The untold truth of Daniel Tosh

There's a lot more to Daniel Tosh than a green screen and endless supply of internet videos that make folks want to laugh, cry, throw up, or a combo of all three. Sure, those are obviously big reasons why Comedy Central's completely unfiltered clip show host is more popular than ever at the age of 41, and his cringingly awesome show Tosh.0 has been around since 2009. But if you think that's all there is to the deliberately offensive stand-up comedian, then you're best served forging ahead, and finding out what's responsible for truly making Tosh tick.

Before making it big, he sold knives door-to-door

Most people change their majors at least once in the middle of their college careers, but not Tosh. He basically waited until after he was already done, graduating a half-semester early from the University of Central Florida with a degree in marketing, before deciding to become a comic instead. Well, first came a short stint as a telemarketer—which was surely as fulfilling as his other non-comic stint, going door-to-door selling knives—but still, it wasn't the life, or job, he wanted.

So Tosh gave stand-up comedy a try, got his big break on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2001, and landed his first Comedy Central special in 2007. The network gave him his own show two years later, and it's still going strong today. With nearly a decade of hindsight, it doesn't appear that marketing degree went to waste.

His dad was a minister

Of all the features Tosh could've gotten from his father—his nose, his eyes, or perhaps his spindly 6'3" frame—the one he certainly did not was his sense of humor, unless Tosh's pops was the world's most irreverent Presbyterian minister.

Born in Germany and growing up in Florida, Tosh was the subject of some pretty strict upraising, and didn't push many buttons as a result. It ultimately didn't last, and neither did his father's life as a minister. Papa Tosh eventually gave up the calling and, somewhat surprisingly, is one of his son's biggest supporters. Before the rise of Facebook, he happily managed Tosh's MySpace calendar. Actually, "happily" might be an understatement. According to Tosh, doing such tasks made his dad feel like a real "showbiz father." Now that he's no longer a father father … er, minister … maybe being a showbiz father can help fill the void.

He hosted an online poll over if he should kill himself

If you're 38 and either hate your job or aren't successful at it, you should probably quit and find something else. That's a notion Tosh took to heart, leaving a "Daniel's Groundhog Day" countdown on his website long before the creation of Tosh.0 to help decide whether he should stay in the business. The clock ticked down the seconds until his 38th birthday; if he'd made it as a comic by then, he'd keep going. If not, as he told SFGate, he said he'd either commit suicide or retire on the beach (hopefully the latter).

Luckily, he hit it big. By 2013, his bank account was reportedly swimming with 11 million buckaroos. When left up to fans on the Tosh.0 blog whether he'd indeed "made it" or should end his life, they overwhelmingly voted in favor of "huge star" over "kill yourself," 2,148,769-0. Sounds like a legit poll.

Many viral stars were nervous about the Web Redemption

Any fan of Tosh.0 probably loves the show's Web Redemption segment. In it, Tosh highlights someone who went viral by making a fool of themselves online and invites them to "redeem" themselves, usually by redoing (slightly more successfully) what made them look foolish. While he has little problem procuring subjects now, it proved far more difficult in the beginning.

In a 2010 interview with the Santa Barbara Independent, Tosh admitted that finding viral stars who were willing to be "redeemed" wasn't easy initially. As he put it, "Pretty often they were a little reluctant. They were more like, 'who are you and why do you want to do this exactly?'" By the time he conducted this interview, he was already finding it easier to convince people to appear on the show, and it had only been on the air for a year. Thankfully, he quickly gained a reputation as a good sport who won't humiliate people … too hard.

He had a late-night show in Florida called '10's'

Everyone has to start somewhere: in Tosh's case, he started his TV career in 1999, with a local late-night show in Florida called 10's. It's so obscure that very little footage, if any, exists on the internet. (The video above is just a funny clip from Tosh.0 — enjoy!) However, from what we know about it, 10's sounded pretty juvenile and crude, even for Daniel Tosh.

According to Donald Hansen, a technical operations coordinator for USA Broadcasting who worked on the show, 10's was focused on Tosh and his co-host, model/actress Jennifer Cole, walking around Miami and interviewing various beautiful models. Because it's Tosh, it's virtually a given he ridiculed many of them instead of actually interviewing them. The show only lasted a year before Cole left (Hansen claims she absolutely hated Tosh) to become the co-host of a show called Strip Poker. For his part, Tosh kept touring and working until Comedy Central gave him Tosh.0, where he has no co-host to get sick of his shenanigans.

He used to be a shaggy-haired spokesman for Taco Bell

If watching reruns of Tosh.O into the wee hours of the morning regularly makes you hungry for Taco Bell, there might be good reason. In between his big break and eventual swell of TV specials and stand-up tour dates, Tosh starred in a series of commercials shilling for the fast food chain responsible for introducing the world to the fourth meal. All three spots ran in 2002, and featured a shaggy-haired Tosh touting Taco Bell as a high-quality product for an insanely low price. One commercial took place in a fancy hotel, another on a private golf course, and another at a bank, all places—OK, maybe not the golf course—we can imagine Tosh now frequents on a daily basis.

Tosh's other live acting roles include MTV's Punk'd, where he broke into Mekhi Phifer's car, and the Mike Myers-led 2008 disaster The Love Guru, where he played a bargoer in a dumb cowboy hat whom Mike Myers busts in the face. Tosh claims he never actually watched the movie, and considering it won a Worst Picture Razzie, who can blame him?

He's a long-time pro wrestling fan

Tosh isn't just a pro wrestling fan; he's a long-time, knowledgeable one. When presenting the Web Redemption for a guy who lost his marbles at Sting's 2014 WWE debut, he talked about being a fan, admitting he prefers wrestling's theatrics to UFC, which he claimed was nothing but "a bunch of crossfitters who use their actual name." During the Redemption, he and Crazed Sting Fan built a ring that drew in the ghosts of deceased wrestlers, Field of Dreams-style, for a battle royale. Showcasing accurate depiction of wrestlers like Rick Rude and Andre the Giant showed Tosh actually cares about wrestling's past and paid attention to their appearances. Owen Hart's ghost plummeting onto Andre (a callback to Owen's actual death at a WWF event in 1999), plus Tosh dragging Ghost Miss Elizabeth behind the bushes, showed he'll apply pitch-black comedy to anything, even things he loves.

His fandom includes a running gag where he calls out legendary wrestler Arn Anderson for no apparent reason. He's seen in the Web Redemption reading Arn's autobiography, and during the "Tosh.0 Memorabilia Dump," Tosh insults him with an upside-down Four Horseman sign (a sign of disrespect to Arn's famous group from the '80s and '90s). He's even called him out on Twitter for allegedly having "sex stuff on the cloud." Sadly, Anderson has yet to respond, presumably because he's still unsure how to fight the noodly Tosh without actually mutilating him.

He made a $25,000 bet for a friend with a brain tumor

Feel free to call Tosh any name in the book, but maybe skip "heartless." In 2015, when friend and fellow comedian Andy Ritchie was diagnosed with a brain tumor, Tosh had no problem using his show to promote a GoFundMe page aimed at helping Ritchie cover his $250,000 in medical bills. The page quickly raised a little more than $45,000, but Tosh pulled in another $25,000 by auctioning off props from Tosh.0.

Like any sane person, Tosh obviously took that 25 grand and handed it straight over to Ritchie, right? Of course not! In true Tosh form, he actually took the whole five-figure amount and placed a double-or-nothing bet on New England to cover the first-half spread against the Miami Dolphins. While the bet might've sounded reckless, it was a good one. Tosh's favorite team never stood a chance against the Patriots, who cruised into halftime up 19-0, well over the 3.5-point spread. The gamble gave Tosh $50,000 to give to his friend, but that's where this tale takes a tragic turn. Ritchie lost his battle with cancer a month later on Thanksgiving. Perhaps the only silver lining is he died knowing he had pals like Tosh willing to help however possible, even if that meant resorting to the sports book.

He has a great idea involving Michael Richards and an all-black audience

Arguably the most satisfying part of every Tosh.0 episode is the Web Redemption segment, where the star of a humiliating viral video comes on the show to talk about what went awry their first time around, and then make up for it in gut-busting fashion.

The problem is, getting some of these viral "stars" on Tosh.0, or even just tracking them down, isn't always easy for the show's relatively small staff. Many have already moved past their flubs, and don't want to dredge up bitter memories. Others, like Michael Richards, simply decline no matter how many times Tosh begs and begs. Richards, best known for playing Kramer on Seinfeld and for his racially charged rant during a 2006 stand-up appearance, is Tosh's ultimate Web Redemption target. He'd love nothing more than to get Richards back at the Laugh Factory, but this time in front of an all-black audience. Really, though, wouldn't we all?

He refused to do a Reddit AMA in 2011

You'd think Daniel Tosh and Reddit would go together like peanut butter and chocolate, but apparently, he wants nothing to do with a website that's basically his show in text form. In 2011, Reddit invited Tosh to do an AMA ("Ask Me Anything"). Tosh, who values his privacy more than a hermit, clearly had no intention of being bombarded with silly questions from snarky redditors. So he had a Tosh.O staff member go on Reddit and share a picture of him holding up a white, timestamped sign that said, "Sorry Reddit, I don't want to do an AMA." Some parts of the web are beyond redemption, after all.

Reddit, true to form, responded by photoshopping his message in all sorts of unique ways. Because it's Reddit, many of these messages can't possibly be republished here. Some cleaner examples, however, include, "I'm actually working from an Ikea," "Dear Comedy Central, you call this a desk?" and an adorable child's drawing of a house and trees. Let's hope Tosh enjoyed the jokes … if he ever even visited the site.

He has serious beef with Rob Dyrdek

While Tosh is unrivaled atop the current clip show landscape, that doesn't mean he's without competition. Even with Tosh's show hitting its stride in 2011, Rob Dyrdek of Rob & Big fame decided to forge ahead with a similar but less-scripted concept on MTV called Ridiculousness.

Tosh hit Twitter to welcome Dyrdek to the clip show club, saying "congrats @robdyrdek. new show looks very funny & familiar." Dyrdek didn't take long to fire back, and thus began a serious beef war that reached its peak when Tosh used a skit on his show to mock his rival and paint Dyrdek as a pedophile. That was the last straw for Dyrdek, who said he'd be fine settling the score "the old-fashioned way." Tosh welcomed the fight with one caveat, tweeting "fair enough but if you have to beat me up, can we film it and put it on my show so people will actually watch it?"

Of course, both of them are just following behind people like Joel McHale on E!'s The Soup and the Saget/Bergeron runs of America's Funniest Home Videos. And the worm continues to eat itself.

His love life is one big mystery

When it comes to divulging personal information, Tosh is the master of deception, so it's no wonder he likes to keep people in the dark concerning the status of his love life. Even though he dated beautiful model Megan Abrigo at some point, that's basically all we know. Tosh simply doesn't like to tell people about his life, preferring instead to make things up. On that note, the internet is filled with speculation that Tosh is gay and, considering his frequent use of homoerotic humor, he's definitely done his part to fuel the fire. But then, in an interview with PaulDuane.com, Tosh came right out and said, "I am not gay," though to see his never-ending parade of "I'm gay" jokes, you'd be forgiven for thinking he was joking during the interview. Perhaps he was.

He also claimed in that interview he's not married, though he told the Twitterverse in 2014 that his marriage to a ballerina was the best part of his life. Adding to the intrigue, said ballerina — whom he's continued to drop vague tweets about, has no name. Knowing Tosh, she likely doesn't even exist. That's OK, though. It's more fun seeing everyone forever question what the guy does off-camera and who he does it with, anyway.

The Laugh Factory rape joke debacle

There's nothing off limits to this crude and, depending on who you ask, rude comedian. During a set at the Laugh Factory in 2012, Tosh was supposedly saying that rape is always funny when a female audience member loudly opined that was anything but the case. Tosh allegedly retorted "Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now? Like right now?" and it didn't go over very well with the woman. Like, at all.

Her friend went home, posted her account of the exchange on Tumblr, and it landed Tosh in extremely hot water. The club owner later refuted the woman's full version of the back-and-forth, saying Tosh wasn't nearly as demonstrative as initially reported. Either way, he wound up apologizing on Twitter and followed up with another tweet about how "there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them." He capped off with the hashtag #deadbabies, just to prove he's incapable of being softened up.

He's used the show to raise awareness about some iffy stuff

If something's too dark and disturbing even for Daniel Tosh, there's almost certainly something wrong with it. Take SevenSuperGirls, a YouTube channel Tosh featured on his show in June 2017. Dismissing his usual jovial snark, Tosh seems totally disgusted by what he sees.

Each video features under-18 girls in scenarios like failing at gymnastics, eating whipped cream, sunbathing, and getting duct-taped to the bed. As Tosh exclaimed, "I may have stumbled across something dark here. … Anyone who watches these videos needs to put some pants on and turn themselves into the FBI." Tosh directly accuses "chomos" (prison slang for "child molestors") of watching these videos (which have over 12 billion combined views), even filming a To Catch a Predator-style skit where a fan (an actor) attended a supposed meet-and-greet with the girls. Naturally, the fan is an adult male, toting completely innocent items like duct tape, chloroform, condoms, and two tickets to Mexico.

While nothing on SevenSuperGirls seems to be technically illegal, clearly Tosh (and websites like Free Thought Project) are convinced it's a dark, creepy corner of the web that benefits nobody and harms the innocent. Shortly after the Tosh.O episode aired, SevenSuperGirls posted a video saying it was "taking a break from YouTube." Considering they'd been releasing videos every day up to that point, a sudden vacation after being called out by one of the world's most popular comedians seems awfully convenient. But that "hiatus" video was later deleted and the channel resumed its publishing schedule. Maybe it needs more attention from Tosh? Maybe there's nothing to see here. Only time will tell.

His first act was at an open mic … for jazz musicians

Everybody has to start somewhere. In Tosh's case, his career telling jokes in front of an audience began … in front of an audience, telling jokes. Except unlike today, the audience wasn't there to see him or anybody making jokes, really.

That first time he went on stage to yuk the crowd, Tosh thought he'd hit an open-mic joint. In reality, he'd stumbled upon an open competition for jazz musicians. Tosh being Tosh, he still took the stage and told his jokes. His reception, however, was lukewarm at best. Not only was he sent out first, but his material on Shaquille O'Neal's, um, endowment was met with literal rim-shots. Years later, Tosh is getting the last laugh, and he tends to be received in any way but lukewarm.

He isn't a fan of Nick Saban

Knowing how seriously Alabamians take their college football, it might not be the wisest idea to constantly take cracks at the beloved coach of one of the best teams in the country. Good luck telling that to Tosh. Over the years, he's gone out of his way to poke fun at the Crimson Tide's insanely intense leader, Nick Saban. In Tosh's defense, he has his reasons. For one, Saban swiftly left Tosh's beloved NFL Dolphins to take the Alabama job after saying he wouldn't just two weeks earlier. Alabamians were likely thrilled when Tosh asked viewers to donate money in the wake of devastating tornadoes that tore through the state in April 2011. But how did they feel when he then jokingly claimed that "apparently, God hates Nick Saban more than I do"? Not so hot. They immediately rushed to the comments section of AL.com, the state's biggest media outlet, to voice their displeasure.

If there's one thing you learn living in Alabama, it's that you worship at a college football stadium on Saturday and then you worship at an actual church on Sunday. Considering Tosh's affinity for dissing Saban, it's probably best he steer clear of either place of worship in Tuscaloosa until he changes his tune. And since Tosh will probably never change his tune, Alabamee clearly ain't the place for him to be.