Daniel Tosh: The Clip King

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
July 21 2010 12:10 PM

Daniel Tosh: The Clip King

Remember Caitlin Upton? Most people will forever think of her as the Miss Teen USA Pageant contestant with the completely nonsensical explanation for why one-fifth of Americans can't locate the United States on a world map. (Her answer included this incoherent phrase: "Like, such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere, like such as ...") But I think of her more sympathetically, as the girl who was funny on Tosh.0 .


Last June, almost two years after the incident , Daniel Tosh brought Upton on Tosh.0 , the show he hosts on Comedy Central, for a " Web Redemption ." The comic and the beauty queen walk down the street wearing matching teal evening gowns .


"I was just having an outer body experience," Upton says, describing her moment of infamy. "It happens to everybody."

Tosh, who delights in acting like a prick, responds, "Except, for yours, 50 million people have watched."

Then, at the end of the segment, Tosh plays the role of pageant host and re-asks Upton the question that once stumped her. Upton's answer (watch the video embedded below to hear it) is ridiculous, but this time she's in on the joke. So Tosh, overtly a prick, is also a white knight, offering Internet victims two things: a) a shot at catharsis and b) a chance to be remembered for something more than an embarrassing mistake.

The redeemer deserves some ink. Comedy Central original programming head Kent Alterman recently told the Hollywood Reporter that "[Tosh] hasn't been written about that much." Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide , and the  A.V. Club have all briefly praised Tosh.0 , but I haven't found a lengthy profile of its host. That's rather strange: Since its summer season premiered in June, Tosh.0 's ratings are up . The show is averaging 2.2 million viewers and a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 , beating The Daily Show and The Colbert Report over the same cycle.

Again, what's special about Tosh is that he actually engages his victims, like the guy who wanted the world to leave Britney Spears alone. Last week, Tosh had on the kid who infamously freaked out after his mother cancelled his World of Warcraft account. The " Web Investigation " was supposed to help determine whether the hissy fit was real. Even after Police Academy 's Michael Winslow showed up, findings were inconclusive. But I digress. The point is that Tosh makes it feel less cruel to laugh at Web victims, because you're laughing with them. This is also what separates Tosh.0 from other clip shows. As much as I like The Soup , host Joel McHale won't be having Kate Gosselin for a "Reality Show Redemption" anytime soon.

Tosh.0 may seem pointless to someone who's, say, older than 30—the lanky Tosh is 35 but looks 25—but the format has staying power. Comedy Central has already renewed Tosh.0 for a third season .  A year ago, The A.V. Club's Noel Murray suggested giving both Tosh.0 and competitor Web Soup a try, but argued that "neither are essential." I disagree. So long as people make fools of themselves on the Web, we need Tosh to redeem them.

Alan Siegel is a writer in Washington, D.C. You can reach him at asiegel05@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter.



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