The comedic device of being ‘unapologetically politically incorrect’ – which seems so fresh to those operating under the pretense of saying-what-no-one-else-has-the-courage-to-say despite only broaching topics that already enjoy a public consensus (see Carlos Mencia) or those that seek to distinguish themselves from the endless line of equally banal talent waiting in the wings by appearing quirky and off-color while offering nothing of interest beyond that (see Sarah Silverman) – ultimately proves hollow if the device alone is the act. Anyone can be marketed as outrageous or cutting edge but if that marketing is not backed up by material, it all falls apart.
Enter Daniel Tosh. He takes the stage for his stand-up DVD Completely Serious with a smug, irreverent air. At first glance you might feel the urge to write him off, to dismiss him along with the myriad hacks Comedy Central has attempted to force down our throats over the years. However, if you listen to his act you’ll notice a very important difference: He’s actually telling jokes rather than relying on an affected “edginess” followed by self-congratulatory musings on how he’s the only person alive with the balls to say things like, “Butt sex is a lot like spinach, if you’re forced to have it as a child, you won’t enjoy it as an adult.” (He does say this, just without the musing…)
Tosh’s act is unpretentious and often hilarious. He can reel off a three-paragraph joke and add on a seemingly unrelated story before tying it together all the while commenting on the progression of the bit – and somehow managing to appear both pompous and self-deprecating at the same time. He easily interacts with the audience making them feel at once comfortable and off balance before he darts in a new direction spurred on by a sudden non sequitur. More times than not, even if you think you know where he’s going, you’ll be surprised.
For those new to Tosh, the Completely Serious DVD makes for an excellent introduction. Even those who caught the special when it originally aired on Comedy Central earlier this summer will find the DVD superior as it is uncensored, contains deleted scenes and audience interviews all of which allow the comic to make a more in-depth and impressive impression.