I edit a humor column called Funny Women on TheRumpus.net, and during my first and last radio interview about “funny women,” the host asked me if I thought rape jokes were funny. She said, “Rape jokes are never funny.” I said I thought anything could be funny. I went a step beyond and said jokes about tragedy could take on a fierce power. They could be cathartic and empowering, they could help you reclaim control when you’ve lost something you’ll never get back or have been damaged beyond repair.
On Friday night, during his set at the Laugh Factory, the hugely popular Comedy Central host Daniel Tosh made a rape joke, stripping the experience of its weight, of its tragedy, of its crime: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl [referring to an audience member who “heckled” him about rape jokes not being funny earlier in his set] got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”
A friend of “that girl” wrote about the exchange on her Tumblr, and bless her for doing so. We must mark these verbal assaults to manage them. Tosh’s poorly capitalized retort, via Twitter: “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.”