Daniel Tosh

Daniel Tosh

Daniel Dwight Tosh was born in Boppard, Rhineland-Palatinate, in what was then West Germany, where his Presbyterian minister father was doing missionary work. Three years later, the family returned to the U.S., settling in Titusville, FL, adjacent the U.S. Air Force/NASA space complex, Cape Canaveral. He developed a streak of irreverence in juxtaposition to his stern father's attempts to keep tight reins on the household, which included three siblings, as well as a coastal Florida environment he grew to regard as a cultural wasteland. He attended Titusville's Astronaut High School, graduating in 1993, whereupon he matriculated at the University of Central Florida in nearby Orlando, where he studied business. It was there that Tosh began dabbling in stand-up during open-mic nights at the local comedy clubs. Graduating from UCF in 1996 with a degree in marketing, he did a stint working for a telemarketing firm in Orlando and wet his feet in television by hosting a local show in which he interviewed people on the beach and poked fun at them. Relocating to the entertainment mecca of Los Angeles, Tosh hit the comedy club circuit, resulting in a coveted spot in the Montreal "Just for Laughs" festival in its "New Faces" line-up. In 2001, Tosh landed his first national television appearance on CBS' late-night showcase, "The Late Show with David Letterman" (1993-2015). He appeared as a stereotypical slacker in a 2002 Taco Bell commercial, but for the most part, Tosh stuck to stand-up, gestating a niche in college markets, owing to his too-cool-for-the-cool-kids act in which he giddily deconstructed the social conventions of relationships, America's class divide, and its fetishistic consumerism and celebrity-worship. He continued to earn spots on standard TV venues for stand-up such as "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (ABC, 2003-) and Comedy Central's "Premium Blend" (1997-2006) showcase; the latter beginning a relationship with the comedy cable network that in 2003 landed him an episode of its "Comedy Central Presents" (1998-) stand-up series. In 2004, he did a short, unhappy stint as a series regular on VH1's topical pop-culture post-up show, "Best Week Ever" (2004-09) and won his first spot on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (1993-2014), starting what would become an annual appearance on the program. In 2007, Tosh graduated from comedy clubs to the theater circuit, one show of which Comedy Central would film for Tosh's first stand-up special on the network, "Completely Serious" (2007), along with a companion CD and DVD released on the channel's imprint. While he eschewed the typical pattern of riding comedy into the acting game, the year 2008 did see Tosh turn up in a couple of roles, including a guest shot on HBO's animated sitcom "The Life & Times of Tim" (2008-12) and a small supporting role in the notorious Mike Myers bomb "The Love Guru," which earned Tosh a laurel from the Razzie Awards, which annually roasts the worst of Hollywood. Tosh later insisted he had never seen the film.In 2009, Comedy Central came to Tosh with an outline for a show based on the snowballing personal-media phenomenon, seeking an anchor for a weekly compendium of the more outrageous clips on YouTube and other digital media outlets, which were enabling everyday people to garner their proverbial 15 minutes. Tosh created "Tosh.0," a low-budget, green-screen show operating on a similar platform as had E! Entertainment's successful "The Soup" (2004-15) - a host playing off projected video clips. Culling from the Internet a menagerie of rednecks, webcasting lunatics, clueless frat boys, teens and other vidiots, Tosh found ample fodder for his gleefully mean-spirited riffs, often showing people harming themselves in ridiculous stunts for the camera. If his darker wit offended some by invoking stereotypes about women, Southerners, minorities and alternative lifestyles, he seemed to offset it with his boyish smirk and, moreover, his willingness to occasionally humiliate himself in context of his "Web Redemptions," weekly segments in which he interacted with people who have semi-famously embarrassed themselves on YouTube. It all proved a winning formula, with the show initially attracting a million-plus viewers an episode in its first season and gaining a word-of-mouth buzz that by summer 2010, bolstered the show's draw to 2.2 million viewers per episode. These numbers often overshadowed Comedy Central's flagship news shows, "The Daily Show" (1996-) and "The Colbert Report" (2005-15). The success of "Tosh.0" accelerated Tosh's live draw, and Comedy Central cross-promoted a 60-city theater tour in fall 2010, with another special, "Happy Thoughts," premiering on the network in March 2011.