After coming under fire for making a female audience member the subject of a gang rape joke during his standup comedy routine, Comedian Daniel Tosh says he's sorry.
“All the out of context misquotes aside, I’d like to sincerely apologize,” comedian Tosh tweeted to his 6,139,000 followers. "The point I was making before I was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them."
On Friday, while performing his standup set at L.A.’s famed “Laugh Factory,” Tosh made statements about rape jokes always being funny, E! News reports
"Rape jokes are never funny!” yelled a female audience member, who anonymously blogged about the incident in a Tumblr post entitled “A Girl Walks into a Comedy Club.”
ABC news reports that her comment sparked Tosh to comment about the audience member herself:
“Then, he says, 'Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…' and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing I needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.”
Katherine Hull, a spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) was not amused.
“When will this 'funny man' realize that rape jokes aren’t funny? By suggesting that an audience member deserved to be gang raped, Tosh took his shtick to a new low. Applause is due to the woman who had the guts to vocalize what many in room were thinking,” she told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column.
Laugh Factory owner seems to side with Tosh
However, “Laugh Factory” owner Jamie Masada, who was reportedly present during the set, told E! News that "Daniel Tosh did not attack this young lady."
And although he feels "bad" for her, he does have some extra advice: "If you are a member of the audience and you start dishing out something to a comic and try to be funny, you better be able to take it," he said.
Masada also remembers the situation a little differently, telling Buzzfeed that Tosh asked the audience what they wanted to talk about, and one viewer piped up “rape,” Fox news reports.
“Daniel came in, and he said, ‘Well it sounds like she’s been raped by five guys’ – something like that. I didn’t really hear properly,” Masada said, adding that the female audience member who said he left in fact stayed for the duration of the set, and did not complain to management until after the show had wrapped.
And the refund?
According to the post, the two women were not refunded for the cost of their tickets, but instead provided with a pair of free tickets to come back and see another show at the famous Los Angeles comedy club,
"I can imagine the Laugh Factory doesn't really have a policy in place for what happens when a woman has to leave in a hurry because the person onstage is hurling violent words about sexual abuse at her," the woman said on the blog.
But Masada told E! that the woman was offered a full refund -- but just didn't take it. She chose to take two complimentary tickets to the club instead.
"Comedians sometimes tell jokes and sometimes they can be off color. I think Daniel Tosh is one of the funniest comics alive. He is one of the most caring people I know. He had no intentions of hurting anyone," Masada said.
Nothing funny about it
But according to Ashley-Michelle Arnold, a site administrator of the non-profit message board After Silence, a collective chat space for rape and abuse survivors, none of that matters.
“When your punch line comes from a horrific experience, there's nothing funny about it. Right now, defenders are spinning it that the woman wasn't really offended, as if that somehow makes it OK because she was the subject, after all. However, it doesn't work like that; humor that trivializes what is one of the most horrific experiences a human being can inflict another doesn't get a green pass simply because the intended target didn't gratify Tosh's disgusting punch line,” she told Fox. “Comedy should be used to entertain people, and to educate them. Jokes that turn violence into a caricature do neither and, in fact, contribute to the stigma which blame survivors for being victimized and downplay how severely it can impact a life.”