July 11, 2012

Hecklers Deserve To Get Gang Raped

Do I actually believe that? Of course not. It’s a gross exaggeration. It’s an over-the-top statement to display my attitude towards the target in question.

All this uproar over Daniel Tosh’s recent verbal confrontation at the Laugh Factory seems absolutely ridiculous and really a non-story, in my opinion.

Comic says something in jest. Audience member vocally disapproves. Comic shuts them down.

This series of events probably happens a hundred times over the course of a week in comedy clubs across the country combined. On at least one of those occasions, the comedian has likely uttered forcibly to member of the crowd to literally “shut the fuck up”. Not even jokingly in tone whatsoever. I’m talking with a tone of vitriol. “For crying out loud, for all that is holy and for the sake of humanity, please just shut the fuck up!”

But no one flies off the handle when that happens. In fact, the rest of the audience usually claps in approval. Oh, and the crowd is not cheering because they agree with the vile things the comedian on stage has verbally wished upon the heckler. I’m sure they don’t actually think he butt-fucked the guy’s mother. They’re on the comedian’s side because this one audience member is interfering with the performance of a show they paid to see. That’s all. And if calling that woman a whore is the quickest way to get back in track, so be it. Is this the best way of dealing with the issue? Probably not. But that is, in fact, the motivation behind it from the comedian’s pespective. Louie C.K. here puts it very well:

The tabloid fodder of Michael Richards’ infamous heckler tirade is a great example of this concept in action. While I believe he still handled the situation poorly from a professional standpoint (probably due to his inexperience working clubs on a regular basis), the motivating factor was still the same. Get these disruptive people to either to shut up or leave.

I don’t believe Michael Richards is a racist. I think if the audience members were of other races or ethnicities, he would have used the respective derogatory terms similarly to express his severe disapproval of the interference of his show.

I don’t believe Daniel Tosh condones rape. If it weren’t for the fact he was actually talking about the subject at that exact time, he probably wouldn’t have tied that in into his encounter. It was more a comedic decision than anything else. (hence why it would be a slightly different story if someone just yelled “you suck!” and he replied with “get gang raped!”)

Rude is in the eye of the beholder.

The common stereotype from outsiders is that New Yorkers are rude. Living there for 28 years, I admit I’ve accidentally bumped into people walking on the sidewalk on more than one occasion. It’s a crowded place, so inevitably it will happen. When it’s my fault, I say “sorry”. The thing is, though, more than half the time it isn’t my fault at all. Some tourist is looking up at the big pretty buildings in the smack-dab middle of the busy sidewalk of people trying to catch a subway home after work at five o’clock. We’re not rude, asshole. You are.

As the heckler wrote herself:

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.

Putting the argument whether or not the subject matter of rape can actually be funny aside (which is not the scope of this post), the whole basis of the lack of context in her viewpoint is summed up in that last sentence. Someone isn’t telling you how you should feel. They’re performing a comedy act. It’s as relative as me interrupting a full movie theater watching Schindler’s List to express my disdain as a Jew to see the holocaust and suffering of my people be turned into a blockbuster film. It’s a fucking movie. Not a pulpit.

Jamie Masada, the owner of the Laugh Factory, obviously understands this context also:

Daniel Tosh did not attack this young lady. I feel bad for her and I apologize to her. If you are a member of the audience and you start dishing out something to a comic and try to be funny, you better be able to take it.

If Daniel Tosh was caught on tape off-stage seriously talking about going out to gang rape women – that would be a story. A comedian shutting down a heckler on stage? That isn’t.