If you were alive in the ‘90s, you may find something eerily familiar about “Tosh.0,” the California-based internet clip show now in its third season on Comedy Central. Funny home movies shown to a live studio audience by a host who seems wholesome if you don’t look too closely? If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “I’ve seen this somewhere before.” In 1990, Bob Saget became the face of a show that encouraged laughing at crackpot escapades caught on tape, ABC’s longest-running comedy series, “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Tosh.0, which airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m., is “AFHV”’s nastier, trashier, Twitter-literate younger brother.
Host Daniel Tosh even has all of Saget’s height, wit and self-flagellating gooberishness. While Saget sat in a studio made to look like an American living room, Tosh introduces clips in front of the internet artist’s canvas—the green screen. Saget wore suits; Tosh lets viewers vote on his wardrobe—hoodies, then casual jackets and now deep v-neck T-shirts. Postage and a VHS tape were once required to show America Ruffles the Cat on roller skates; all you need to send footage of yourself smoking Smarties to “Tosh.0″ is an internet connection.
Tosh.0’s writing is clever and at times offensive, but often in an equal opportunity, ironic way. Tosh’s mocking can draw attention to some blatant ignorance. Like in a recent installment of the recurring feature “Is it Racist?”: Tosh rebukes an Alabama gubernatorial candidate who, in a television ad, demands all citizens of his state learn to speak English.
Tosh will mangle himself for a laugh. He’s chugged a jug of milk for the purpose of puking it up, and made a game of surprise trust-falling into unsuspecting strangers, after which he dared viewers to copy and upload the results. In the 30-second “Extreme Salvia Challenge,” Tosh swallows cinnamon, eats Saltine crackers and attempts to karate chop 100 coconuts after taking a hit of salvia, an action which gets masked by an animated icon like so many f-bombs on “American Idol.” Tosh is so boyish and charming that he gets away with what few others could.
The show’s crown jewel may well be the “Web Redemption,” a feature that plucks someone from viral video infamy and puts that person on the show to relive the embarrassment, with the hope of getting it right this time. Like not falling off the coffee table while singing in heels, or slam-dunking the basket rather than the bushes. Or if you’re Miss Teen South Carolina, learning what a map is and what it does.
Sure, the humor can veer into the bodily fluid territory. Many clip montages seem lowbrow but still beg the question: Why do so many people film themselves doing these things in the first place? See: “Asians Doing Christopher Walken Impressions” or “Above Average Girls Making Animal Noises.” (Seriously, Google those.)
But whether Tosh makes you laugh or makes you angry, his show does what few others have managed and that’s meld television and the internet like never before. He’s brought a laptop-addicted contingent back to television, while sending sworn TV heads online. At last count, Tosh.0 had 50,000 Facebook fans and nearly 300, 000 Twitter followers. And he’s made an incredibly low-budget television show by cribbing most of his content from the interwebs. Pretty brilliant if you ask me.
Now Tosh, if you’ll please invite Saget on your show to be redeemed for, well, everything.