Are Women Funny?
September 25, 2015 12:32 PM   Subscribe

"For men, it is a tragedy that the two things they prize the most—women and humor—should be so antithetical," wrote Christopher Hitchens in a 2007 Vanity Fair article. But the evidence against this view mounts. This year, for example, the three finalists for the Thurber Prize for American Humor are all women, guaranteeing that a woman wins the award for the first time.

The finalists include Julie Schumacher, for her novel "Dear Committee Members," written entirely in letters of recommendation from a cantankerous, old professor; actress Annabelle Gurwitch, for her essays on aging, "I See You Made an Effort," and long-time New Yorker cartoonist, Roz Chast, for her memoir, "Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?"
posted by touchstone033 (63 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh. An exception to Betteridge's Law.
posted by Etrigan at 12:34 PM on September 25, 2015 [23 favorites]


Men: Prize wide-open.
posted by clavdivs at 12:42 PM on September 25, 2015


When I think 'funny people', the first ones who pop into my mind are Sarah Silverman and Tina Fey... and Key and Peele, I guess. I don't really get the 'women aren't funny' thing.
posted by Huck500 at 12:44 PM on September 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


best humor happens when you can be irreverent and unmindful of consequences.

Guess how, in general, irreverent women are viewed? If there is a constant pressure to think of what someone else would say, how someone else would view you, how you should behave, its tough to be funny.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 12:44 PM on September 25, 2015 [22 favorites]


this is good Thurber Prize but I don't see any Mallory Ortbergs on your list, what's up with that
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:46 PM on September 25, 2015 [25 favorites]


But when I got to 2015 I was astonished how funny women had gotten in eight years.
posted by GuyZero at 12:50 PM on September 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Amy Schumer's satirical but observational humor is fucking genius.
posted by Talez at 12:50 PM on September 25, 2015 [19 favorites]


evidence against this view

actually, the view you quoted said that such separation is a tragedy, which your post seems to confirm.
posted by andrewcooke at 12:51 PM on September 25, 2015


Roz Chast is a national treasure.
posted by holborne at 12:53 PM on September 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


[Cheeky Hitchens-quote framing notwithstanding, this'd probably be a lot better off as a discussion about the cited nominated authors and works than as a discussion of Hitch or the nominal question in the title.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:54 PM on September 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


Hitchens had zero sense of humour.
posted by colie at 12:58 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


(It's actually Annabelle Gurwitch, not Gurwith.)
posted by holborne at 12:58 PM on September 25, 2015


Thank you, cortex, for saving me from that temptation.
posted by howfar at 12:58 PM on September 25, 2015


[Gurwitched!]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:59 PM on September 25, 2015


Maybe we could get Tony Blair or Donald Rumsfeld in to judge next time?
posted by Artw at 1:08 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember loving the heck out of Annabelle Gurwitch even back when she was the cohost of TBS's Dinner and a Movie, so seeing her making good with the Thurber folks warms my heart.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:16 PM on September 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Roz Chast's memoir made me cry until I laughed. It also inspired me to have (another) good talk with my parents about the subject of their impending doom; IMHO the best comedy is humor that impacts your world view so I hope she wins.

(Also I totally stole her death rattle line when my parents were all "Let's talk about something else." I threw up my arms and shrieked, "You're not going to take to your bed and die in each other's arms after your simultaneous death rattles, you know!" My mom snapped back, "Well, we're not rattlesnakes basking on the highway in the sun, either!")
posted by barchan at 1:38 PM on September 25, 2015 [16 favorites]


This "Gurwitch Project" isn't scary at all--ITS FUNNY! Haha, just haveing some fun with the names. Anyway give me the prize.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:42 PM on September 25, 2015


At one point, in a two-season span, SNL had Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. During this same time, Cindy Caponera, Erin Maroney, Lori Nasso and Paula Pell were in the writer's room.

That's not just funny women. That's Murderer's Row.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:42 PM on September 25, 2015 [26 favorites]


How about "women, as the self appointed arbiters of humor, seem somewhat hypocritical in their anger at your laughter".*

* There is a lot wrong with this sentence, mostly that the period belongs inside the quote marks, but I just can't.
posted by poe at 2:06 PM on September 25, 2015


Speaking of SNL, there's a pretty good book, Saturday Night, about the early years of SNL (it's not the more familiar oral history; it only covers the show from the beginning to right about when Lorne Michaels came back in the late eighties) that addresses this. The late and much-venerated Michael O'Donoghue was of the opinion that women weren't funny; one of the female writers on the show (Anne Beatts, maybe?) responded that the bar for getting a sketch from a female writer was set much higher than that for a sketch from a male writer--she compared it to the voting tests under Jim Crow, in that a female writer had to be able to say when the Edict of Nantes was revoked, whereas the male writer had to spell "cat".
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:11 PM on September 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


Needs fewer rage-inducing Christopher Hitchens mentions.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:24 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The semi-finalists include Garrison Keillor, Avi Steinberg, and Aaron Thier. For the curious. (Not easy to track them down - if the Thurber site has them, I missed it. I'd be curious to see who didn't make even that cut.)
posted by IndigoJones at 2:31 PM on September 25, 2015


Needs more counterpoints-to-Hitchens-mentions that mention Maria Bamford.
posted by mmoncur at 2:35 PM on September 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't really get the 'women aren't funny' thing.

It's a bullshit thing, but it's a thing that has been believed by so many people that it's an unfortunate (hopefully relict) cliche. I'm surprised to see how many of the winners of the Mark Twain Prize have been women, tbh, and that's only 5 out of 18.
posted by psoas at 2:38 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Women are funny. Women tell amazing jokes. Women see absurdity and comment on it in very amusing ways. Women can be better clowns than men, even.

Also, if you can watch Aisha Tyler's stand-up special and tell me that women are not funny, you are dead inside.
posted by daq at 2:52 PM on September 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Women are funny. Women tell amazing jokes. Women see absurdity and comment on it in very amusing ways. Women can be better clowns than men, even.

I've gone to a bunch of stand up shows recently featuring up and coming local comics, including one that was a stand up comedy school class graduation, and I don't know, based on the material presented by the men and women, how anyone could think a man is naturally funnier or whatever those jackasses say makes women unfunny. The material most of the guys perform is usually so predictable: their farts, their penises, their "bitch" ex-wives/girlfriends, how all women are dumb, how all women are golddiggers, why won't women on Tinder just realize Wise up to the fact that men just want them to come over and blow them and leave Amirite they're so dumb, only their dogs really love them, they hate women, why won't dumb girls with big racks let them have sex with them, etc. it's invariably crude, mean, and even though those kinds of humor are supposedly legitimate comedy sub-genres (I guess misogyny might be one based on some of the shitty shows I've seen), there's just fewer guys who try to be different. And maybe it's just how they start out. And I hope that's the case, because it really just saddens me. but there are plenty of famous stand ups who do that kind of thing.

But I honestly feel like I can count on the women stand ups to do something interesting. the women write and perform material that covers a variety of topics and that vary greatly. Jobs, kids, books, tv shows that aren't just game of thrones, people they've dated (nothing mean usually), clothes, weight, exercise, food, friends---they're funny without resorting to meanness (though some do but not the whole routine). They aren't all perfect at it yet but it's clear they've worked on it and put in an effort to differentiate themselves. And their jokes are more sophisticated, interesting, and fresh.
posted by discopolo at 3:15 PM on September 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


[oh crap. when i made my comment above i was just going by the quote. i had not read that essay.... sorry.]
posted by andrewcooke at 3:24 PM on September 25, 2015


Roz Chast's nominated work is #3 on this week's NYT Bestseller list for Hardcover Graphic Books, where debuting at #1 is the Awesome Kate Beaton's Step Aside Pops. Her humor just keeps getting sharper (I consider "Awesome" to now just be part of her name) - a shoo-in for at least a nomination next year. In fact, 5 of the 10 books on that list are by women, including my personal recommendation: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua, a fine mix of Beaton-like Historical whimsy, Steampunk fun and obsessive footnoting about the "grandmother and grandfather of computing". Meanwhile, the Paperback Graphic Books list is almost a fully-owned subsidiary of Raina Telgemeier, with only one item on the list (the latest Walking Dead) being an all-male enterprise.

As a lifelong lover of the Capital-F-Funnies, I long felt that there was so much potential for women's humor beyond the Cathy Guisewite. And the Webcomics Movement has brought out so many of them, starting with Beaton, including Padua and far more than I have the time to link to here.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:35 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I watch and listen to a lot of British comedy news shows like Mock the Week and the News Quiz. Sandi Toksvig is the first person to come to mind when I think funny person, she never disappoints. It is interesting, though, because if you go back to the earliest Have I Got News For You or Mock the Week it was pretty rare for them to have a female on the panel, now there is nearly always at least one, sometimes two. And I agree with discopolo that female comics don't make rape jokes or penis jokes or lazy jokes that people at home see coming a mile away.

Women are funny but you have to listen to them and not just zone out or stare at their boobs or think about how hot they might be in bed.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:41 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've heard people say that when men talk about how they like women with a sense of humor, they mean they like women who laugh at their jokes, not ones who tell their own jokes.

Anyway, it's hard for me to even tell if man humor is funny, because it's all been gone over and over so many times.

People without penises know all about the weird boners and peeing mishaps and things like that, because people with penises talk about those things constantly. And women know all the man observations pretty well, including things like urinal etiquette and "bro codes" and things like that, because men talk about them constantly.

There are lots of funny men out there. About half of the funniest people I can think of are men. They're just not funny when they're repeating the same gender-based jokes over and over.

Women, though, are maybe having more of a day right now because they haven't had that same voice, so even basic observational humor about gender can be pretty fresh. But it seems to me that women's humor is often more innovative and transgressive in some ways than traditional comic formats.

Listen to Bill Burr here getting really angry about alt-comedy. Most of the people he's talking about are probably men, but listen to the way he describes the difference between traditional stand up comics and alt-comics. It's very explicitly gendered. He's deeply threatened by a style of comedy that he doesn't understand and that he characterizes as vaguely female.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:11 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Women aren't funny? Seriously?

Lucille Ball
Gracie Allen
Carol Burnett
Mary Tylor Moore
Audrey Meadows
Joan Davis
Lily Tomlin
Joan Rivers
Erma Bombeck

I'm putting "women are starting to be recognized as funny" in the same basket as "Women are starting to come into their own as SF&F writers." Both attitudes come from the same source.
posted by happyroach at 5:23 PM on September 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Slap Shot was written by Nancy Dowd. That's a woman beating men at their own funny.
posted by grounded at 5:54 PM on September 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


Margaret Dumont
posted by persona au gratin at 6:09 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


About half of the funniest people I can think of are men.

Funny how that works.
posted by atoxyl at 7:56 PM on September 25, 2015


Listen to Bill Burr here getting really angry about alt-comedy. Most of the people he's talking about are probably men, but listen to the way he describes the difference between traditional stand up comics and alt-comics. It's very explicitly gendered. He's deeply threatened by a style of comedy that he doesn't understand and that he characterizes as vaguely female.


I'm not sure I even know what "alt-comedy" means but this whole thing of comedians trying to be all macho about how tough their occupation is - is there anything more insufferable?
posted by atoxyl at 8:03 PM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


It is interesting, though, because if you go back to the earliest Have I Got News For You or Mock the Week it was pretty rare for them to have a female on the panel, now there is nearly always at least one, sometimes two

this was a purposeful decision to resolve a bias that wasn't resolving itself - don't do too much googling on it if you still want to love a lot of the funniest men on those shows because they are wrong, wrong, wrong about this issue.
posted by nadawi at 11:23 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. If you want to argue that the Hitchens article about why women aren't funny isn't actually arguing women aren't funny, you need to have that fight elsewhere.]
posted by taz (staff) at 11:35 PM on September 25, 2015


The Hitchens article is speaking of studies like this, that men do not care if women are funny or not.

To which my response is if you don't laugh at my hilarious jokes what is the point of you even existing? Because clearly you are a terrible failure at life and a waste of resources and perhaps you had better just leave.

More seriously, if you do not think I am funny you either don't respect me enough to listen to me or you aren't smart enough to understand me. You know what, just... just go. Go back to your no doubt bookless hovel, you tragic person.


The late and much-venerated Michael O'Donoghue was of the opinion that women weren't funny

That this was said by someone who was anywhere in the vicinity of Gilda Radner both enrages and confounds me.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:30 AM on September 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm tired hearing this and am not going to start listing funny women to argue it. I've been hearing that women aren't funny since I was a little girl and I'm a grown-assed woman and I'm still hearing it. Never 'I don't find women funny', always 'women aren't funny'. Isn't the difference in expression interesting?
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:02 AM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think some of this is in play.

It certainly sounds like the people who tend to say "women aren't funny" usually point to one woman comedian they don't find funny and then generalize it from there, and those that are are treated as exceptions--and yet, when you point out that Dane Cook, Dennis Miller, Larry the Cable Guy, Carrot Top, Jeff Dunham and so on aren't even remotely amusing so it follows that "men aren't funny", all of a sudden, you're the asshole.
posted by qcubed at 6:53 AM on September 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


If there is a constant pressure to think of what someone else would say, how someone else would view you, how you should behave, its tough to be funny

The evidence is against this. This is like a well-reasoned argument for why flight is impossible, made from inside a plane. Let's not look to make excuses for women's incapacity when we're not actually incapable and never were.

(I wouldn't even say that it's tough but women heroically do it anyway; it's easy: oppression gives you unhappiness and unhappiness wishes to be relieved by jokes; oppression makes you pay attention for your own safety and attention catalyzes wit; oppression also gives you bitterness and bitterness provides you with a wide array of suitable targets. And when you know men aren't really listening, you can say almost anything. What is somewhat close to being true is that oppressed groups usually develop a way of joking over the heads of their targets, so you get the popular idea that women's humor is somehow gentler and less cruel than men's. I would say that this perception is a great comedic achievement, the female meta-joke, if you will.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:56 AM on September 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


(NOT to suggest that women can somehow only be clever about sexism, or by joking about men. just that within the specific context of oppression's effect on humor, the effects go the other way.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:03 AM on September 26, 2015


I'm not crazy about Jo Brand and rarely find her funny. Unfortunately, there are so few females choosing to work in stand-up comedy that makes her stand out as an example of an unfunny woman. It's the same old shtick-- women in an under-represented field have to be standard-bearers for their entire sex. There are what...500? male comics working out there today so if 50 of them aren't funny that means 450 of them are. There are probably under 50 females so one or two bad ones really stand out.

One reason why it is so easy to overlook the funny women of the past is because they were so often doing material about being women in a certain time, space and social strata and often this doesn't translate well in later years. I remember being convulsed by Erma Bombeck in the late 60's because she was talking about being a suburban stay-at home-mom when this was still a relatively new situation. Now a lot of her material comes across as quaint or stale. Rosanne Barr also did absolutely fresh and hilarious material in her early days. She was the first to describe the uterus as a location device ""Honey, where are my glasses?' 'Well let me just turn this on. Beep.. beep...' " and she did it in such a sarcastic way with her Midwest accent that it had me rolling on the floor. Husbands were being cut down to size and she was showing us all the shit that housewives were putting up with, all that emotional labor. If I watched some of her old routine now I doubt it would strike me as funny because these isn't fresh ground anymore.

Then there is the appearance factor. Beautiful women are sub-consciously trained by The Gaze of Others to be as still as possible; serene, still, and smoldering. When you look at Lucille Ball, you realize she had to sacrifice her beauty queen reputation to become the clown. That is no easy decision. Women can be beautiful or they can be funny. Once you make yourself goofy looking, that image is the one that sticks. The eighties equivalent is Julia Louis-Dreyfus who did some of the best physical comedy of any woman ever. However goofy is rarely sexy to men. I can see that is being why stand-up comic is not an easy career path for women.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:20 AM on September 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


One reason why it is so easy to overlook the funny women of the past is because they were so often doing material about being women in a certain time, space and social strata and often this doesn't translate well in later years.

Oh yes! Even so, though, that material about being women in a certain time, space, and social stratum often holds up surprisingly well when you view it as, hm, historical comedy. For example, I'm always recommending that people read Alice Duer Miller's Are Women People?, which was published in 1917 and mostly written a few years before that. And yet that has lines like this:

Lady, dangers lurk in boilers,
Risks I could not let you face.
Men were meant to be the toilers,
Home, you know, is woman's place.
Have no home? Well, is that so?
Still, it's not my fault, you know.

Charming lady, work no more;
Fair you are and sweet as honey;
Work might make your fingers sore,
And, besides, I need the money.
Prithee rest,—or starve or rob—
Only let me have your job!


Or:

They must sacrifice their beauty
Who would do their civic duty,
Who the polling booth would enter,
Who the ballot box would use;
As they drop their ballots in it
Men and women in a minute,
Lose their charm, the antis tell us,
But—the men have less to lose.


I mean, her work is very politically timely and very much a commentary on (then) current events, but I for one still laugh out loud as I read her book a hundred years later and find things that are still hysterical about her turn of phrase in 2015. I don't necessarily think that women's observations on their experience in their place and time don't stay funny, even if I don't always relate to the specific things she's lampooning in her work.
posted by sciatrix at 9:28 AM on September 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Or, hell,

Why We Oppose Votes for Men

1. Because man's place is the armory.
2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.
5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of government.


I promise to quit dumping her work in this thread now. just, she's so great.
posted by sciatrix at 9:34 AM on September 26, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm not sure I even know what "alt-comedy" means but this whole thing of comedians trying to be all macho about how tough their occupation is - is there anything more insufferable?

Things classified as 'alt' are defined more by what they aren't than by what they are.

In this case, alt-comedy is not what Bill Burr does. Everything I've seen him do consists of him being an angry, regressive white guy. He has whole routines where he just talks about how entitled and irrational women are where the humor is supposed to be derived from how 'edgy' and 'politically incorrect' it is. But here's the thing: It is not edgy or politically incorrect. They're all mainstream ideas. These are all basically the same jokes white guys have been telling for generations. It's pretty much the spoken equivalent of memes. It's a standardized format with a very low barrier for understanding that depends on immediately recognizable themes--this is a picture of a douchebag, this is a picture of an entitled suburban woman, etc.. You have about two seconds to convey your message to the largest possible audience, so you need something simple and recognizable. And some of the most easily recognizable themes are racist, classist, and sexist stereotypes. That quick punchline comedy is heavily dependent on just thinking of new ways to repeat the same things you could hear on any conservative talk radio show, framed as though it's edgy and transgressive. He is very popular on Reddit, as you might imagine.

It's not that that quick punchline style of comedy is never funny or clever or intelligent. It certainly can be, but a lot of it, including pretty much everything I've ever seen him do, is just lazy, formulaic, and repetitive. That specific kind of white guy joke that he tells is so overdone that even if it were funny once upon a time, it isn't anymore.

Alt-comedy, then, is not that. It can be any number of different things and different styles, but it frequently depends on a much greater degree of nuance and complexity, which is why it goes over some people's heads. They're trained to think of that specific prescriptive style of humor as the benchmark, and of everything else as being failed attempts at something he does understand.

And it's very telling that, despite the fact that he is not even talking specifically about women comics there, he's describing it in explicitly gendered terms. (Or in terms of reproductive organs, but you know he's not making a distinction.)
posted by ernielundquist at 9:46 AM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Sorry, taking this in the direction of "so you're really saying that all men aren't funny" is really going to just tank the conversation here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:05 AM on September 26, 2015


Just to reiterate my point: It's a lot harder to think of a joke about, say, men's restrooms that hasn't been told over and over, whereas there's probably some ground left for jokes about women's restrooms from the perspective of people who have been in them. That doesn't have much to do with skill, though, it's just that the 'man comedy' path is pretty well worn.

For a while, I expect, you'll be seeing a lot more women being funny than men, simply because women have been underrepresented for so long in so many areas, so there's lots of fresh material to work with.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:12 AM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


"The late and much-venerated Michael O'Donoghue was of the opinion that women weren't funny; one of the female writers on the show (Anne Beatts, maybe?) responded that the bar for getting..."

I think it was Catherine O'Hara.
Mike and Anne were romantically linked at the time which doesn't mean it wasn't Beatts.
Beatts was 5x the writer as Mike, he did have a dark well of material though.
posted by clavdivs at 10:16 AM on September 26, 2015


However goofy is rarely sexy to men.

Fine by me. That's an excellent filter when deciding who not to date.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:10 PM on September 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think it was in The Emotional Labor Thread that women had far too often had their jokes met with blank looks, or taken literally so that the listener often tried to respond or act based on what was meant to be facetious. And so many women themselves stopped telling jokes or making humorous comments. The "oh, so I'm not the only one that happens to." reverberated throughout the thread for a good chunk of it.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:11 PM on September 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've heard people say that when men talk about how they like women with a sense of humor, they mean they like women who laugh at their jokes, not ones who tell their own jokes.

I'd say it's about 50% this and 50% "Don't be uptight about things that aren't important or upsetting to me. Just be chill. Where's your sense of humor?"
posted by KathrynT at 12:58 PM on September 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


However goofy is rarely sexy to men.

Fine by me. That's an excellent filter when deciding who not to date.


Yeah, shared goofiness/irreverence is such an important quality in all of my relationships that as soon as I notice a dude getting sweet on me, I'll find an occasion to go cross-eyed or double-chinned "derp" or a snort-laugh. Bestest friends: snort-laugh and make faces right back, or they giggle and are goofy in different ways.

Filtered right the hell out? Dudes who raise their eyebrows and sneer.
posted by fraula at 1:25 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I think 'funny people', the first ones who pop into my mind are-

- most of the women on my mother's side of the family and most of the women on my wife's father's side of the family. Southern edition. Then there's my wife, who, among other talents, possesses the ability to mimic cruelly any number of people who annoy her.

Which got me to thinking that I couldn't think of any female equivalents of Rich Little or Frank Gorshin. (Possibly I don't get out enough or watch enough television.) A little looking and I turn up Sharon Daniels (old school) and, happily, Christina Bianco.
posted by BWA at 1:27 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


the fact that my husband full belly laughs at my jokes and goofiness and puns and pop music with lyrical changes based on our cat is one of the reasons he's my husband. i didn't even realize how damn relaxing it is to be with someone who gets my sense of humor at first.
posted by nadawi at 1:32 PM on September 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've heard people say that when men talk about how they like women with a sense of humor, they mean they like women who laugh at their jokes, not ones who tell their own jokes.

This reminds me of the suggestion old time dating books for women used to have; explicitly telling girls not to try to be funny or make jokes, because men don't like funny women. These appeared alongside recommendations like: Let him win at tennis, stroke his ego, show him how impressive he is, play dumb. Basically pretend he's a 3 year old and you're his mommy. Sigh. I hate to say that the letting some guys win and letting him feel smart and funny, etc can keep some men with deep anger issues they've chosen not to address or skillfully manage (like adults should) from taking it out on you. Maybe that's what these don't be funny type suggestions were for in the first place because you absolutely can't tell who has anger issues. So maybe not cracking jokes and making him feel good and breaking up gently are all part of the same thing: Don't bruise his ego and make him angry because he might hurt you.

I've also noticed that on a lot of Twitter accounts of female comedy writers, she'll make a hilarious joke, then some guy comes in to try to riff on it or improve it or get in on it or whatever and I can't figure out the motivation for that. I'm guessing to probably get attention but maybe impress her by trying to "improve" the joke she made? The dudes that do this usually aren't funny at all. (But they also don't seem to get they aren't funny.)
posted by discopolo at 2:33 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh that second thing!! makes me so mad! and the other awful part of that - explaining her joke back to her, because i guess in their minds, as a woman she probably accidentally made the joke so luckily a man has come along to let her know where the humor lies in the words that just tumbled out of her mouth.
posted by nadawi at 2:51 PM on September 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


oh that second thing!! makes me so mad! and the other awful part of that - explaining her joke back to her, because i guess in their minds, as a woman she probably accidentally made the joke so luckily a man has come along to let her know where the humor lies in the words that just tumbled out of her mouth.

I hadn't thought of it that way, and that seems very likely! Now I'm mad,too.
posted by discopolo at 3:14 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've noticed dudes doing that to funny dudes, too. I don't get it. I tend to see it from women much less often (though sometimes). It's probably self-explanatory.
posted by easter queen at 7:35 PM on September 26, 2015


Oh, and men explaining my jokes back to me ---> my entire life's struggle.

Example:

*boyfriend being goofy, accidentally pokes finger into my ear in high school*
Me: I feel so... complete.
Boyfriend: Haha, that's actually funny-- because it's like a sexual thing, like the cliche is that people during sex say "I feel complete."
Me: Yes......
posted by easter queen at 7:37 PM on September 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


it's like a sexual thing, like the cliche is that people during sex say "I feel complete.

Wait, it is?
posted by atoxyl at 9:17 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, lord, yeah, that thing where dudes assume my sexual humor is accidental. Like...yes, I do realize that was a double entendre.
posted by thesmallmachine at 8:36 PM on September 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


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