Should Christians Love Daniel Tosh?

Posted: November 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Last night, 3 of my buddies from Revolution Church and I went to Cincinnati to see Daniel Tosh in concert.  If you don’t know who that is, he is a stand-up comic who has been around since the 1990’s but hit it big a few years ago thanks to a Comedy Central special and his own show Tosh.0, which is kind of The Soup for Youtube.

To say that Tosh’s comedy is snarky is like saying that Lady GaGa is “colorful.”  Tosh’s humor is unabashedly offensive.  He strives to outrage people.  He presses every hot button issue–religion, abortion, the death penalty, sexual assault…you name it. 

Most audiences howl with laughter while recoiling in shame at the same time. 

It is easy to see why Tosh is so popular–he looks harmless and “next-door-ish” while rattling off witty but inappropriate one-liners, which is paradoxical and liberating in a uber-politically correct society.  I like his stuff and my wife and I watch his show every week…but should we?

I believe the subject matter and even tone of a presentation can have an impact on us.

  For example, I have taught English classes where I begin by talking about how much I dig the movie Heat and how right Dane Cook was that every dude really wants to be a part of a heist gone bad and has to sprint down a crowded street while shouting and popping off rounds from a machine gun. 

I then tell them the story of a homicide case I assisted with as a law student and how a man was sentenced to death for 2 murders he didn’t commit.  By the end of the 2nd story, you can hear a pin drop in the classroom.  I then ask them to notice the difference in the how they feel hearing me talk about Heat and how they feel hearing about a real murder case.  In sum, subject matter and tone matter.  They impact the way we think and feel.

So, it follows that Daniel Tosh’s snarky comments about inappropriate subjects affects the audience but is that always a bad thing?

Certainly,  a diet of only Tosh.0, Ugly Americans, South Park, etc. could negatively impact a person’s attitude, especially in a culture that has become so cynical that we are cynical about our cynicism. 

Yet, there is a positive psychological angle to vicariously engaging in non-P.C. speak.  Historically, when society places hard limits on speech then things tend to boil under that lid until it pops.  Many Christians and non-Christians flock to Tosh because he is “authentic” in that he says things many think but don’t feel free to say.

Now, a conservative Christian would object that we shouldn’t say the things Tosh says, in fact, we shouldn’t even think about these things and, in a perfect, sinless world they would be right but on this side of paradise? I don’t think it’s going to happen. 

I’m not arguing that Tosh is moral but he is honest and as a pastor I can deal with honesty…it’s the smiling, religious people who suppress until they pop that present a real problem.

Also, if we are trained by our churches to truly study culture and it’s impact on us then we may be able to watch and listen to certain things (as long they don’t truly tempt us to sin) and come to a deeper understanding of who we are and what we need to work on.

So, I think it is possible for a Christian to at least enjoy Tosh while critically and prayerfully reflecting on it. Then again, maybe I’m just self-justifying because Tosh is funny.

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