Friday, January 9, 2015

Women just aren't as funny as men.

Here's me attempting to be funny and failing miserably, because I have a vagina.
Also because I was really drunk at the time.
Ugh.  I cannot tell you how many times I've heard this, mostly because I can't count very high.  And I can't really prove anyone wrong who says this, because my particular breed of cynical sarcasm will only make a select few laugh.  But all anyone has to do is watch a clip of Tina Fey mocking Sarah Palin or watch any of Nora Ephron's films to see that humor isn't something limited solely to the Y chromosome.

Still, a disgustingly high number of people still seem to believe that women, by nature, will just never be as funny as men.  And if a girl is as funny (or funnier!) than a man, she's going to die alone.  Yup, that's right: research shows that straight men find funny women a turn off.  Men (no, not all men, I've met a great many exceptions) like it when a woman can appreciate his good joke with hearty laughter, but he feels threatened when she upstages him with an even better joke of her own.

As if that weren't depressing enough, on my daily read-through of feminazi man-killer site Jezebel, I came across this article called "Hey, Men: I'm Funnier Than You."

To be fair, this was not the most well-written piece I've ever seen (by a long shot). In short, it was about how there have been several studies done by psychologists that prove, once and for all, that men are funnier than women.  Science, people!  Perhaps the same sort of science that proved, back in the day, that women are just naturally better at washing dishes than men.  These studies are never wrong, is my point.

Anyway, one trollish commenter in particular really made me say, "What a misogynistic asshole who has no idea he's a misogynistic asshole" to myself out loud.

Here's the comment:
And then here's his follow-up to another person's comment:
So in true dignified, man-hater fashion, I wrote a pretty heated "fuck you" comment in reply, but JEZEBEL WOULDN'T LET ME POST IT.  Must have been because it was too good for all those other losers on the Internet.

Ha, well joke's on you, because my blog publishes anything.  So here's what I wrote in response:

"But I'm not drawing conclusions so much as pointing out that you can't just assume that men and women are equally 'innately funny' and therefore all differences in our comedic talents is due to socialization."

And I'm pointing out that you cannot assume that genitalia makes someone innately funnier than someone else either. 
Not only would that be a ridiculous claim because of the fact that humor is highly subjective and differs widely across cultures, but a good sense of humor has everything to do with personality, not genitalia.  Having a penis doesn't automatically make you more outgoing, observant, or socialized than having a vagina does.  The only thing having a penis does is provide you more opportunity to assert yourself in public without getting told off for speaking out of turn or for being overtly crude for your sex.  
I think that's why a lot more humorous women stuck to writing back in the day (once women were given the right to publish, which is a rather new phenomenon, keep in mind): because they could publish under a pen name or work behind the scenes and not get in trouble for it.  Then people like Dorothy Parker came into the limelight.  And then there was Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore.  Slowly and surely more comediennes came out doing routines instead of sticking to the written word.  And these comediennes came out of the woods because it became socially acceptable to be a funny female, not because they ascribed to a more "masculine" sense of humor.  We owe an incredible amount of debt to these great pioneers of comedy. 
​Anyway, so now we're seeing more comediennes doing stand up and it's going to make people feel uncomfortable because it's new and different.  But in another hundred years it will be so normal that we'll look back and shake our heads at this whole debate, just like we have with giving women the right to vote.
I also think it's worth mentioning that people prefer characters they can identify with.  I prefer The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo slightly more than The Boondock Saints because I identify better with a female protagonist.  Stories with an all-male cast don't interest me nearly as much because I don't easily identify with any of the characters.  Which doesn't mean that Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is any better of a film than Boondock Saints.  They're both excellent.  But I simply don't identify with any of the characters in Boondock Saints.  I do identify with Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander, though, because she understands fighting to be heard in a male-dominated world.
In much the same vein, I assume a movie like Bridesmaids doesn't have as much mass appeal to a straight male audience because there aren't many characters in that film a straight male could easily identify with.  There are, however, plenty of characters a straight white male could identify with in The Hangover, for example.  I've seen both films, and I got a lot more laughs out of Bridesmaids than I did The Hangover.  I didn't even bother watching Hangover 2 (or 3?  are there three now?). I just didn't find the franchise all that funny.
So here's a conundrum: a group of an equal number of females and males are watching both these films.  The females laugh more at Bridesmaids.  The males laugh more at The Hangover.  Which film is innately funnier?  Who gets to decide?  Why?

Contrary to how all this might sound, I'm not trying to say girls are naturally going to find girl comics funnier and guys are naturally going to find guy comics funnier. I'm just saying I'm not at all surprised when guys do find guy comics funnier, simply because they identify with the male experience more, which is completely fair.  
This isn't going to be across the board, of course.  For instance, I loved Borat.  A guy who thinks there are shape shifting Jews who can turn into cockroaches?  I laugh every time I think of that scene.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail is in my top 10 list of favorite films of all time.  Stephen Colbert is one of the funniest men on Earth.  But I would much rather watch 30 Rock than South Park, and I have a couple of guy friends who feel the same.  I find 30 Rock to be funnier because of its drier wit.  Not that I don't find South Park funny, because I do, but I find 30 Rock funnier.  This doesn't mean that it's innately better, but that it is simply my preferred humor.  Your preferred style might be more in-your-face slapstick.  Good for you.  Just because your preference is for slapstick doesn't prove it's funnier.  It just proves it's funnier to you.
Tl;dr: Females being allowed to be in the comedy world is a new phenomenon and some people don't realize they're still uncomfortable with it, so they try to prove that their discomfort is based in some scientific proof.  Just like anything else (marriage equality, women's suffrage, civil rights), people will come around and realize that women and men are in fact equals, in comedy as in anything else.  It's just going to take awhile for people to be ok with that, and some people will never come around.  There's always got to be at least one jackass in every group.


The end.  Good.  I feel better getting that off my chest.  Your thoughts on the matter are greatly appreciated as well.  Feel free to comment below.