i’ve read about the daniel tosh thing. if you haven’t, google it. i’m frankly too lazy to go find you something that will take you thirty seconds to find yourself. but my point is not that i’m lazy, so let’s move on.
i’ve done a little stand-up. it’s fun and addicting and hard. it is really hard to put yourself out there and wait for someone to react positively to your material. it’s taking that vain writer part of yourself and subjecting it to immediate and sometimes intense criticism. it is not for the thin-skinned.
moreover, you’re not reading off a piece of paper up there. you’ve memorized these bits, and sometimes you’re embellishing them a bit as you go, and the whole thing can get pretty rococo if you’re not careful and just you kinda need to be able to keep the thread as you talk and not let any external influences get to you. which is where hecklers come in.
hecklers are giving you that immediate, intense feedback. they are interrupting your concentration. who knows why? to let you know how they feel. sometimes just to trip you up to see how you react. to be the funny one, the cool one, in front of their friends. doesn’t matter. their motive is not your concern. your concern is to give the best show you can deliver, which in almost all cases means IGNORING THE HECKLER.
the woman who gave her feedback at the tosh show wasn’t heckling, exactly. she wasn’t trying to be funny. she was being part of a conversation, but the conversation was implied rather than overt, and she made it overt. it’s a thing that can destroy your concentration if you’re not on top of your game. some people can interact with audience members successfully when the audience members initiate the interaction. most can’t. tosh has proven he can’t. and if he knew that about himself and didn’t try, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
i’m sure he was uncomfortable. the power, the spotlight, was momentarily taken away from him. it’s disconcerting. what he did was try to wrest power back. you can do it in certain situations–i think dave attell is particularly good at dealing with hecklers in this way. the problem with this particular power grab? the subject matter. whether rape can in any situation be funny or not is actually immaterial, as far as i’m concerned. it wasn’t funny then.
a woman was expressing her legitimate discomfort with the idea that someone would joke about something she considers deadly serious. she was asserting her own power. that didn’t work for tosh or the bit he was in the middle of, so he tried to take power back. but rape–and tell me if you’ve heard this before, i certainly have, and it’s certainly true–rape is not about sex. RAPE IS ABOUT POWER. rape is about control. so when a woman says hey, it’s not funny when a man tries to take control of a woman’s body, and a man responds by saying, hey, wouldn’t it be funny if ALL THESE MEN took control of YOUR body? it’s not a legitimate way of dealing with a heckler. it is, in fact, a horrific way of erasing a woman’s voice. it is, in fact, a threat. you took my power away, so let’s see if i can make all the men in the audience side with me and want to take yours.
satire is funny because it makes fun of wielders of power. this is not satire. this is a bloody knife.
don’t be tosh.