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Daniel Tosh, Louis C.K. and why rape jokes can be funny

- July 11th, 2012
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Actor Louis C.K. arrives at the Hollywood FX Summer Comedies Party in Los Angeles, California June 26, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

A lot of people will tell you that rape jokes are never funny. It’s a common line, especially among feminists, and one I don’t agree with.

And it’s exactly what one heckler said to stand-up comedian Daniel Tosh at a recent show at The Laugh Factory:

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 didn’t 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.

Comedy, at its best, is a coping mechanism. It’s a tool to deal with the sometimes overwhelming horror and despair in the world. Life can, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it and sometimes people need just need to laugh at the absurdity of it all. It’s no coincidence that many comedians are depressed.

But discussing sexual violence, even in comedy, is a slippery slope. As Alyssa Rosenberg notes at Think Progress, if you’re going to make a rape joke, you’d damn well better bring your A-game.

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