Sorry, Daniel Tosh: You just lost an ally. In a treatise of over 6,000 words, comedian Patton Oswalt Friday spoke out on the rape joke controversy, pointedly retracting his support of Tosh’s stance to make jokes about anything, regardless of subject matter.
But first, let’s rewind. Last summer, the host of Tosh.0 found himself in a sticky situation after a spectator complained about the way she was treated at one of his shows. Specifically: As Tosh was allegedly riffing about how hilarious rape jokes are at an open mike, the spectator felt moved to shout out, “Actually, rape is never funny!” By her account, Tosh paused, then said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…?”
While Tosh issued an apology for the incident — “all the out of context misquotes aside” — it sparked a long-simmering conversation about feminism, the male-dominated comedy community, and what is and isn’t acceptable in making light of horrific and tragic topics. Tosh’s opponents argued that there’s a difference between jokes that lampoon the absurdity of rape culture — an attitude that normalizes, excuses, and tolerates sexual assault — and jokes that mock the victims of that assault. Tosh’s supporters, by contrast, accused his opponents of censorship, saying that there should be no limits on what comedians should be able to joke about.
Among the people in that second camp: Patton Oswalt, who told EW at Comic-Con that while he didn’t agree with what Tosh said, he thought it was “very dangerous to create an atmosphere where people can’t f— up,” since open mikes are meant as safe spaces for comedians to try out new material.
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