I know it’s annoying when a heckler has something to say during your standup routine. We all get it. The person on stage is the one who’s supposed to say whatever will get the audience to react, and the audience is supposed to either laugh or forever hold their peace. That’s more or less the unstated contract.
But when is the appropriate response to heckling “get raped?”
If you’re Daniel Tosh, any time.
In a post on the Tumblr Cookies For Breakfast, the author’s friend recounts her experience being verbally assaulted by
the comedian, Tosh.
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!”
I did it because, even though being “disruptive” is against my nature, I felt that sitting there and saying nothing, or leaving quietly, would have been against my values as a person and as a woman. I don’t sit there while someone tells me how I should feel about something as profound and damaging as rape.
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 acknowledged the incident on Twitter, offering a back-handed apology.
While this caused a pretty noticeable outcry on Twitter and Tumblr, this is hardly the first time Daniel Tosh has made a rape joke. It was just that this was probably the first time it was so explicit. Earlier “jokes” like challenging viewers to touch women on their stomachs while sitting down, were implicitly rapey in the sense that they called for violating personal space.
So I’m left wondering, what’s worse? A rape joke that’s a rape joke on it’s face, or a rape joke disguised as a funny prank that you should totally try? The guy who tells the rape jokes, or the crowds who laugh at his rape jokes?