“If you’ve never seen me perform before, I’m not good live,” announced Daniel Tosh at the beginning of his show at the State Theater on Saturday night. What an opening line. Of course, this was also the first and last time that he would make fun of himself during the performance. With so many other worthy recipients of ridicule waiting to be victimized, he began by warning the audience that “offending people happens” and apologized up-front for the inevitably over-the-line nature of his show. That being said, he still managed to throw some people — or everyone, atually — for a loop.
Taking the stage after a mildly amusing opening routine from Los Angeles comedian Matt Fulchiron, Tosh was greeted by thunderous applause from the crowd. He wasted no time in supplying some token Ithaca bashing, transitioning from a crack about the Ithaca weather to a Hurricane Ike joke that drew a collective groan. This would pretty much set the tone for the rest of the show, as Tosh tackled nearly everything remotely sensitive or controversial and essentially spitt in its face as if to say, “Really? Did you really not see that coming?” (And he actually did that say in reference to a bunch of angry parents who complained when Tosh gave a high school commencement speech and spoke about the future felons and D.U.I. victims among the graduating class.)
Like any good comedian performing in the heat of a highly contested presidential election, Tosh brought his fair share of political jokes to the table. Between his bit about McCain’s secret plan to “line up the Vietnamese!” and a theory that Bernie Mac was Obama’s original running mate (another groaner), Tosh made sure to leave no stone unturned. “I’d love to be Barack Obama right now and get to debate John McCain,” he announced. “OMFG! Is this a joke? Are you really gonna run?” And no political stand-up routine would be complete without a crack at American’s favorite new goat (is a female goat still called a goat?). The Sarah Palin jokes came in bunches, with a modest helping of teen pregnancy bashings and capped off by the (literal) mother of all politically-incorrect statements: “I may vote for McCain…if Sarah Palin will just show us her tits!”
His political material was certainly one of the highlights of the evening, but — not to worry — he spent plenty of time making fun of everything and everyone else too. As far as specific groups of people are concerned, probably one of his favorite targets was the poor. Introducing this segment with a very blunt “I hate the poor,” he fantasized about a charity he called “Febreezing the homeless” and rationalized it by asking, “Who would you rather give money to: The guy who smells like garbage or the guy who smells like lavender?” He also expressed his undying hatred for Nebraska, describing everyone who lives there as fat enough to stay on the ground during a tornado and “like the family in Gilbert Grape … but poorer.”
The rest of his material covered everything from swearing in church to the illegitimate child of David Beckham and Brad Pitt. (“Picture Jesus but with better abs.”) He made fun of several current events and issues: He wondered, for instance, if Michael Phelps should be eligible for the Special Olympics because of his underbite, and reflected on the steroid scandal in baseball. (“Forget Barry Bonds … Babe Ruth deserves the asterisk. He played before black people were even allowed.”) He drew even more groans with the line about finding Heath Ledger’s suicide note (“10 Things I Hate About Me”) and got a mixed reaction by commenting that, since Boston sports fans finally have winning teams, everyone could stop feeling sorry for them and hate them for being racists with horrible accents. But Tosh’s biggest laughs came from one-liners, such as: “Being an ugly woman is like being a man … You’re gonna have to work”; and the crowd-favorite, “I hope you get dick cancer,” referring to a joke about always ending conversations saying something profound, just in case the person dies soon after.
By the end of the night, Tosh had the audience laughing at everything that came out of his mouth, regardless of how offensively or obnoxiously he presented it. He wrapped up with a much-anticipated Lance Armstrong joke, and encouraged people to check him out on YouTube or illegally download his stand-up if they didn’t feel like buying the DVD. Upon leaving the stage, he was saluted with another huge applause and made his way to the lobby, where he took pictures and signed autographs as promised. Maybe it’s my automatic admiration for funny people named Daniel, or maybe it’s just his raw talent and flare for making people laugh themselves silly. Regardless, he’s definitely one of the funniest new comedians, and certainly one of my favorites. If you’ve never heard of Daniel Tosh, or if you missed his performance last Saturday, do yourself a favor and check him out. But, to steal a line from the man himself, this article is “like a Snapple … what you do with the facts is up to you.”