Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Are Men Funnier Than Women?

Are women, as a rule, lacking in humor?

The idea has long been debated among friends, once the old adage was mentioned during one fateful evening, that only men think the Three Stooges are funny. I admit I only know a handful of women who do while men are always fans of the hitting and slapping and sheer violent comedy of the Stooges.

A story in Vanity Fair puts forth the notion that women just don't make with the funny as well as men do, though the article is about as lame a presentation as I've ever read. No surprise that Christopher Hitchens is the author of yet another pitiful proposal, this one titled "Why Women Aren't Funny".

There are nearly 200 comments so far in a post about this story at MetaFilter.

There is agreement that the article in question and it's author are painfully off target. But the question remains - are women, as a rule, just not as funny as men?

It is noted that claiming a man is funny is the equal of the compliment that a woman is pretty. Seems to me that the argument is 'pretty funny' indeed. While I admit that I do know many women who don't seem to be able to tell a joke correctly, that is far different from being funny. Measuring the number of male versus female stand-up comics is no good guide either, as very few really funny stand-up comedians even exist.

I've had the great fun of working with many improv comedy groups and found that the women were just as funny as the men, and in general only a few people excel at improv.

The article in Vanity Fair says humor is just another form of aggression. That is another topic of debate too.

Humorist Robert Benchly once said - "Defining and analyzing humor is a pastime of humorless people."

A friend in high school often made the following claim - "The only things people laugh at are pain and other people."

Far more instructive, however, is the following comment made by an improv comedy troupe member during one evening's rehearsal - "The thing about comedy is, it has to be funny."

That's the best summation of comedy and humor I know.


  1. Just because we laugh at men when they are naked, doesn't mean we think that they are funny!

  2. I don't think the three stooges are remotely funny.

    And I highly value my sense of humor.

    Personally, I think that our society says that women shouldn't be funny - maybe we like our women to seem unintelligent?

  3. carpenterjd4:51 PM

    Some men are funny. Some men are not.
    Some women are funny. Some women are not.

    The stooges were funny. Carrot Top is not.

    Lewis Black is funny. Paula Poundstone is not.

    Ellen degeneres is funny. Roseanne is not.

    That is my opinion. Some other people would differ. If everyone thought the same things were funny, then Mel Brooks would not have had a career.

  4. For the record: I laugh at men all the time.

  5. Christopher Hitchens can suck my dick.

  6. see - look at all these most funny women here!!

  7. james3:16 PM

    A woman who can laugh at the Stooges is a treasure,I'm married to one.