10 Comics to Watch

Who: Observational comedians tend to obsess about distinguishing themselves onstage. Tosh prefers to lie.

His rapid-fire, cocky cadence covers a random smattering of self-deprecating tall tales — i.e. the joys of living in denial, the childhood imaginary friend who ignored him or his racist tendencies after falling asleep to the Country Music Channel.

As “Tonight Show” talent exec Ross Mark points out, “If Daniel does a bit on airlines, it’s not about going through security or airline food; it’s a joke you’d never expect to hear coming out of a comedian’s mouth.”

“I like to write jokes and I don’t care how I get to my punchline. I just prefer to make everything up,” Tosh explains. “I don’t buy the rule of thumb, ‘It’s funny because it’s true.’ I find that’s a cop-out for a comedian who is too lazy to write anything that’s made up.”

(It’s thus appropriate that Tosh’s Comedy Central album, released last November, is titled “True Stories I Made Up.”)

The son of a preacher and a graduate of the Central Florida U. in Orlando, Tosh began working open mikes a decade ago when he was 19.

He eventually brought himself to the industry’s attention in the New Faces section of the 1998 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal — a place where his four years of French comes into good use when he’s telling anal sex jokes to the locals, or so Tosh boasts.

Since then, Tosh’s schedule has grown to 350 shows annually, four “Tonight Show” appearances since 2004, plus a slew of other latenight appearances and other stints, including VH1’s “The Best Week Ever.”

“Daniel has his own style — that’s what makes him a great comedian,” says Bob Read, another “Tonight Show” talent exec. “You can say he’s an observationist as well as an impressionist since he takes on voices, but you can’t label it. He’s fresh.”

What’s going on: He has a Comedy Central special planned. “Then it’s all about building my Dogster account,” he says. “It’s like a MySpace for dogs. Dane Cook’s dog has 5 million friends. My dog can’t compete with Dane’s.”

Take (sarcastically): I’ve been doing (comedy) for a while and I’ve never once been wrong. I’d plead with network executives to trust me and write me checks. I could understand that I made a few mistakes, but everything I’ve accomplished has been comedy gold.”

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