Daniel Tosh and racist jokes

Is this supposed to be funny or ironic?

I know it’s kinda stale… but can’t decide on other ways to describe it.

He seems to hide it rather well.

So is/was Don Rickles racist? He’d say shit like “I don’t want the black guy to talk.” “What are you, Puerto Rican? Get me a coffee.” Is it that Tosh isn’t saying it to the potentially-offended person’s face, but to a crowd of probably-white people?

There’s one big racist joke in True Stories I Made Up where he talks about, if your plane crashed in the mountains and you had to eat the other passengers to stay alive, what would other ethnicities taste like? He brings up Chinese and Mexicans, which I don’t remember, but then he goes, “Get ready. Black people? Taste like chicken! :smiley: serious All’s fair. White people…you don’t eat white people. I’m sorry. That’s how that joke has to end.” It’s not about laughing at non-white people, though, it’s about making his audience uncomfortable.

I thought that’s what was meant by “getting away with it”–when people who wouldn’t like describing themselves as racists laugh at jokes that turn on clearly racist notions and don’t think the teller is a real ass for telling them.

Thing is, is it racist? I think most of the time, when someone is “getting away with it,” they aren’t racist and neither is their audience; it’s less that people are laughing because it’s true, and more that they’re laughing because it’s simply offensive and silly. “Holy crap, did you just say that?” kind of thing.

He does the same thing in his stand up routine, and I for one think it’s hilarious.

One of my other favorite stand ups is Russell Peters, originally from here in Ontario. He’s East Indian, and makes some very shocking and provocative statements about race that, based on the audiences in his DVDs and TV specials, seem to leave a relatively mixed race audience in stitches.

An interesting article about the race element in his stand-up routine:

In all of this, it seems the elephant in the room is that one comic is white, while the “other” is a person of color. “Othering” seems to me to be the issue which makes Tosh as contentious as he is. You can argue whether this is good or not, but in the coming years and decades of the 21st century, I really see us moving away from white as the racial normative, and male as the gender normative, which I think has interesting implications for the realm of entertainment.

I disagree. Let’s go with a concrete example from the show: “Is It Racist?” (For those not wanting to click on it (or who can’t), it’s a clip of a black man with a ton of bling on throwing $100 bills out on a pool table. Tosh then puts up a response video of him going through his “I’m really white” act, and showing his tax returns, talking a bit about his investment portfolio, talks about not wearing jewelry (“I’m against conflict diamonds…”), then pulls out his diploma (“This is called a college degree…”), and goes through his wallet where he has $47 in cash (“this is used for tipping. You see, tipping is something you do when someone provides you a service…”).)

That hits a TON of racial stereotypes - but is it racist? No. It makes fun of the absurdity of someone posting a YouTube video of themselves with a ton of cash and bling on. The tipping thing is a racial jab, but it’s a joke so old and tired that bringing it up can’t be anything other than ironic.

That was the least ironic reference to anything I’ve ever seen called unquestionably ironic. If he was just giving an ironic nod to some antiquated belief, you’d think he wouldn’t immediately explain the “joke” by pointing out why he brought up tipping in the first place.

Exactly - making people laugh at their own discomfort by making light of taboo subjects that aren’t joked about in polite society is the whole point of black humor. Somebody’s seriously missing the point if they hear that joke and say to themselves “Ha ha, it’s funny 'cause it’s true! Black people really do taste like chicken! You really don’t eat white people!”

I can see the irony in this particular bit.

But I was watching an episode where there was a black family. The father and his young daughter were doing a complicated basketball dunking trick. And one of Tosh’s comments was how the really amazing thing about the video was that a black father was spending time with his child. Or another video where Tosh’s comments included a couple of jokes about Mexicans smelling bad.

These had nothing to do with the content of the video clip. The only connection was that there were black people or Spanish people in the clip so Tosh made some racist jokes.

If these same jokes were being made at a Tea Party protest or on the Rush Limbaugh show, people would be all over it with protests. So why is Tosh.0 getting a pass on doing the same thing?

Because Tea Partyers, while saying and doing some pretty funny/stupid things, aren’t playing it for laughs?


As thinksnow said, they’re not saying it for laughs. I would also think that Rush or a bunch of Tea Partyers wouldn’t be giving equal time to making fun of every other demographic out there, which Tosh certainly does. It’s hard to paint Tosh with the racist brush when the next joke he makes is just as likely to be about his own demographic as it is some other group.

It is a tricky thing, because there’s lots of shades and greys when it comes to humor. Why is it okay from one person and not another? You can’t even fall back on “you can make fun of your own race but not others” because guys like Tosh and Rickles go after everyone, and it’s understood that they’re just fucking around.

I think that’s the crux of it. Somehow these guys give the impression that they don’t actually mean what they’re saying. They’re saying it for the shock value, but in the end it’s all in fun. On the other hand, there are times when a white guy telling racial jokes can come off as racist, because for whatever reason he’s giving off the vibe that, while he may not believe what he’s saying, he’s still saying it to denigrate the people he’s talking about.

It’s those “somehows” and “for whatever reasons” that make it so difficult to figure out. It’s not something that can easily be objectively defined.

ETA: And then there’s guys like Chris Rock, who has an entire segment on why he loves black people but hates niggers. He identifies them as a subculture of black people, like whites have their white trash, but he still rips into every stereotype about blacks. And it does come off that it’s not entirely in fun, and he really dislikes the shit some people pull. And, yeah, other than it being a black man talking about other black people, it does come off as nasty and a little racist. But I’m there laughing with everyone else. I can’t really explain why Rock gets a pass here, other than he’s absolutely fricking hilarious.

For the same reason Jon Stewarts takedown of Crossfire. One is supposed to be serious and the other is done for comedic effect.

Because he’s not actually a bigot. He’s not making the joke to express his true feelings on race and give those in the audience a chance to laugh along because they agree, he’s making the joke because it’s so clearly over the line. In his standup he sometimes warns his audience ahead of time and apologizes at the beginning of his act. On his show he’s also cracked jokes at a seriously disturbing video of a guy in a trampoline accident getting a compound fracture of the ankle - the joke isn’t that he actually thinks compound fractures are funny and that much of his audience secretly agrees, the joke is that somebody would actually joke about that.

That trampoline video haunts me to this day.

Instead of stopping him or calling the cops, you filmed it and posted it on YouTube.

And for that, we thank you.

:dubious: A comedian telling racist jokes? Do go on.

If you go to a comedy club in any major city, you will see black guys making fun of white guys, white guys making fun of black guys, and Asians making fun of whoever they feel like. The atmosphere is generally festive, and no one takes it seriously. I think it does more to bring races together than the oversensitive nagging about what constitutes appropriate humor.

Being from Western Canada I was completely unaware of the apparent racially-based trends regarding tipping in the U.S., and acknowledge that there may be an intended connotation with that, however it should be noted that the actual statement about tipping was carefully not racist: “I am told that people who wear a lot of jewelery and carry large amounts of cash are the worst tippers.”

This generic observation is totally non-racial and rings true for food service workers even in areas where race isn’t a polarizing issue. (Say this here and most waitrons will understand that you’re referring to American tourists of every stripe, shade, and hue – the cheap bastids.)