Why Don’t Women Comics Make Me Laugh?

May 19, 2014
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Until recently I was teaching English to the director of a multinational in Barcelona, and just before I left for England I went to visit him to congratulate him on the birth of his daughter.

When the two of us were alone he mournfully conceded that the best his daughter could hope for was to be born a man in a future life. I was quite horrified, so I took him to task over what he said, to which he replied that every single man holds within him a sexist opinion.

Why Don't Women Comics Make Me Laugh?

I thought about it long and hard, and then it hit me whilst watching a Shazia Mirza comedy set: female comedians just don’t make me laugh. I genuinely don’t believe I’ve ever really laughed – I mean laughed out loud, laughed so much that it hurt, laughed so much that a bit of wee came out, laughed so much I’ve turned to the person next to me in order to guarantee what has just come to pass – for a female comedian, and I feel as though I’m not alone.

It’s not to say that women are any less funny than men, or any less intelligent for that matter. Watching the set I could really appreciate the complexity and depth of her material, and the originality of her ideas, but I just couldn’t laugh.

It’s not just obscure female Muslim comedians I’m talking about either. Take Joan Rivers for example. As a lover of comedy I can appreciate that she’s a peerless pioneer, not only because she is a woman who carved out a career for herself in such a male dominated industry, but also for her often cited brand of self deprecation. She just doesn’t make me laugh.

Sarah Silverman: dynamic, bold, fantastic audience interaction – still nothing.

Rather than label myself a sexist I’ve come up with a paper-thin theory, which might just be tenuous enough to explain my condition. Indulge me if you will.

Why Don't Women Comics Make Me Laugh?

For primitive humans the origin of the smile wasn’t so much connected with humor, but more so with submissiveness. It was a way of showing weakness, and moreover a demonstrative gesture to a dominant male that you weren’t a threat. Evidence of this can perhaps be seen by the way that monkeys smile when they are agitated.

Now, with comedy essentially you have a dominant male on a stage with a microphone whose status has been elevated to that of a talisman. When this male is telling you his jokes, he is essentially challenging you to a) understand his jokes, and b) show your appreciation for fear of a reprisal. It’s basically the reason why we always awkwardly laugh at our dad’s crap jokes.

I feel that with female comedians we can appreciate her material, yet we don’t feel the same visceral pressure to laugh. That’s not to say she isn’t funny.


Editor’s note: To all our women readers out there, what do you make of this? Has it annoyed the hell out of you? If you have another idea about this subject, then we want to hear from you!

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  1. Uhm… is this a troll article??? Written just to get women riled up??
    Because if the only reason the author can come up with is, “long, long ago men were dominant roarrr! And genetics, biology and yeah…” then it’s a mighty flimsy excuse. Perhaps he doesn’t find women funny, and that fine, cuz that doesn’t mean women aren’t funny. But to come up with a stupid excuse is well.. stupid… There is no evidence that women were submissive in the ‘long, long ago’ in fact it has been disproven many times over that men didn’t conk women over their heads and drag them to their caves. Nor were women only submissive gatherers… so this whole article like my comment is a waste of time! 😛

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