|Tosh.0: Is it racist?|
Stuff White People Like (SWPL) white people love Comedy Central because they love pop culture.All shows on the channel reward those viewers who stay abreast of trends and fads, though no show does this with greater intensity than does Tosh.0.
Starring comedian Daniel Tosh, the show features popular Internet videos and Tosh’s signature strange brand of dark humor laced with devastating social commentary in a program vastly more popular than other comedy channel programming.Constantly pushing the proverbial envelope of acceptable comedic discourse, Tosh has a creative license to thrill his audience with the kind of forbidden humor that Dave Chappelle abandoned back in 2004; i.e., Tosh makes fun of Black people.
Now, we know why Black people don’t like jokes at their expense, but Tosh has profited off of the plethora of hilarious clips on YouTube featuring Black people in compromising and stereotypically Black situations. He was the first person shrewd enough to use Internet footage of Black people walking through everyday Black life, using the situations as found objects around which he created a comedy show that spotlights these tragically Black moments.
His show continues to grow in popularity, destroying Colbert and The Daily Show (Jon Stewart) in the process. The problem is where his popularity is growing:
The episode of “Tosh.0” that aired Aug. 4, for instance, was the most watched show on all TV in the men’s 18-24 and 18-34 demographics, according to Comedy Central. And the “Tosh.0” blog is drawing eyes as well: It is the third most popular among Comedy Central’s digital sites, behind “South Park” and “The Daily Show.”
Comedy Central makes most of its headlines from the rapier-like satire of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report,” the demented mirth generated by “South Park” and “Futurama” and a bevy of stand-up specials. But the cable net may have another flagship program in its port, and perhaps even for the long term. “Tosh.0” is finishing ahead of Stewart and Colbert, and currently is Comedy Central’s No. 3 rated show, behind only “South Park” and “Futurama.”
“ ‘Tosh,’ for example, drew just 2.65 million viewers overall (for the episode that aired July 28) but stood as the No. 3 show on all of television — broadcast and cable — among men 18-34, behind only ‘Jersey Shore’ and ‘True Blood.’ Comedy Central has good reason to believe it has found its next star.”
Tosh is basically the comedic equivalent of a professional wrestler (a sport he might make fun of, but obviously loves). He has created an on-screen persona, one that is smarmy and pretentious, exceedingly arrogant, socially conscious yet socially unrefined, incredibly self-deprecating. He plays this exceptionally well, leaving people and viewers mystified as to his sexuality and feelings on race. In fact, Tosh plays a stereotypical SWPL white person to perfection; but in moments of hilarity, the untouchable white person sneaks out.
After all, he’s a white dude that has no problem making fun of Black people. I In his sidesplitting “Is it racist?” skits, Tosh shows videos of hilariously inappropriate Black moments and ask the viewer to answer that question.
He has given such classic YouTube Black sensations as the “Black guy who dances and gets hit by an Ice Cream Truck” the opportunity for a “Web Redemption,” thereby offering the Black person an opportunity to redeem themselves.
Imagine SWPL white people and untouchable whites as two categories in a Venn diagram. For the most part, both groups have no overlapping commonalities. But one thing both groups enjoy is laughing at Black people. (SWPL do it privately and feel bad for it; untouchable whites have the Blue Collar Comedy Tour to fulfill their comedic needs.)
This is one of the primary reasons YouTube exists: for people at work to e-mail hilarious Black clips of Black people engaging in Black behavior to one another.Tosh has simply capitalized on comedic black market goods (pardon the pun), these real life videos of Blacsk that everyone laughs at but which heretofore have remained largely untapped commercially. He has successfully monetized stupidity to an extent American Funniest Home Video’s could only dream of doing, and he's done it by relying on a steady stream of video clips featuring Black people acting Black.
This New York Times profile from 2009 tells you all you need to know about Tosh:
DANIEL TOSH grew up in central Florida, the son of a minister. Most likely, he was the quiet child in school, doodling at his desk rather than cutting up in class.
These days Mr. Tosh’s career as a comedian is on an upward trajectory. There is a solo coming up at Town Hall in New York in March and a string of engagements from Atlanta to Tempe, Ariz. His routines, popular on college campuses, manage to be philosophical, offensive and funny, even when a story deals with learning disabilities: “I’m a bad test taker!”
“No,” he tells the imaginary student. “You’re stupid!”
During a recent performance at the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach, part of the South Beach Comedy Festival, the comic, 33, had a carefully crafted look.
He wore a striped Obey hoodie, Earnest Sewn jeans and canvas Converse sneakers that conformed to the thug dress code: no belt, no shoelaces.
He came across as a lanky, handsome hipster doing an impression of a 13-year-old skater.
Backstage, his support team was idling. His manager, a vivacious blonde named Christie Smith, was talking loudly on a cellphone, and Mr. Tosh’s girlfriend, Megan Abrigo, chatted with Stacy Mark, his agent. Meanwhile, Mr. Tosh was on stage telling a joke about a device to measure Mariah Carey’s cleavage.
YouTube offers a glimpse into the real Black world, not the phony Black world that television scriptwriters manipulate on sitcoms. (Check out WorldStarHipHop.com for the “keeping it real” Black world.) Daniel Tosh is mining the mother lode when he indulges his viewers in doing what most people enjoy doing privately and out of the sight of polite society, laughing at the antics of Black people.
That Tosh has publicly taken advantage of this dirty little white secret and made it tolerable for people to engage in group laughter at Black people is the very essence of Stuff Black People Don’t Like.Sure, some SWPL white people might become publicly indignant and veheme in high dudgeon when they see Tosh.0 mocking Black people, But when no one else is around to judge them, you and I both know it's true: the SWPL white people are laughing too.
When Dave Chappelle did his skits, it was funny. Funny, that is, until he realized viewers were starting to laugh at Black people and not his material. Tosh is smart enough to realize a huge market exists that wants to see these Black videos exploited for their comedic potential.
Tosh is making it socially acceptable to make fun of Black people. Though white people might share jokes about Black people and e-mail videos to one another in private, hoping no Black person hears about or sees this highly punishable transgression, Tosh.0 is a form of catharsis, a guilty pleasure, for those who thought they were the only ones to laugh at Black people and Black behavior.
Instead, Tosh has shown that SWPL white people, that untouchable white people -- hell, that everyone laughs at Black people. That this has become a public knowledge and that Tosh has the most popular show on Comedy Central is obviously the Stuff Black People Don’t Like.