Daniel Tosh Rape Joke Controversy: Fellow Comics Rally Around Embattled TV Host

Daniel Tosh
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Daniel Tosh may (or may not, even) be guilty of a bad joke. But he doesn't deserve to be castigated, according to some of L.A.'s top comics -- or even mentioned in the same breath as Michael Richards' infamous onstage racial tirade in 2006.

"It's a comedy show and it's Daniel Tosh -- you're going to laugh and be offended at times, comes with the territory," says Iliza Schlesinger, a regular headliner at West Hollywood's Laugh Factory.

Last Friday at Laugh Factory, Comedy Central "Tosh.O" star Tosh gave a controversial routine about rape that drew the ire of some audience members.

"You think Daniel doesn't know rape is horrible? Most of comedy is based on something horrible," Schlesinger tells Celebuzz. "When that woman heckled him from the audience, the joke became less about rape and more about silencing an audience member who dared challenge him -- something no comic would back down from. Rape isn't funny. But, neither is heckling a comic."

Adds Schlesinger, who hosts the syndicated CBS dating show Excused, adds,  "Comics can be cavalier in making fun of it or other horrible things like AIDS, simply because it's not something that we deal with on a daily basis. Well, some of us. I'm sure there are a lot of comics who have been raped, actually. The fact remains that you will always offend someone."

A rape joke, particularly one from a comedian popular in the stand-up community, as Tosh is, is not an impeachable offense, says comedian Hasan Minaj.

"To call him out for being absurd or shocking now really isn't fair, considering he's been doing jokes like that for his entire career," he says. "Standup comics have certain personas on stage. Comics like Daniel Tosh err on the side of absurdity and shock humor."

On Wednesday, a blog entry on a personal Website called Cookies for Breakfast, recanted a story of a pair of friends stopping into the Laugh Factory July 6 for a Dane Cook show. After Cook's performance was the Tosh set. Famous comics -- Chris Rock, for example -- are often known for stopping in at the Laugh Factory for impromptu sets.

The blog post -- which was unattributed -- told an ugly scene of a "rape" joke gone wrong, when a heckler got involved with Tosh's set.

"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," the blogger wrote.

"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. I didn't appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, 'Actually, rape jokes are never funny!'”

The writer, who said she was female, continued:

After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, 'Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…' and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.
Tosh apologized Tuesday on his Twitter for the incident, after news accounts hit the Web.

The landmark Sunset Blvd. comedy club Laugh Factory has become a common site of controversy in recent years -- primarily for comics who have high profile wipeouts with edgy material. Besides Tosh, Michael Richards notoriously put his career on ice in 2006 after a "n-word" racist tirade (see video below) -- which resulted in club owner Jamie Masada banning the word from the club -- and singer John Mayer has given a risque set.

Similar to Richards, Tosh was implicated by social media -- video for Richards, blog for Tosh -- though comedians say any similarities between the two incidents are specious.

"There are a bunch of differences between Tosh and Michael Richards," says "Last Comic Standing" finalist and "Conan" regular guest Myq Kaplan. "#1, Michael Richards was never a stand-up at all. He was a very talented sketch and improv actor and comedian, but he certainly hadn't been doing stand-up for years and years. The similarity is giving a generous reading to what Michael Richards was doing, they perceived somebody disrespected their show, so they say, 'Now I will do the worst thing to you I can do.'"

Do you think Tosh went too far? Add your comment, below.
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  • Wow

    "When you go to a live show, like that, you keep your mouth shut. If she had a problem, she could have shown some class about it and just complained to the manager. She decided to make it all about her. Bitch deserved everything she got" ----- WOW. Dude, were you raised with no morals code or humanity? SHE should have shown some class? Look who's talking. I feel sorry if you have or will ever have a girlfriend.

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  • frenchyy

    Tosh is a dropkick, anyone who likes him or laughs at his pathetic, horrible jokes are just as big of a dropkick as he is.

  • Albert Couillard
    Albert Couillard

    Oh wait, I forgot about the obvious humour potential of rape jokes about your mother or sister as well. Those would definitely be ROFL worthy.

  • Albert Couillard
    Albert Couillard

    Hey, using this as a measure of success then next week if a comedian starting telling jokes about torturing children with tasers that should make him/her a YouTube sensation!

  • Albert Couillard
    Albert Couillard

    So Mr. Tosh's joke was super funny and how dare the woman at the club even dream of interrupting. So....... then if I went to work the next day and started saying the same jokes around the office, nobody had better take offense to them. Or if I just thought Tosh's show was just the funniest thing i had ever seen I should be able to repeat the "best parts" in the middle of a restaurant, and nobody had better object. Or if a husband went around and told rape jokes about his wife or even better, his daugther, well that would just make him the coolest guy ever. Or, hey I know even better how about someone started telling rape jokes about your wife and daugther - wouldn't that be hilarious!!!!

  • Jason

    Rape jokes, along with molestation jokes such as the myriad of Penn State jokes can be, and (some) are funny. His particular retort to the rude woman who interrupted his show (Damn Dane Cook fans) was beneath his typical level of (imho) belly busting humor, but if people start to attack free speech, and make certain topics "illegal" then it's only a matter of time before comedy as a whole disappears due to everything being offensive to somebody. Quit taking yourselves so seriously you Nazis.

  • Dustin Washout Guest
    Dustin Washout Guest

    Just check out Bro Rape on youtube.

  • Dustin Washout Guest
    Dustin Washout Guest

    Rape. Funny.

  • Dustin Washout Guest
    Dustin Washout Guest

    Here's the difference: Tosh is very clearly not serious about her getting raped. It's a comedy show featuring the likes of Dane Cook. If you start taking seriously the shit that comes out of their mouth, you've missed the point of their comedy. Do you honestly believe that the audience was taking it seriously. She should have shut her mouth and just went out to talk to the management, maybe see about getting a refund. Something like that. Instead of trying to play the moral authority and dictate what is and what is not funny to the comedian who apparently was getting laughs.

  • Dustin Washout Guest
    Dustin Washout Guest

    A scary situation? What, like everyone is suddenly going to grab her obnoxious ass and start gang raping her? Because that's the most likely of scenarios. A comedian in comedy club makes a joke at your expense involving rape so everyone gets in on a non-stop rape-a-thon. It's not like the entire place went silent and slowly turned to stare her down, people were LAUGHING.

  • Dustin Washout Guest
    Dustin Washout Guest

    Yeah, because this has anything to do with race.

  • Dustin Washout Guest
    Dustin Washout Guest

    Yeah, well, I had a black friend once, but then I sold him. I had black people on my family tree, but then we cut them down. The door IS open. It's comedy. If you don't like it, don't listen and definitely don't go to see offensive comedians. I do have to laugh at you telling someone to get over themselves.

  • Dustin Washout Guest
    Dustin Washout Guest

    Oh, they have a dismal career, huh? You mean like Louis CK? Yeah, who the hell is he. Freakin' nobody. When you go to a live show, like that, you keep your mouth shut. If she had a problem, she could have shown some class about it and just complained to the manager. She decided to make it all about her. Bitch deserved everything she got. And going on and on? He said ONE thing to her. What an arrogant, over-sensitive, self righteous, special little snowflake woman.

  • Dustin Washout Guest
    Dustin Washout Guest

    The same way that the death/murder of an infant can be funny.

  • Dave

    Andrea, you're a knucklehead. The only reason she was humiliated was because she was interrupting a performance. I find most operas offensive, but I'm not going to stand up and humiliate the performers.There has to be a disincentive to heckling. Being pointed at, insulted, and laughed at is the disincentive. The reason rape jokes are funny is because rape isn't funny. Do I think it's funny that JFK is dead? No, but jokes about it are a hoot! That's comedy 101. How have you people made it this far in life getting offended by stuff like this? Does Tosh really think that rape is funny? Of course not! That's why there has to be jokes about it - to make the situation more tolerable. What is offensive about the whole situation is that Tosh was pressured into publicly apologizing for fear of his career being ruined by some knuckleheaded lady in the audience who couldn't recognize a joke.

  • Andi

    Damn. I knew there was something wrong with how I felt about rape...I'm white. Thanks for explaining how a whole race feels entitled for being crude and innapropriate on stage for success. Way to take it to a whole new level there, Brit.

  • Keith Knowles
    Keith Knowles

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I've seen his show, watched his standup, and followed his internet plugs. It's not like it's anything new. In every movie, show, live comedy; Have you ever seen an audience member that said "that's offensive" and them actually say "You're right, let me stop" ? I'm pretty sure that just about everyone that has said something during his show has gotten blasted by his words. When you interrupt someone what is the response? Sarcasm and a Joke on you. It's been that way since the dawn of live jokes. He must have practiced it for minutes/hours/days and here they are, sticking their opinions in. I thought you were there to see Tosh make fun of people, not get offended when YOU make yourself visible and get made fun of. The subject of rape is completely Irrelevant, as everyone knows that is a subject of extremes which is a specialty of Tosh's by the way. I think it was a very poor time for that young woman to make her comment, then not expect him to use it like the mighty axe that it was. I've been molested and raped when I was a kid. Do I think rape is right? : Absolutely not. Do I think rape is funny? : Absolutely not. Do I think she should be raped? : Absolutely Not. But watch this .... Do I think a JOKE about rape is funny? : Yes Do I think SHE should be heckled for Heckling? : YES Do I think that my friends should be raped because of their online scores? : Absolutely. Do I think that dead baby jokes are funny? : No, they are all terrible but guess what? I still laugh. You know why? Because dead babies are terrible to think about, and being forced to think about a ridiculous situation involving a terrible concept is funny. ITS A JOKE. I also think that insult humor is extremely degrading, which is the reason I stay invisible at comedy shows. I don't sit in the front row of ANY show. When I go I wear low profile clothing and I keep to myself. I NEVER shout ANYTHING out to the comic on stage, unless it's part of an act. If I did, I would expect to get heckled. Most of all when my comment to an entire joke spread is "that's wrong." Duh. That's the point. It's the people that get mad at him that are encouraging that type of humor. As long as there are people to get offended, there is room for that joke. Tosh is definitely offensive, completely rude, asinine, ridiculous with everything, and uses jokes to get a reaction out of people. I think Tosh is hilarious, and I watch him whenever I can. I agree with just about anything that he does, because he says it. I feel like I can't, but I think it to myself and have a chuckle. Just because you are not comfortable saying what's on your mind, should not mean you can chide him on what he has said. Do I think what he said was right? : That's a toss-up. I think that he is 100% correct in throwing a comment to the girl trying to ruin his joke. From what I can tell he is opinionated and proud of it, and will fiercely defend his right to say what he believes everyone is thinking. ( and in my case, he's usually right ) I think that perhaps what he said could have been a bit more tactful, but an appropriate response to her was to make a rape joke to further prove that he does not care what that woman had to say, and further prove that rape jokes CAN be funny. Simply ONE person in the audience laughing at her being heckled is enough for me to say he did it for a laugh. Once again, and I cannot stress this enough: If you want to play with the big boys, watch what you say when you say it. Timing is everything. He does not have to hold back, and you think that you do. That's why you will always get offended. This world is getting far to offended, far too catering, and far too lenient with people who expect the world to be perfect. Without something to be made fun of, comedy might not exist. Sorry that rape was the topic, but at least he's being original, and bold enough to make light of a dark topic. Props Always, Tosh.

  • Davis

    And hecklers should be punched in the face repeatedly by a line of people waiting to see Justin Beiber who should also be punched. It's just plain out rude to stand up and interrupt a performance of any sort no matter how you feel. I watched a broadway show last week (which I knew it would but I went anyways after watching a south park episode to make my wife "happy") and it was horrible. Should I have got up and start heckling the actors? It seems everyone's has opinions these days just to have one, well if you don't like my opinion, I don't care! :)

  • Davis

    I think it was pretty professional of him to keep going with his act. Fans of Daniel Tosh know what kind of comedian he is. Just like if you go to a Gallagher show and you get sprayed with watermelon and you go " I just paid $1000 for this suit "..in which anyone with a brain would reply "WHY" and " You shouldn't have went." The same applies for a TV show, you have the power, believe it or not, to CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Mind blowing stuff I know. In summary, don't go to a show, especially a comedy club, if you think there's a chance you might get offended

  • Albert Couillard
    Albert Couillard

    The argument that "Well the woman went to a comedy club and especially a Daniel Tosh show - she should have expected that treatment by Tosh, is also interesting. Should Tosh, as a "professional" comedian not expect hecklers and just take them in stride?

  • Albert Couillard
    Albert Couillard

    Solet me get this straight: It is okay for a "comedian" to be as offensive and shocking as they want to be and that is accpetable. If, however, an audience member dares react in any way other than falling down at the comedian's feet and praising their "genius", that person should be subject to public humiliation and open threats of violence. Hmmm. Seems to me based on this logic if an audience does not like a comedian's routine they should be able to take that person and beat them with baseball bats and then stand there and laugh. Oh, what? Suddenly that is not fair?

  • Davis

    I think people are taking comedy and making it serious cause they're miserable and like watching Nancy Grace (god I hate capitalizing that woman's name but I'm such a perfectionist WHY ME!)...Anyways, Obviously rape is wrong but it's Daniel Tosh. You should know what you're getting yourself into, shame on her!

  • Tab

    It's about as comical as child molestation and slavery! Why SHOULDN'T he be castigated? For anyone to give him or anyone a free pass on making fun of rape is only opening the door for jokes on the 2 subjects in the first sentence. Stop making piss poor excuses for bad behavior. I don't owe him shit, let alone respect or approval under any circumstance. Get over yourself ,your ignorance is mind-boggling!

  • suchislife

    uh,oh - your numbers aren't quite accurate - because when they raped yo mamma it changed to 10/10 liking the deed. The real fun starts when you try guessing which one is yo daddy ---- you dumb POS

  • HA

    Sounds like somebody needs to bet raped

  • nmad

    Going to a comedy show and making a JOKE about rape I can understand. May not like it, but you either put up with until the person moves on or just leave the show. If what he said about the woman should get raped right now ... that was not a joke but was a reaction, which to me makes the difference. As a female, I would've felt incredibly uncomfortable had someone said that about me, so I can understand her reaction. No one should be "castigated", but when someone says something this stupid they should be made to feel it so they learn their lesson.

  • Brit

    This is why i hate comedians their is so much shit you can talk about and he chooses "rape" that's never fucking funny. But that's white people for you, they feel they can do whatever they want....Welp we'll see how funny it is when that trailer trash cracker Daniel gets raped

  • Andrea

    You will get your ass handed to you if you say the 'N' word, but if you humiliate a woman, it's totally fine. I can see laughing at a joke about rape - but he targeted an audience member, laughing at the possibility of her being gang raped. If you're that woman, sitting in the audience, that's got to be a scary situation - it's not some random joke about a stranger. Plus, what he said wasn't even funny! I don't mind being offended, but feeling physically threatened is all together different. As far as these other comics who are supporting him, I hope they all get rapped too - that's would be soooo funny.

  • A former rape victim...
    A former rape victim...

    I hope that Tosh takes this opportunity to develop a really insane set on heckling and the people who heckle. Maybe he could do a set on... on wait, he's probably already done that... Anyone who takes themselves that seriously does not belong in a comedy club to begin with, at least not one for adults. That's what comedy is for people! To shine the skewed light of hilarity on horrible subjects, to take the power out of them, to push us out of our personal comfort zones just long enough to get a different perspective. I didn't hear the joke but knowing his style I bet $100 that I would have been slightly offended but seen the humor and laughed anyway...

  • Shut Up
    Shut Up

    Rape jokes are hilarious. Get over yourselves you feminazis. Besides, rape isn't so bad. Take gang rape for example. 9/10 people enjoy it!

  • getoveryourself

    nobody in their right minds actually thinks rape is funny. but get over yourselves. you KNOW if you go to a comedy show that the possibility of a comic saying something offensive or inappropriate is like 99.5%. this is what they do. if you have ever watched daniel tosh then you KNOW his entire act is completely inappropriate and offensive. if you had shown up for a neil diamond concert and daniel tosh was accidentally put on stage instead... then you could be all righteous. anybody who goes to the laugh factory expecting vanilla comedy is delusional.

  • Tab

    His "joke" isn't funny, maybe the ones that do find sadistic humor are actual rapist themselves. Maybe he should be gang raped by 5 guys and find some humor in that to exploit for a couple of laughs. He is irrelevant and pathetic. And for his fellow peers "rallying" around him, perhaps they have such a dismal career that by minimizing that cowardly and sick act, are looking to for a subject to bastardiz for a couple of little laughs from the pervs in their audience. His reasoning for going on and on about the woman (should be raped according to reports) who spoke out was because she heckled him..REALLY?? What a little little needle dick man.

  • twinklemepink06

    I personally hate his "humor." I'm not sorry about it either. RAPE IS NOT FUNNY. If you keep making "jokes" about it, then you are desensitizing it as if it is nothing. I'd like to see if he would make jokes about it if he was raped.

  • Emily

    edit: The Laugh Factory

  • Emily

    If what the blogger described is what Tosh said - yes, I think it's disgusting. I also think in that case that it's disgusting that "the N word" is banned at the Comedy Factory, yet suggesting that it would be funny for an audience member "to be raped right now" - or that it would be funny for ANYONE to be raped, EVER - is completely passable. Since when is being physically violated in arguably the worst and most intimate way a person can be violated even comparable to merely being called a pejorative term?! WTF is wrong with people...!?!