Rape is no Laughing Matter…

11 07 2012

…unless you’re raping a clown, says the t-shirt that T-Shirt Hell has sold on it’s website for maybe 10 years.

If you don’t know, Yesterday a blog post by a dumb chick about her experience heckling comedian Daniel Tosh went viral, and Tosh himself apologized. Somehow, people on twitter, bloggers, and some commentators in the national media made it known that he had crossed the comedy line, a line that they need to learn doesn’t exist. I shall comment on her story.

So, on Friday night my friend and I were at her house and wanted to get out and do something for the evening. We brainstormed ideas and she brought up the idea of seeing a show at the Laugh Factory. I’d never been, I thought it sounded fun, so we went. We saw that Dane Cook, along some other names we didn’t recognize we’re playing, and while we both agree that Cook’s style is not really our taste we were opened-minded about what the others had to offer. And we figured even good ol’ Dane can be funny sometimes, even if it’s not really our thing. Anyhoo, his act was actually fine…

I’m tempted to jump at Dane Cook’s defense, but I suppose it’s legitimate to not be a huge fan of his. I like him, but I admit I wasn’t totally on board when he became a rock star and sold out arenas. Still, being able to see a comedy show at a club with at least two comedy super-stars (who knows what other names they didn’t recognize) is a benefit of living in LA that she doesn’t seem to have much appreciation for. This is an experience that’s only available to people in New York and LA, and it’s hard to gain my sympathy when you benefit from this fact and display no discernible appreciation for it.

…but then when his was done, some other guy I didn’t recognize took the stage. Of course, I would find out later this was Daniel Tosh, but at the time I thought he was just some yahoo who somehow got a gig going on after Cook. I honestly thought he was an amateur because he didn’t seem that comfortable on stage and seemed to have a really awkward presence.

I’m trying to imagine seeing Tosh live without knowing who he is and making such an assessment. Maybe he really was nervous. Maybe he was trying something awkward. Or maybe this chick just generally doesn’t understand what’s going on in life. Tosh has the demeanor of a serial killer. He’s charming and threatening at the same time. As a comic, he’s a killer and has an amazing ability to make people laugh while tearing them down. He’s got crazy game, you might say.

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!”

You’re allowed to disagree. Hell, the point of the bit is that you’re supposed to disagree. You’re not allowed to interrupt his comedy show that others are enjoying and paid to see just to tell everyone what you don’t find funny. You do not have that right. When you do this, the comic or management of the venue have every right to kick you out of the show. This is extremely childish behavior, akin to bawling for your mommy because there’s no milk for your Lucky Charms. You are a selfish asshole if you ruin someone’s art. You are an asshole if you burn a book, deface a painting, cut a film, or ruin a comedians bit just because you’re offended by it. At a comedy show, you have a right to express what you do and don’t find funny by laughing and not laughing respectively. If you’re shocked, you may widen your eyes, drop your jaw, groan, or even boo. You may not “correct” the comedian. He’s not your history teacher who absent-mindedly said the wrong year. He’s trying to do his job, to make people laugh. If you derail this process he will have to find a way to react that works, that makes people laugh even though you ruined his bit. If he ignores your act of stupidity, he will lose the audience, so he must address your disruption to succeed at his job. With many comics, you should expect to be embarrassed. With someone like Tosh, you should expect to be humiliated, to have ego utterly destroyed.

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.

He wasn’t telling you how you should feel. He was doing a bit. You know this. You’re just trying to justify your cunty behavior to yourself and anyone who will listen.

The “as a woman” part leads me to wonder if this chick ever laughed at a joke directed at the comedy fountain of gold that is prison rape. Perhaps the t-shirt should say “…unless you’re raping your cell-mate.” Men and boys are frequently the victims of sexual assault and outright rape. Read all about that here
The stories are graphic and terribly unfunny.

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.

You totally didn’t need to leave. You needed to be the center of attention and succeeded. Suddenly, the show was all about you and you couldn’t handle it. Did you think some dudes were about to stand up, look to Tosh for a nod of approval before tearing your clothes off and taking turns? That was so probably not going to happen. Most of the guys there were probably with their wives, girlfriends, or women they hoped to have voluntary sex with at some point.

I can honestly understand that you felt threatened, but you were really in no danger. Tosh makes people laugh by making them uncomfortable. You were the least civilized person at the show.

Now in the lobby, I spoke with the girl at the will-call desk, and demanded to see the manager. The manager on duty quickly came out to speak with me, and she was profusely apologetic, and seemed genuinely sorry about what had happened, but of course we received no refund for our tickets, but instead a comped pair of tickets, although she admitted she understood if we never wanted to come back. I can imagine the Laugh Factory doesn’t really have a policy in place for what happens when a woman has to leave in a hurry because the person onstage is hurling violent words about sexual violence at her. Although maybe I’m not the first girl to have that happen to her.

“Violent words” you say? There is no such thing. What the fuck ever happened to “sticks and stones…?”

[…]The suggestion of it is violent enough and was meant to put me in my place.

It was absolutely meant to put you in your place as a member of the audience and not part of the act. Mission accomplished.

The popular reaction to this story threatens stand-up comedy. It could do to comedy clubs and “blue” comics what Janet Jackson’s nipple did to FCC regulated media, and that scares me. This is all for now, but I’ll have more to say on this subject by the end of the week.

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