In a recent conversation surveying the landscape of current comedy clip-based shows (The Soup, The Onion SportsDome), David Simon Cowell mentioned that he enjoys the show Tosh.0 on Comedy Central. Not in an “oh my God, you have to check out this amazing can’t-miss laugh-fest over here” way — more like in a “this show is kind of funny” way. Even so, I was surprised, as based on the little bits of Daniel Tosh that I had seen online, he seemed like a milquetoast version of Dane Cook trying desperately to be Joel McHale. But because of the respect I have for my partner, I checked out some episodes of Tosh.0.
This may be confirmation bias at work (it’s not), but I hated Daniel Tosh and his show much more than I had thought possible. He’s an empty vessel in a hipster cardigan, and his show is a bully pulpit mocking the easiest targets in our society. Worse than that: it’s just not funny. As we all know, funny forgives a lot. And there’s a lot here that needs forgiveness and doesn’t succeed in finding it.
Things That Are Wrong With Daniel Tosh
The Name of His Show
His Self-Satisfied Smirk
There’s a fine line between what Tosh.0 does and what The Soup does. (For the purposes of this discussion, we’re pretending Web Soup with Chris Hardwick doesn’t exist.) Both play clips of (often unintentionally) funny moments, and then a smirking host makes a wisecrack or two at the video subject’s expense. Yet somehow the two shows feel worlds apart.
And it’s not as if the reality show boozemonsters that The Soup eviscerates are dignified; it’s just that the lack of dignity that pervades everything about Tosh.0 is so all-encompassing that you feel like you’ve bathed in slime after watching. Making fun of people who do dumb things on YouTube is now officially the lowest form of comedy. It’s ten million steps down from watching guys get kicked in the groin on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Making fun of these people is like making fun of the kid at school with Down Syndrome — it’s just dickish. Granted, the majority of these targets uploaded the videos themselves as a desperate attention grab, but that somehow makes it all even more unseemly.
I’ve never had more respect for Joel McHale than after watching Daniel Tosh do his thing. That McHale can mock stupid people for a half hour every single week and still come out likable is a monumentally impressive feat.
His Twitter Feed
- has anyone ever died of diarrhea? thank you peruvian restaurant for putting me on a surprise cleanse.
- it may be too late for some of you guys, but you do need to perfect both styles of masterbation [sic]: dry and lubricated
- the trick to running a marathon is to run super fast so you dont have to run as long. FACT!
- “real housewives” you keep pretending that you have meaningful careers and ill pretend that you are more than just housewives.
Man. Where can I catch this guy’s act live?
As I said earlier, if Tosh were funny, he wouldn’t seem like such a terrible person. But the fact that he’s desperately trying to be funny and falling flat on his face magnifies his plentiful flaws.
His punchlines are always the most obvious possible choice of the infinite number of possible ways to end a given joke:
- [a video plays of a terrible weatherman] Tosh: “We don’t need weatherman in California because there’s only one kind of weather here: nice.”
- Tosh: “Unbreakable. Just like the bond between Levi and Bristol.”
And the jokes themselves are often rooted in cruelty instead of humor. Some examples:
- [a video plays of an old person dancing] Tosh: (singing) “Hey Oldie, it’s your birthday/We’re gonna party because you’re probably gonna die real soon”
- [a video plays of an one-legged man dancing with a partner] Tosh: “And one and one and one and one and one and one and….”
The jokes are often sexist (comparing a women’s breasts to weather balloons) and homophobic (using “gay” as a pejorative term consistently). And did I mention trite? (A Chris Farley van-down-by-the-river impression)
Fratty sexist douche. Redundant, I know.
Tosh.0 is an abortion of a TV show. In watching several episodes, there was never any threat I might laugh. (But it’s a man in a dress! That’s funny! Always!) This program is “comedy” only in the sense that the irreversible decline of our society is hilarious. Watching Tosh.0 is somehow more depressing than staying up all night, drinking by yourself, and watching the same five or six YouTube videos over and over again.