Last night, during a live broadcast of the WWE's Monday Night Raw, one of the wrestlers' managers (or, rather, an actor who plays the manager of an actorathlete who professionally wrestles) compared his charge to "Kobe Bryant in a Colorado hotel room... unstoppable," a tacky, stupid joke that was followed almost instantaneously by an apology by both the teller of the joke and the WWE. Are we witnessing positive social fallout from the Daniel Tosh fiasco?
Abraham Washington, the manager who made the unfortunate blurt, has apologized profusely to the public and his bosses and promised to never make a joke like that again, and the WWE organization has said they're taking appropriate action, issuing their own apology for what they're calling an "inappropriate" comment. Immediate apologies? Recognition that a Kobe Bryant rape joke is fucked up? Admission of guilt and promise to do better in the future? Professional wrestling is now more sophisticated and sensitive about discussing rape than the Laugh Factory.
Let this be a lesson to all pumped up wannabe comics out there who see Daniel Tosh and his clones in action and think: hey, I can do that, too! I can have people laugh uproariously at my cutting edge genius by just saying random shit about rape! Auto-humor! — you can't. At least, not any more. Because everyone who thinks that shit is funny is already watching those shows, and everyone who isn't watching those shows has no interest in the sort of humor that got Daniel Tosh in trouble. The market is saturated; it cannot support any more inanity. Ham-fisted rape jokes have become the Groupon of comedy. We are in the midst of a poorly executed rape joke glut! If rape jokes were a stock, they'd be on my Strong Sell list.
As my coworker Lindy has eloquently explained shortly after the Tosh incident, it's possible to make a funny rape joke. People do it all the time — but it takes skill. And fashioning Kobe Bryant's nearly-decade-old rape accusation into a joke that doesn't make a person want to set themselves on fire would be tough for even a skilled, seasoned comedian to pull off. Louis CK himself might pull a muscle trying to do it. In the meaty hands of Washington, the material didn't stand a chance, and in the post-Tosh freakout world, the public has no patience for it.