Daniel Tosh can't explain his Comedy Central success

Daniel Tosh
is best known for his sharp tongue and quick wit on the Comedy Central hit 'Tosh.0.' Think it's easy doing the show? Well, yes, it is.

Daniel Tosh is best known for his sharp tongue and quick wit on the Comedy Central hit 'Tosh.0.' Think it's easy doing the show? Well, yes, it is.

'Tosh.0'

  • What: Returning with new episodes
  • When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
  • Where: Comedy Central

PASADENA, Calif. - Despite having one of Comedy Central's most popular programs with the Internet-mocking clip show "Tosh.0," Daniel Tosh can't pinpoint his appeal.

"I really don't know," the 35-year-old star said recently in a very rare brush with a reporter. "It's ridiculous. I wish I knew."

Certainly "Tosh.0," which returns with new episodes Tuesday, isn't radically different. "The Soup" and "Fashion Police," both on E!, also look at popular culture with tongues firmly placed in cheeks. But all three shows have one thing in common - quick-witted hosts with rapid-fire delivery. "The Soup" has Joel McHale and "Fashion Police" features Joan Rivers. Tosh was a relatively unknown comic until "Tosh.0" premiered in 2009.

Now the son of a Florida-based minister is hot as a comedy touring act, mainly from his college-age following.

Very little is known about his private life, though he did tell one reporter he was "very single" without elaborating. According to Wikipedia, he was born in Germany but raised in Titusville, Fla. He said in a radio interview once he has social anxiety.

After graduating college, he started touring as a stand-up comic and appeared as one of the New Faces of Comedy at the 1998 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. In 2001, he landed a spot on "Late Night with David Letterman," which also led to appearances on Jimmy Kimmel's and Jay Leno's late-night talk shows. Soon Comedy Central had him hosting its stand-up programs before signing him for his own series. In the brief time "Tosh.0" has been on the air, the series has managed to garner, at times, a bigger audience than "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," the two signature shows for Comedy Central.

"Tosh.0" grabs the latest viral videos and subjects them to Tosh's tart tongue. The genius of each installment has Tosh and his writers looking over clips found by the show's researchers, who consider hundreds of clips in a week.

Then the jokes begin.

"We sift through (the videos) pretty quick. If it works for us, if it's short, quick, funny, then we start writing jokes about it," Tosh said of the process of making each week's show.

Comedy Central censors have to approve of what's being said, though the list of what the cable channel won't approve is short.

"They don't like making fun of children," Tosh said. "Handicaps are tough to get around. Women getting hit is a tough subject. You know, your standard. But the other things fly by."

Instead of merely making fun of the clips, Tosh also has as guests the people appearing in them. If the clip is particularly embarrassing for the guest, Tosh will offer them a shot at "redemption" by letting them re-create the clip.

"We're certainly not holding back. We kind of say what we want to say," Tosh told reporters recently. "We wanted to push it. We realize that ... the format had been tried a couple dozen times and failed before. And I think that was just our idea: push it as far as you can and see what happens."

Kent Alterman, the head of original programming and production for Comedy Central, said Tosh's take is a major reason why the show connects.

"A lot of people misunderstand this show and why it catches on with people," Alterman said, "and they think it's all about the videos and what's on the Internet.

"But you could take could take this same exact source material and have 10 different people use it, and it would be 10 different shows, and this one would be up here where it is."

Underneath his sarcasm, you get the idea that Tosh doesn't really want to be particularly mean.

"I don't know why I get away with some things," he said, "but I'm not a misogynistic, racist person. Yet I do find those jokes funny, so I say them.

"And I try to say everything kind of in a good spirit."

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