Dear Daniel Tosh,
I know it’s been a rough couple of days for you. Everyone is angry and you probably haven’t the faintest why. That wasn’t the reaction you expected at all! You get up on stage to make people laugh. Come here, sweetie, sit on my lap while I explain something to you about life and humor.
The thing about jokes is that, well, they have to be funny.
Or at least, they have to have the theoretical capacity for teh funny. When I inflict one of my many punderful witticisms on my friends, neighbors, and innocent bus stop comrades, I know that beneath their pained expressions and cringing body language, they recognize that there was some sour ume scrap of teh funny tucked away inside the onigiri of my shamelessness.
They know that while getting to teh funny might not be pleasant and sure as fuck wasn’t worth the effort, I did at least try to not waste their fucking time with only a pretense of a joke. I didn’t piss on their back and tell them it’s Wednesday. There’s a pickled plum in there somewhere.
And so, though they may begin tuning me out in the future, they don’t react with anger. What I said didn’t piss them off. Or at least when it does, like that time I made a ‘you already told that story, bro’ joke at a wake, it was so, so worth it.
Now, here’s where we part ways. I know you fancy yourself a comedian. And occasionally, you’ve managed to cough up teh funny yourself. I’ve seen it! But here’s the thing about what you said to that audience member: teh funny, it had none.
Now, sweetie, before you go dismissing me as one more dried up cunt who can’t laugh at rape, hear me out. The heckler was only partially right. Rape jokes can be funny. You briefly sideswiped the point, saying, “the point i was making before i was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them.”
That’s true! But for fuck’s sake, Tosh, they have to be jokes first.
Where was the clever word play? What was the double entendre? Was it in any way ironic? Was there an unexpected twist? The question you apparently failed to ask yourself before attempting that joke was this: Why would it have been funny if she’d been raped right then?
Your answer, judging from your complete failure to even leave an IOU for teh funny, can only be that it would be funny because she didn’t think rape was funny and…what? She still wouldn’t think rape was funny? Wow. What a twist! It’s like how ironic it is when it rains on your wedding day.
So here’s a few pointers because I’m a generous dude and I hate to see someone make a joke that falls flat. That’s my schtick, damnit. I need it!
The most efficient way to accomplish a rape joke is to make YOURSELF punch line. The form of the joke would be something like, “Nah, dude, I tell rape jokes all the time. Sometimes they laugh so hard they cry a little.” Teh funny is in the fact that I’ve made myself the butt of the joke.
The joke is not that seeing someone get raped is funny – and if you’re not a complete sociopath, you don’t need me to explain why – it’s that I’m a horrible, horrible person, and teh funny is that you as the listener don’t expect me to just come right out and be awful. It’s also in the unexpected reshaping of the meaning of the phrase ‘rape joke’ from joke about rape to joke made during rape.
But you, my friend, made the mistake of, well, just coming right out and being awful in a way we did expect.
Oh, another dude threatened a random woman with rape. And he did so to get her to shut up. Yawn. Dog bites man. Tell the one about the guy who drank alcohol and subsequently became inebriated.
What’s worse is that you did so in a way that was entirely un-self-aware. Dude: you’re a dude. Remember that next time. Otherwise, your cluelessness makes you the Rush Limbaugh of rape jokes, rather than the Stephen Colbert. You failed at laughter. You raped that rape joke.
Oh, and you’re welcome.
Special Disclaimer: Yea, I’m one of the one in four. There’s nothing funny about rape. But if I can’t joke about death on the way to the gallows then just fucking shoot me now, officer.