Daniel Tosh is one mean S.O.B. He is sexist, racist and just about every other kind of -ist you can think of. Of course, this is intended as high praise since I also consider him one very funny S.O.B. (sorry Daniel's mom...last time I promise).
Although he has been actively working as a stand-up comic for more than a decade, Tosh's public profile received a major boost after he started hosting Tosh.0 on Comedy Central in 2009. For those who have never seen it, Tosh.0 is essentially America's Funniest Home Videos for the internet age. In it, Tosh showcases numerous video clips that have gone viral online. If that were all there was to it, the show would soon turn into background noise. What keeps it lively and unpredictable is Tosh himself. His running commentary on the clips is often mean-spirited and always hilarious. With a mixture of faux vanity and blithe dismissal, he proves to be the ultimate conduit for guilt-free laughter at the expense of others.
It should come as no surprise but the Daniel Tosh you see in Happy Thoughts is very much the same guy you've seen on Tosh.0. His comedic persona is fully formed, so why fix it if it ain't broke? Tosh practices a brand of humor that could deeply embarrass (even enrage) somebody who isn't prepared for it. There are no sacred cows in his world. Everything and everyone is a target meant to be taken down with extreme prejudice and a boatload of snark. If you don't believe me, just listen to him talk about the time that he pranked his sister by replacing her pepper spray with silly string. Sure, she got raped but boy, he got her good. Some will laugh at that (I admit, I did) and some will groan. Even the ones who found that funny are simply being set up. Later in the set, Tosh crosses another unseen line of common decency and goads laughter out of his audience by reminding them that they've already demonstrated they have no real standards.
If Tosh's willingness to antagonize his audience makes him daring, his delivery makes him sneaky and smart. Over the course of an hour, he machine-guns punchlines at the crowd while hiding behind a sly smile that says he knows better but chooses to indulge his baser instincts. If illumination through deep, dark satire is Tosh's goal then he hits the mark more often than not. If I've made him sound too cerebral or meta, I've done him a disservice. For every incredibly sexist or racist joke that indirectly highlights the plight of women and minorities, he's got a few zingers about flat-ironing his ball hair and screwing imaginary celebrity babies. As I said, the man is not shy...at all.
While I didn't notice any major dead spots in Tosh's act, it is worth noting that folks who like comedians with overarching themes will have a tough time here. He would rather overwhelm you with a mountain of quick hits than take time to cultivate stories with longer setups. With that said, he isn't afraid of following certain jokes past their natural punchlines to the point where their appeal becomes increasingly esoteric. None of these aspects of his act really bothered me but I could see it driving others up the wall.
Tosh's smirking satire isn't for everyone but if you can set aside all that is good and kind about yourself for just an hour, you will find enough belly laughs here to make up for the all-consuming shame that will surely follow.
The show was presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. For some reason, the stage design made me think of a hospital waiting room designed with input from the engineers at Apple. It was minimalist to the max with bright whites and soothing blues. Fortunately this calm backdrop provided excellent contrast for Tosh as he roamed the stage. Besides being free of any obvious defects, the image was sharp enough with excellent shadow detail.
The audio was presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. Given the nature of the material, there isn't much to say about this mix. Tosh came through loud and clear with the audience making their presence felt at appropriate moments during the show. There's no greater feeling than joining in a collective groan from the comfort of your living room. No subtitles were available.
Given that the main feature is just about an hour long, this release features a generous slate of extras. An Encore (11:26) segment features Tosh trotting out a few jokes that were either half-formed or more experimental in nature. At some point, he even breaks away from the stage and takes his comedy right into the audience. For a man whose entire act is based around clockwork timing, it's nice to see him make a few human flubs. Needless to say, he even finds a way to make them funny.
Next up, A Day in the Life (8:52) takes us behind the scenes as Tosh guides us through the filming of an episode of Tosh.0. This segment is lighter on laughs but should satisfy the curiosity of anyone who has wondered how the green screen based show comes together. As an added bonus, fans of the band Slipknot can catch singer Corey Taylor having a shocking experience with Tosh (literally: he gets shocked).
A pleasant addition gives us the Opening Acts by Jasper Redd (10:38) and Matt Fulchiron (9:54). While both comics scored a few laughs, Redd struck more of a chord with me. His extended riff on fast food had me grinning all the way through the first few minutes of Fulchiron's set. With that said, Fulchiron did delight with his rap song entitled Straight Outta Nordstrom's which takes a special set of...um...skills. Also included on this release is the Comedy Central Aired Version of Tosh's special.
Daniel Tosh is an incredibly smart comedian who gets a great deal of mileage out of a carefully cultivated veneer of willful obnoxiousness. He plays at being an equal opportunity offender so that everyone can discover their own comedic limits in the process. Happy Thoughts is a perfectly fine example of Tosh doing what he does best: pushing buttons and extracting laughs from unexpected places. Highly Recommended.