How many offensive jokes does it take for someone to actually be offended?
For some, just one. Jokes about race, gender, sexual orientation or economic status are always controversal, so why are comedians constantly pushing the envelope on what topics are okay to joke about?
That’s because most of today’s generation is more tolerant of such jokes. The youth of today have developed a sense of humor that allows them to not only feel comfortable making fun of others, but to also laugh when they themselves are made fun of. But at what point do even the “tolerant” comedy consumers start to feel personally targeted?
Today, most comedians with stand-up specials or successful shows on Comedy Central are often the biggest advocates of this style of comedy. Shows like “South Park” are based on making fun of stereotypes as well as current popular culture stories.
One could argue that the most popular program on Comedy Central is “Tosh.0”, where the main foundation of the show is to broadcast funny videos from the Internet and have the host, Daniel Tosh, provide his own satirical comments to them.
If these popular shows are based solely on making fun of people and current events, then who is watching them? A survey published in an article by the New York Times states that Comedy Central’s ratings have gone “up 10 percent this year among men 18 to 34 years old, its target audience.” The article also states the median age of viewers of the station is 39 years old.
While it’s clear the younger age demographic is the main consumer of this satirical humor, this doesn’t mean everyone under 40 can appreciate it. Tosh is one of today’s leaders in offensive jokes and it’s apparent he has no problem making a joke out of any topic he pleases.
For example, rape. A blog post was written after an incident at a comedy club where a girl felt Tosh pushed the envelope too far. A portion of his act was dedicated to rape jokes, and how he thought these jokes would always be funny. Soon, a female audience member spoke out and proclaimed she did not think they were funny at all. Tosh then continued to target her specifically and made a joke saying it would be even funnier if this girl were gang-raped by five guys.
I am in the age demographic that watches Comedy Central, and I am even an avid viewer of Tosh’s television program.
With that being said, I was taken aback by the way the comedian continued to target this girl and tease her when she was already offended. The reason I think these television programs and large stand-up shows are so successful is because they give the comedians an opportunity to make potentially offensive jokes without targeting specific individuals.
I am not stating the girl would have not been offended by these rape jokes, nor am I personally condoning rape jokes. What I am arguing is comedians have the right to include in their act whatever they want, but it shouldn’t be right to further harass someone just because they don’t agree with you.
I will still remain a fan of Tosh and I will stay a regular viewer of Comedy Central, despite the fact I might not always agree with the material used. Will I be offended by some jokes? Maybe. I’ve learned that sometimes, that’s just what makes them so funny.