Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts
Studio: Comedy Central / Paramount
US Rating: Unrated
Film Length: 58 Minutes
Video: Color / 1.78:1 – Enhanced for Widescreen Televisions
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
DVD Release Date: March 8, 2011
DVD Review Data: February 28, 2011
“I’m aware I could end the joke at the good part….I choose not to”
Perhaps it is just me, but all stand-up comedians at some point during their act will be compared to the greatest stand-up comedian (according to me) of all time – Bill Hicks. Hicks was a giant of dark social satire and social-political comedy whose routines are, among those with a love for great stand-up, the stuff of legend. His mix of common sense, absurdly profane mockery, and tearing lack of concern whether the audience ‘got’ what he was saying – and even dismissing and admonishing the most foolish among them – launched him to the realm of the extraordinary, alongside the likes of Prior, Bruce and a select few others.
Daniel Tosh has promise. His ability to walk on stage, present himself immediately as a clean-cut and kind looking fella, only to surprise and shock an audience by saying some incredibly risqué and ‘line-crossing’ jokes is genuinely refreshing. He is a far cry from the legends of comedy, but there is something about his unrestrained commentary, likeable smirk when he’s shocked the crowd, and confidence, that gives hope that he could evolve to dig deeper in his routines that moderate-level social commentary and pop-culture deconstruction.
The Show: 4 out of 5
Star of Comedy Central’s snarky, but cleverly entertaining show Tosh.0, which mines internet video for social commentary humor, Daniel Tosh stars in his second comedy special, Happy Thoughts, in which his repertoire involves mockery of Michael Phelps, Hurricane Katrina, Gay marriage, and The Mighty Ducks ‘alternate ending’, among other topics. The special, which runs shy of an hour, is a moderately paced exercise in twisted and very funny humor.
Filmed at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the stage is light, bright, ultra-clean – a cleverly established ‘safe’ framework against which Tosh will launch his routine of outlandish ideas presented as de facto common sense notions. His routine is predicated on his clean-cut image being at odds with the comments he makes, and his disregard for playing it safe provides for plenty of laughs.
Precious little is safe from his unfiltered commentary, for example, glancing off the topic of politics, he remarks at the absurdity of being able to speak ill of the founding fathers, summarizing that:
“They were a bunch of racist F*#@ing pigs with a handful of good ideas”.
And following a bit of how illegal immigrants should be forced to perform jury duty all the time so that it really would be “a jury of their peers”, he quickly follows with a joke that anyone would want to have sex with the love-child offspring of David Beckham and Brad Pitt. Clearly nothing is off limits or unsayable.
His self-referencing, self-deprecation, and meta-conscience give the needed acknowledgement that as rude and outrageous as his jokes often are, it is mockery and not a statement of belief. He is playing a role on stage, though much of what he provides is clearly mixed with some genuine opinion. It is similar to how Family Guy or South Park will say and do ultra-offensive things but only as a means to comment on those people in the world that think and feel with such narrow, prejudicial perspectives.
Throughout the special, Tosh dances with the audience’s willingness to be okay laughing at what he says. On the High School commencement speech he (apparently) gave, he had these uplifting works for the graduating class:
“Some here are felons. Some of you will die in a DUI accident TONIGHT”.
Defending his “dose of reality”, he states – and this is more of the common sense being used provide reason enough to say things most of us often think:
“Nobody’s been a pile of S*#T their whole life and then turned it around because [of] the commencement address”.
Like the great Bill Hicks, Tosh will keep up with his routine even when the audience reaction wobbles. Belly laughs for some jokes become cautious and restrained when the joke appears to test the independently drawn lines for ‘good taste’. And like the best of them, Tosh will comfortably retort “hang in there, it gets worse”.
The smirk is his tell; his silent admission that his outrageousness is designed to point out the flaws in society and how we are politically correct in some of the oddest and silliest ways. It works.
The Video: 3.5 out of 5
Presented in what appears to be 1.78:1 and enhanced for widescreen televisions, the image quality for this DVD is relatively good. The light blue and white of the stage is clean, detail is average, and there are no issues to speak of.
The Sound: 3 out of 5
With a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, Daniel Tosh’s Happy Thoughts won’t surprise you, but will ably deliver the jokes and happy crowd reactions in the front and center channels without issue. Some non-directional sound can be found in the surrounds, mainly of ambient crown noise.
The Extras: 3.5 out of 5
Comedy Central Aired Version: As you might expect, a TV-safe version of the special that aired on Comedy Central on March 6, 2011.
Encore (11:26): This encore is more of a collection of unused jokes and has Tosh being more interactive with his audience, but is edited (based on the transition fades during the run time). This is more raw and unpolished – interestingly so – and appears off-the-cuff at times.
A Day in the Life (8:52): A look at a day in the life of Daniel Tosh from his Tosh.0 show filming. Well worth the 10 minutes to view.
Warm Up Comedians: Jasper Redd (10:37) and Matt Fulchiron (9:54) provide mildly entertaining warm-ups for Daniel Tosh.
This type of comedy won’t work for everyone. Daniel Tosh can easily cut deep with his comedy. But his routine uses the comedy of dark snarky lament, sarcasm, and an often unflinching jab at the lines of commonly held decency and prudence, punching through and lavishing in the “oohs” and guilty laughs that result. It’s great to watch. Bill Maher currently has a good hold on this form of comedy, albeit with a distinctly more social and political commentary bent, but Daniel Tosh is a comedian happy to walk, flaunt, and demonstrate that the line for what is funny is considerably further afield than most are willing to explore.
Overall 4 out of 5