Psychology Today threw a bunch of troll-bait to the internet the other day with a shallow article about women in comedy. Predictably, the trolls arrived to beat their chests about how women are never funny. I replied with much less cursing than is my tendency...
"Comedy comes from a
very personal context, and it's received in a very personal context.
It's mindlessly simplistic to chalk all male or female
humor up to some gender-specific false category, just as it is to
presume that our gendered experiences don't make us different. Joan
Rivers (not funny, just self-loathing and hateful) is more similar to
Don Rickles (also not funny) than she is to Ellen Degeneres. Ellen
(funny) is more similar to Bob Newhart (very funny) than she is to Wanda
Sykes (sometimes funny). The broad generalizations (no pun intended)
are moronic coming from either end of the spectrum.
The lack of
equity in the industry has more to do with a) the biases of audiences
and club owners (and the outspoken bullshit of entitled males) and b)
the likelihood of women seeing it as a possible or viable career than it
has anything to do with the overall funniness of either sex as a whole.
In other words, because of the imbalance in the previous generations,
this generation of women is less likely (than men) to see it as an
option, or even to recognize the possibility. This is so ingrained for
some people that they will say blatantly idiotic and misogynistic things
like "chicks aren't funny" because they see no reason to challenge
themselves. Change is hard for simple minds. This generation has more
female comedians than the last, and the next will have even more. It
will change slower than it should because there's still a lot of dumb
people voting with their dollars. They're disinclined to see other kinds
of humor as funny because it involves a larger perspective.
to the perspective, it's generally true that, due to lingering cultural
biases, that women are frequently acculturated differently than men.
They've been fed an impression that they should be gentler and more
modest. In the extreme, that's part of the reason comedians like Sarah
Silverman (often uncomfortably funny) and Joan Rivers have succeeded - because they behave in
drastic opposition to that acculturation. It's also why Sarah in
particular is so polarizing today, especially for men who are clinging
to outdated gender roles. My grandfather used to say some pretty
horrible $#!+ about Joan (and I loved the guy, but he was never accused
of having an abundance of intelligence, humor or compassion); much of it
being repeated about Sarah by similarly minded men here today, which
makes them even more anachronistically out-of-touch and scared of a world
that clearly has other plans.
Because of that acculturation,
yeah, certain "female humor" does get expressed differently, and a lot
of humor in general gets received differently by a lot of women (see: 3
Stooges, stoner comedy, etc.). That doesn't make it "not funny." It just
makes it a different KIND of funny. There IS an acculturated tendency
for women to enjoy pure silliness more than a lot of men who feel
obligated to posture in non-silly ways (which are actually remarkably
silly, despite their intentions) thanks to the burden of their own