March 13, 2008

"Chicks Aren't Funny, Man!"

. . . "Er, if they are, they're funny in a masculine way. Or maybe a Jewey way."

Okey-doke, Chrissy. Nothing more butch than a Jewess.

Fausta's looking for comments on the latest kerfuffle between Christopher Hitchens and the comediennes of our day. My comment at her site:

I know maybe a dozen truly funny people, and I'd say about 40% of them are women. What Hitchens is getting at is that humor is an aggressive act, and therefore comedy is a sandbox that men have preferred to play in.

But it's silly to argue as he does that most funny women are "masculine" in some way. After all, most female astronauts are "masculine" by some measure. So are most female hunters. And female race car drivers. Even female doctors. We're not made of sugar water.

Is there a "feminine" sense of humor that women have abandoned for the more "masculine" variety practiced by Sarah Silverman, Amy Sedaris, et al.? Well, maybe: Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett come to mind—there's a gentler form of humor that women engaged in in the 20th Century.

One can go back a few hundred years to Jane Austen, however, and see that chicks have been funny for a long time.

But whether one does it gently, a la Austen, sardonically, a la Virginia Woof, or brutally, a la Sarah Silverman, to make a joke is to poke someone in the ribs. It may not come from genuine "animus," in the sense of it emerging from a real grudge—but it certainly doesn't come from anima.

The answer is, so what? Hitchens is trying to be provocative. But I'd like to see him try to get me to laugh . . . It isn't that easy.

Acually, I'm not parsimonious with my laughter—I don't play it like a studio executive who's scared that if he/she laughs at the pitch, the writer or producer will think he/she made the sale. (Or, to put it in Hitchens' terms, I'm not afraid that a guy will equate a laugh with sexual availability.)

And I'm not a humorist, though I know a few of 'em.

I never read Hitchens' original article on the subject, though I suspect I will now. I wonder if it'll get a rise out of me, or if I'll just think it's darling of him—like his antagonism to religion, his sentimental attachment to Marxism, and his genuine vanity. I adore Hitch, but I can't take any of that stuff seriously.

"If you can't make 'em laugh, you don't have a chance." Hm. By that measure, I've only had sex with two or three men in my life, and no women. (The real figures are, um, a smidge north of there.)

Like I said—I'm not a funny woman, so I don't think I have a real dog in this fight. But I do know that the debate has been raging for a long time. (Read that book, if you can find it. The "How to Seduce a Feminist" essay is worth the price, all on its own.)

Ace (funny guy and secret defender of women-who-haven't-gotten-on-his-bad-side) has this to say about Hitch:

Whether you agree with his point or not (and I don't—he's just making shit up as he goes to be provocative, but there's no crime in that), it isn't the offhandedly brutal bit of antisemitism (and anti-lesbianism, and No Fat Chickery) it seems to be at first. He's just rescuing his point by setting those three categories apart and branding them a sub-type of male humor.

Anyway, more ammo for the gender war, I guess.

Man, is Kirstin Wiig cute. I would hit that like the cannonball hitting the fat guy's belly in slow motion.

By the way, I'm not really kissing up to women again in saying Hitchens is just making shit up. Of course man are more frequently funny than women, and of course men are funnier than women on average, and all the rest of it. I mean, duh.

But his original article claimed there were no funny women (except those male-ish dykes, Jews, and fatties), which is obviously just stupid.

But it is getting the boy—Hitchens—some ink—and female attention. Which is what he was after in the first place, by his own admission.

UPDATE: Someone want me to play hardball? I can do that now, without even reading Hitch's original article. (And I'm not sure I want to do that, unless he wants to read it aloud to me while sucking down some Johnny Walker Blue and telling me how fabulous my white American teeth look, while keeping his dirty Limey paws to himself.

Are you ready?

Dorothy. Freakin'. Parker.

So, deal.

Posted by Attila Girl at March 13, 2008 12:49 PM | TrackBack

I think women are as funny as men, individually and on average. From my own personal experience, of course. You just have to listen and make the leap that is it not unintentional. And sometimes women chose to hide it around strangers.

Posted by: Darrell at March 13, 2008 03:52 PM

One exception to the above--the best of today's humor--fart jokes. There I find women sadly lacking.

Posted by: Darrell at March 13, 2008 09:12 PM

Yeah--I will have to confess that women underperform when it comes to fart jokes. Though perhaps not actual farting.

I'm afraid fart jokes could be another arena like serial killing, wherein my gender just won't ever catch up.

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 14, 2008 08:40 AM

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