When Rep. Todd Akin tried to cloak his ignorance in science, he birthed (no pun intended) one of the week’s most caustic catchphrases: “legitimate rape.” Politicos on both sides of the aisle balked, calling for the Missouri Republican’s to resign from his congressional race (SPOILER ALERT: He didn’t). But Akin’s absurd, slut-shaming stupidity wasn’t the only rape-related controversy to infuriate the masses this summer. Way back in July, comedian Daniel Tosh tried to be funny. He really should stop that. Because when he make a crack that rape jokes are always super duper funny, one audience member grew offended, yelling, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!” Tosh’s retort was somehow less funny than his original spiel: he joked that five men should gang bang the girl for daring to heckle at a comedy show. The incident gained national attention through a Tumblr blog post, igniting a web-wide conversation about society’s perception of rape and a solid condemnation of Tosh. Bloggers, pundits and random Tweets have all put in their two cents. For our part, we rounded up some of the most cringe-worthy, debate-sparking comedian “jokes.” Legitimately funny or completely crossing the line? It’s your call — but we’re sticking with “decidedly unfunny.”
1) Daniel Tosh
“Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”
See intro. Blech blech blech.
2) Tracy Morgan
“If my son talks to me in a gay voice, I will pull out my knife and stab him.” And after being booed, “If they can take a f***** d*** up their ass, they can take a f***** joke.”
Even the audience in notoriously gay-unfriendly Tennessee (see its government’s recent, failed push to pass a bill banning discussion of LGBT issues in public schools) couldn’t stomach Morgan’s shtick. The zany comedian made headlines in 2011 for bringing this homophobic — and not to mention patricidal — joke to a Nashville theater. In a year full of tragic teen suicides, Morgan’s joke was too real, too cruel.
In another heckler-comedian showdown, Richards shed the lovable goofball image he’d cultivated on “Seinfeld” (ask your parents) when he tried to quell audience members at a 2006 Laugh Factory performance. His strategy? Racial epithets. Bad move, especially when the whole outburst was caught on a cell-phone camera. Technology these days.
“Fifty years ago, we’d have had you dangling upside down with a fucking fork shoved up your ass! He’s a n******!” Richards screamed at black audience members, referencing lynching. With racial inequalities in America far from being resolved and much tension surrounding the n-word, pretty much no one sided with Kramer.
4) Louis C.K
Louis C.K. is generally a provocative but hysterical comedian who commands a lot of respect for not shying away from big issues. But in 2006, he learned that time, place and taste are everything. C.K. performed at a comedy fundraiser for a homeless women’s shelter and decided he should definitely make a domestic abuse joke and crack one about smashing his four-year-old daughter’s head in. Right. We’ll categorize that one as a misfire.
5) Daniel Tosh
On pranking his sister, Tosh said earlier this year, “I replaced her pepper spray with silly string. Anyway, that night she got raped, and she called me the next day going, ‘You son of a bitch, you got me so good. As soon as I started spraying him in the face I’m like “Daniel, this is gonna really hurt.”’”
Please, Tosh. No more rape jokes.