Completely Serious, a DVD of Daniel Tosh’s October 2006 special, is undoubtedly funny, but will most likely leave many viewers confused and a little offended between their giggles.  At first Tosh is offensive due to his apparent arrogance.  The first thing he says after coming on stage is, “Thank you, Thank you.  I deserve that.  I’m really good.”  If you’re going to tell people you’re really good, they’re going to believe you, and when you perform just decently, they’re going to be a little disappointed.

It’s easy to see that Tosh is an intelligent comedian, and, like many contemporary comics, deeply in touch with the popular culture that surrounds him.  His references to pop culture, however, often come as only mildly related one-liners near the ends of long jokes, leaving most of the audience giving no more than a confused sympathy clap.  These muddled narratives are then used as springboards into Tosh’s favorite subject, the nature of his own jokes.  He quips repeatedly about how his jokes initially amuse everybody, but that he likes to continue them until only six people actually understand what he’s talking about.  Occasionally this is funny, like the Daylight Savings Time joke, which involves waking up at noon, picking up a pterodactyl at a bar, and picking out new outlet covers at Target.  By the end of the joke only one person is laughing, and this meager response is almost more amusing than the joke itself.  In spite of this confusion, I found myself often admiring Tosh’s imagination, equal parts intelligent and innocent, making for humorous vignettes about how his WWJD? bracelet turned into a serpent, which Tosh and friend left behind because it looked “slimy.”  In cases like this, Tosh’s appeal comes mainly from the ambiguous charm of somebody who clearly thinks that he’s hilarious.

Tosh is at his best when his jokes stick to social commentary.  He probably doesn’t want to be known as a political comedian, but it is a strength he should exploit.  Comedy is the perfect vehicle for pointing out human hypocrisy and inequality, and Tosh’s commentary will likely leave you a little uncomfortable, but hopefully more enlightened.  His jokes about the racism following Hurricane Katrina, or Tosh’s own privileges as an upper-middle class white male make you laugh and question your own naïveté.

One of the real gems of the DVD is the deleted scenes.  They were cut from the feature for continuity, but it is in these scenes that Tosh lets his arrogant persona slide off, and he deals with the audience like one half of a good conversation.  There are also several post-show audience interviews, which provide hilarious flashbacks to scenes from the show that were also cut.  His goofy banter with the cameramen, his strange armpit sweat solution, and his commanding authority over two drunk men in the front row make the DVD more enjoyable, and allow a second viewing of the feature set to be ingested with a grain of salt.  Once you realize he’s not as cocky as he pretends to be, Tosh becomes much more likable, and makes Completely Serious not just a decent one-time show, but a good watch that will allow most people to shed their discomfort and laugh the way Tosh hoped they would.

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