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This is a tough argument to make, but if anybody can pull it off, it’s Tosh.0 host Daniel Tosh: “I’m not a misogynistic and racist person,” the very un-PC Comedy Central personality tells critics at TCA. “But I do find those jokes funny, so I say them.”
In other words: He’s not racist, he just plays one on TV. And he doesn’t even really do that, does he? Tosh manages to get away with some of the most envelope-pushing jokes around; lines that would draw outraged headlines coming from almost any other TV personality. Something about that big grin and his “I’m just playing” demeanor manages to dial back the edge — at least, in the court of public opinion. Plus, he smartly contextualizes his jokes, especially during the very on-point segment titled “Is It Racist?” He’s just asking, he explains (though typically the answer is a firm “yes”).
Interestingly, racist/sexist (and let’s not forget homophobic) punchlines are not usually the point of his content conversations with Comedy Central. “They don’t like making fun of children, handicaps, and women getting hit,” Tosh says. “They don’t like people to be lit on fire. Other things fly by.”
Asked if such content discussions are getting any easier as the show continues, Tosh says, “It’s a fight every week.”
“Lord knows what they’re going to be offended by,” he says. “It’s never like we think it’s going to be. Usually we just make it a lot worse and they’re all, ‘Oh, that’s better.’ Once they say ‘yes’ to something one time, our own show becomes the defense.”
Tosh.0, which returns for its third season on Jan. 11, has climbed in the ratings with each season and last summer surpassed media darling The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in total viewers. Producers are still going after the infamous Star Wars Kid for its popular Web Redemption segment, but they haven’t landed him yet. Tosh says he would “love to leave Comedy Central” (semi-jokingly) “but not anytime soon.”
“I’m not a good actor,” he says. “I can play myself and a much gayer version of myself. That’s my range.”
What do you think: Does Tosh’s humor go too far?