Last weekend, the Great American Rape Joke Debate finally hit Portland. It's been a long-boiling controversy in the comedy world: Who can joke about rape and when? These questions have also raged in Portland's comedy scene, most recently in a Mercury blog post by comic Barbara Holm, who called out a male comic who had taunted her from stage at an open-mic night. The rape-joke debate may or may not be mentioned from stage at this weekend's all-female comedy festival All Jane No Dick, but we wouldn't be surprised if it's what's being discussed at the bar. Here's a primer on its recent history.
July 6, 2012: When an audience member at Hollywood's Laugh Factory tells professional fraternity pledge Daniel Tosh that rape jokes are never funny, Tosh replies that it would be hilarious if she were gang-raped right there, in the club. Twitter explodes. (Never mind that Tosh has been making rape jokes for years, including one in which he describes date rape as "the politest rape of all.")
July 10, 2012: Comedian Louis C.K. tweets at Tosh: "@danieltosh your show makes me laugh every time I watch it. And you have pretty eyes." Turns out C.K. had been on vacation in Vermont and didn't know about the rape-joke dustup when he wrote that tweet. On The Daily Show, C.K. describes how the Twitter furor increased his sensitivity to rape culture and argues that sometimes joking about bad things can make the world just a little bit better.