Two Fridays ago, while you were gallivanting about on the town, the audience at L.A.’s Laugh Factory was heckling Daniel Tosh as he made an off color joke about gang rape. While the exact details of the exchange are still being disputed, (Tosh reportedly joked back to the woman “wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…”) Tosh’s apology (a tweet saying “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. #deadbabies) and the ensuing media surrounding the incident is what is most of interest to PR professionals such as ourselves.
Should Tosh have been forced to apologize because of social pressure? Most comedians feel that they are equal opportunity offenders but does that mean that there is no joke that is off limits? From a PR standpoint, as we saw last week, one of the most important things that a brand can do is stay true to their voice. While what Tosh said may be offensive he was sticking to his voice in his act, which people revere and actually pay money to see.
P.T. Barnum has been quoted saying, “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.” The ensuing media that the incident has created could actually be seen as a good thing for Tosh, as hundreds of his fans have come to his defense, citing that his offensive statements were directly in line with the rest of his act. While the Tosh.O audience waits to see how the incident plays out, it is hoped that Tosh will be able to do a web redemption on himself.