Why you should care
Because if you’re not laughing with us, we’re laughing at you.
The best thing about laughter is the involuntary nature of it. Sure, to smooth the skids of social interaction you’ll chuckle, snigger or chortle at a friend’s poorly placed attempt at humor, but a real laugh? It’s coming from deep inside you whether you like it or not, and those that can engender it usually earn a special place in our hearts. Bill Cosby without the jokes? Just another alleged date rapist. Bill Cosby with the jokes? Still not in jail.
But humor can be dangerous, specifically the kind of comedy delivered by people who could literally tear the limbs off your body (i.e., mixed martial arts fighters). And it’s into this breach that Tommy Toe Hold, an expletive-spewing and fight-lusting cartoon badass, jumped in 2012.
The former English teacher’s scabrous sports comedy is filled with sly winks and nods to stuff way beyond the usual purview of MMA.
“MMA’s been a passion of mine since high school,” says Hold (maybe Toe Hold, or maybe just Tommy?), a 32-year-old Midwesterner. “And I really wanted to get involved in the sport in some way. So ‘Tommy’ was my way in.” With 799 episodes in the can, Tommy Toe Hold’s stuff has had more than 10 million YouTube views and brags a healthy 90,000 subscribers for the kind of organic, cult “in” that smells like nothing if not breakthrough.
With each episode taking anywhere from three to 20 hours to finish depending on all the moving parts, having that time paid for would be better than not. But paid or not — Tommy is now sponsored by DraftKings and getting wider syndication — what started as a labor of love benefits from having been a passion project. Because you can’t fake the funk when it comes to cartoons about fighters, cyborgs, bad horror movies and wicked imitations of athletes from Floyd Mayweather to Conor McGregor to Ronda Rousey.
So wicked that the fact that Tommy Toe Hold refuses to reveal his real name seems to be a partly strategic move connected to not getting his ass kicked. Even if that’s not why he does it. “Nobody outside [of] a handful of people know my name or have seen who I am,” Tommy tells OZY. He originally kept his identity a secret due to concerns that the cursing would be a problem for his education career, he explains, “but now it’s just sort of a fun mystery that I like to maintain.” Indeed, the former English teacher’s scabrous sports comedy is filled with sly winks and nods to stuff way beyond the usual purview of MMA.
Which, when you’re dealing with people who are anger professionals, could still get dicey with lawyers, agents, coaches and other free radicals on the hunt for the wiseguy. A contention that Tommy puts to bed. “The only fighter that I can think of who was not so happy with my work was Tito Ortiz,” he says, referring to the head of Team Punishment. “But I try to keep the level of respect for what they do as high as possible while still having a bit of fun with the sport, and I think they recognize that respect.”
Not at all why the show is worth watching. Speaking truth to this kind of power? That is why the show is worth watching.
Tommy explains his crippling addiction to ass-kicking (NSFW):