If you’ve ever watched an episode of Tosh.0 and wondered, “Who are those people laughing in the background?” wonder no more—it’s me! I recently did some hard-hitting, in-the-trenches research when a friend invited me to tour the Tosh.0 offices and watch a live taping of the show. Here's what I learned about Comedy Central's most popular program.
Tosh.0 is taped in a nondescript brick building just outside of Los Angeles. When I arrived, fans were already lined up to wait for their seats in the audience; I was whisked inside and given a brief tour of the editing bay, the kitchen, and the several communal spaces that make up their offices. It’s an open, comfy environment that's often shown in the pre-recorded sketches wherein host Daniel Tosh terrorizes his staff, although none of that was happening during my visit. I did get to sit in the writers' room for a bit, where I surveyed the random contents#151;two-foot-tall, gold-painted angels; toys for Tosh's dog; a top-of-the-line men’s shaver sent as a gift—and generally listened in. The writers seemed relaxed and in high spirits as they sat at their huge table chatting about last-minute things, all amidst walls plastered in Post-It notes; every YouTube video that has ever been uploaded seems to be scrawled on one of the sticky little buggers, which are organized according to recurring segments like “Web Redemption” and “20 Seconds.” The searching literally never ends—someone, somewhere, is making a fool of himself on camera.
Just before the taping is scheduled to start, I am ushered onto the set. As you’ve probably guessed, the backdrop is completely fake (fun fact: the palm trees shown on screen actually move!), and the show itself is filmed against a huge green screen. It’s an intimate taping, with maybe 40 seats and four TV screens—the one that you see on the show plus three more that allow audience members to watch the videos up close.
Tosh comes out quickly and gives the audience a quick rundown of the taping, but only after teasing a kid in the front for wearing old school pump sneakers. He tells us that they'll mostly likely do the entire show twice, and begs us to laugh each time as if we’ve never heard any of the bits. Then he cracks a joke, and when someone groans in mock disgust, he grins and warns us all that it’s only going to get more brutal from there. He is right.
The show begins, and Tosh seems to be at his most comfortable introducing each cringetastic clip. He makes far filthier jokes between takes, and what I loved is that, despite all the falling down, groin shots, and drunken buffoonery, Tosh clearly takes the show very seriously. For one clip, he consults a couple of notes and then does take after take, riffing until he finds the most gasp-worthy line. We know he is finally satisfied when he flashes his adorably evil grin at the audience. After a very long clip that involves Tosh rubbing oil onto Carrot Top, he tells us all about Carrot Top’s amazing house and how the original footage of the rubdown must have been about 45 minutes long. “I mean, if you’re going to drive all the way out there, you better get as much footage as you can,” he deadpans.
At the end of the taping, which lasts about two hours, Tosh thanks everyone very graciously for sitting through the show twice, but the crowd is clearly not put out at all. Everyone is pumped, especially when Tosh hands out some posters to a girl in the crowd and asks her to distribute them as she sees fit. He hangs around the set for at least 15 minutes, meeting fans and posing for pictures until everyone is satisfied, and when I finally get to shake his hand, he thanks me sincerely for coming out. Beneath his wiseass, too-cool exterior, it seems like he’s a hard-working dude who is genuinely excited and grateful for his show’s success. Each taping ends with a pizza party for Tosh and his staff, and everyone goes home happy.
If you live near Culver City, CA and want to experience the Tosh.0 audience for yourself, click here to reserve tickets—they’re free but they go fast!
Tosh.0 airs Wednesday nights at 10:30pm on Comedy Central.