If you’re a fan of YouTube videos you know him from his web-redemptions, where he finds famous fail-videos and gives the protagonists a shot to redeem themselves. If you’re a hardcore feminist, you probably know him from the voodoo doll made in his semblance you keep poking with needles. He was the center of a controversy thanks to a misguided rape joke. If you love stand-up comedy, you know him for his one hour specials “Completely serious” and “Happy Thoughts”. If you’re Mary Adelaide Tosh, you know him from being his mother.
As you figured out by the title, I know Daniel Tosh from his stand-up comedy. And no, I’m not his mother.
Daniel has an aggressive style. He is offensive by any normal standards, a few notches below Anthony Jeselnik and scores above Seinfeld. Many people accuse offensiveness of being a crutch. To them, I say “Fuck you”. If, like most people you, didn’t think that was funny, you can see how being offensive doesn’t make you funny. Yes, this is the definite proof.
The unique thing about his comedy is the way he starts from a believable and relatable premise and goes deeper and deeper into it, branching into more and more specific ways until his premise is unrecognizable. He gets a broad laugh in the beginning, generic enough for the whole crowd to laugh. Then he alienates the audience, either by making the jokes more offensive (albeit on the same topic) or by making more obscure references until, eventually, only a few of the crow members are laughing. This reminds me of a joke by Demetri Martin (one of my favourite comedians, soon to be written about in this space). Googled failed me again, so this is the gist of the joke: apparently there are some stores named “Big and Tall”. Demetri thought to add “and Asian” to the name. It’d be a really specific place, maybe not very profitable. But imagine being big, and tall, and… Asian. You’d step on the breaks, run over a few people and call that store home. That’s what Tosh’s comedy can do. Most times you frown your nose waiting for the broader jokes, but when one seems to be aimed specifically at your huge yellow self, it hits home big time.
I’m not the messiah, but you can follow me: