many jokes about subjects that a lot of people would find offensive. Part of Tosh’s act is making a joke that by the end of it, only one person is left that is laughing and not offended.

    • Britt, thanks for weighing in here. I love comedy, but I’ve never been to a live show partly for the reasons that you bring up. You give a certain right to be offended, but I think some people would go so far as to say the woman was more than offended– she was harassed. But it’s hard to say what happened for sure.

      Anyway, thanks again for commenting.

  6. cutitout

    I’m so over cry babies. If you don’t want to be offended, the last place you need to go is a comedy club. Reading into his joke and taking it out of context/ making it into a statement rather than a joke is like a black person going to a fictional movie about slavery and turning a white actors recitation of lines into a statement on their actual views or character. Its unfair.

    I don’t believe for one second that this blogger really believes that Tosh is pro-rape or thinks that he doesn’t think actual rape is a horrible thing. It was a dis-tasteful joke in her opinion, most jokes are. This is another case of an advocacy group piggy-backing on a minor incident for free publicty, not that their work is not admirable, it just sort of cheapens it in my book.

    As far as rape victims go, I understand and respect their pain but I just can’t with these celebrity public apology tours. He made a joke on stage, some people did not like it, tough. He chose to apologize, I don’t think it was neccessary, there is a certain “poetic licence” that entertainers enjoy and one has to frame their work in the proper context. Its over, accept the apology or stay pressed.

  7. yes theres always been rape jokes,i mean lets face it, nothing in the world is off limits but what made this so bad is he took it to a different extreme by saying “wouldnt it be funny is that girl got raped by 5 guys right now”. that right there was too far.

  8. 3 things…Louie CK’s comment was seen by some as anti-tosh because he has said before that he’ll never watch tosh.0. so he said that he laughs every time he sees it, which is never. and saying daniel has pretty eyes is kind of prison-rapey.
    2. The problem is not that Tosh made a rape joke, lots of comedians have done it well where they are ‘making fun’ of society, or rapists, not the victim. The problem is that he told a woman it would be funny if she got raped by 5 guys, and people laughed and are defending him. That is not a ‘joke’ he told. That’s seen as a threat by some.
    3. The racism vs. sexism argument is kind of proven. When Michael Richards yelled at a group of black people and called them the n-word after they heckled him, it was an outrage (rightfully so). No one sided with him, and what has he done lately? I dont think it’s a question of racist jokes vs. rape jokes; it’s kind of a fact that BEING racist to someone is seen as ‘worse’ than BEING sexist. It really stinks that racism AND sexism exist in our culture and I hope it changes for the better before my daughter grows up.

    • angibangie, ahhh Thanks for clearing up my Loius C.K. confusion. It all makes sense now– I didn’t know he was anti-Tosh. And thanks for your other comments as well. Krissy also said that we’d do well to address the bigger issues that are at work here (rather than Daniel Tosh, maybe).

  9. KiTX

    This was my favorite response thus far, from a comedian in Austin, TX Curtis Luciani. He said everything I was thinking (fyi, it’s chock full of profanity): http://austin.culturemap.com/newsdetail/07-12-12-14-37-the-best-response-weve-heard-to-daniel-toshs-misquoted-rape-jokes/

    I’m the daughter of a rape survivor, and although I completely support anyone’s right to make a joke about whatever they want, I think having the right TO do something doesn’t mean it’s something you SHOULD do. To me, this is beyond being appropriate. Rape jokes cross a line from questionable to legitimately hurtful for a large number of women. I hear a joke like that, I think of the awful situation my mother endured. Other women may think of themselves. If you can’t be funny without being cruel (not crude, not offensive, but cruel), maybe you need to get out of the game.

  10. Leslie

    As a huge fan of comedy and a victim of molestation and sexual assault I have to say that his joking about the subject didn’t bother me. Of course we probably won’t know exactly what happened or what was truly said that night with all the different versions floating around but I do listen to his comedy enough to know he has broached the rape subject before. His jokes weren’t offensive to me then either. I hate to say it but we live in a society that has become a little too sensitive. If you are going to a Tosh show you should expect his comedy to be WAY over the line and if that sort of comedy offends you then you are going to the wrong show. Think of t.v. programming, there are many people that find current t.v. very racy and what do we say to them? TURN THE CHANNEL! Well wouldn’t the same rule apply to comedians? The jokes are the same as they have always been. Comedians have made fun about everything under the sun, no holds barred. If it offends you then don’t support them by buying a ticket to their show. But don’t try to censor them and come down on them for doing what they have been doing for years. And unless you were actually there and know with 100% certainty what happened then you should reserve your judgement.

  11. Ariel

    i agree with george carlin “it all depends on how you construct the joke.” so he apologized about it, so let it rest in peace. by the way it’s interesting who violent and agressive the posts on support for him get.

  12. Donny

    If you don’t want to be a “victim”, dont heckle a comic. ‘Nuff said.

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