Former Man Show host Adam Carolla recently sparked a firestorm when he announced that “women are inherently less funny than men,” with an “inferior sense of humor”. What an interesting way to get laughs! Carolla essentially became a laughing stock himself when he added that, with humor, “going cruel is preferred”.
But his comparison of the sexes, skewed as it may be, does bring up an interesting point - one begging a fair response - from the fairer, and funnier, sex!
Why is it that when a guy tells a joke, everyone laughs, but if a woman tells that same joke, she is looked down upon as (1) unladylike, (2) desperately seeking attention, or (3) still not over the pain of childbirth? Is it her delivery? Is it because women cannot tell a joke? Is it because ‘romantic comedy’ is the only thing females excel in? This is no laughing matter - there is something funny going on, and we girls are not laughing!
Carolla’s comedic timing is way off – and so are his facts. Over thirty years ago Ned Herrmann, physicist, concert vocalist and artist known for his brain-dominance theories, reported in his book, The Creative Brain, that women are significantly more humorous than men because they are more ‘right-brained’ – that is, they most favor that side of the brain known for creativity. In his studies, Herrmann found women to be more innovative, clever and witty, more concerned with the feelings of others and better at dealing with people, culture, and values than men. So why does the myth persist that men are funnier than women?
Is there funny business going on between the sexes? Last October, the scientific community finally and grudgingly acknowledged that women are funny – but less funny than men - by 0.11 points out of a score of 5. This conclusion was based on a study by psychologists at the University of California, San Diego, who asked 32 undergraduate men and women to make up captions for 20 New Yorker cartoons. Then a group of 34 men and 47 women subjectively judged the humor, invariably supporting the “men-are-funnier’ stereotype. Conversely, Mr. Herrmann’s right-brain research, which scientifically proves women have significantly higher humor levels, continues to be ignored.
It’s a comic ‘men’tality: In the traditionally male-oriented comic-strip industry, less than 1% of the newspaper and web comic strips are created by females. With all that male-centric humor, no wonder males dominate the comics.
It’s a ‘gent’der thing: In comedy clubs around the country, where are the females? They are few and far between, because the bookers hire mainly male acts, saying they must appeal to their men-dominated audiences. Funny? Ha! Ha! Not!
Sexual bias is nothing to laugh at, and there are five main reasons why there are so few female humorists:
- Too ‘many pauses’: The comedy industry frowns on jokes about women’s issues, a problem for almost every female capable of creating humor. Men call the women’s content too hormonal, when their real issue is chromosomal. Merida, Pixel’s first animated picture with a strong female lead and a mother-daughter story-line, finally gives girls relatable material; however, Adam W. Kepler, writer for the New York Times, wondered if the story would “repel little boys”? Since when is this an issue? How many boys flocked to see the movie blockbuster, Bridesmaids, with its female storyline and gags? Who cares!
- Not into ‘c-rude’ humor: There is a sexual stereotype that women lack wit. False! We simply don’t find ethnic, sexual, insulting or bathroom jokes funny. Women, with their dominant-right-side caring and sensitive brains, find hurtful jokes offensive.
- Funny as a heart attack: Men think they are a lot funnier than they really are. According to Christopher Hitchens, in his much-publicized 2007 Vanity Fair article titled “Why Women Aren’t Funny”, he wrote that men’s humor is aggressive and pre-emptive and went on to say, “men will laugh at almost anything” - except women’s jokes.
- It’s a very bad ‘ha-ha’bit: How can an intelligent person think the movie, The Three Stooges, is funny? This unfunny flick offers hostile, violent slapstick capitalizing on pain for humor. What is so funny about poking someone’s eyes out – or getting a pie in the face?
- Women lack ‘testosterone’. Bottom line: Men don’t see funny women as sexy and therefore refuse to laugh at a female’s jokes, discouraging women from entering the humor marketplace. Talk about gagging!
With all this being said, I have a ‘funny bone’ to pick with the guys. Males argue that more men than women apply for humor-entertainment positions, so they cannot be blamed for the imbalance. Hello! Stop discouraging the gals, and maybe that ratio will change.
Cut the comedy: Women continue to be demoralized when they apply for jobs that they do not get, because men are doing the selecting and the process is heavily skewed toward the male applicant. Title IX, one of many sexual discrimination statutes, has been interpreted to require a proportionality mandate, which, if applied here, would mean that since women make up half the population, one-half of the comics, the comedy clubs, and the television, movie and entertainment industry should be administered by ladies.
‘DIS-WOMEN-NATION’: Sexual inequity in the humor arena must be corrected to be in proper proportion to the population. The most effective way to combat sexism is to create a movement that encourages and nourishes humorous female comedians, entertainers and writers, and brings the number of women humorists more in line with the number of males. Organizations should increase opportunities for women through scholarships, grants and contests and mentoring, recruitment and outreach programs.
Sexual bias is a wrong that women must ‘write’: Women comedians and humor-writers should flood the market with high caliber material appealing to females and become visible role models for young girls. Ladies everywhere need to write their newspapers, e-mail the comedy clubs and notify TV and movie producers that they want more female comedians and heroic role models like Merida and Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games, who are proven box office draws.
It does not take a ‘man-date’! Stop humoring the men and give females the recognition they deserve, since we’re at wits’ end. In the final analysis, we will have the last laugh.
Kathy Johnson, attorney and author, promotes humor, character, excellence and girl-power on her web site, www.starletteuniverse.com and in her ‘tween and teen girl-series book, STARLETTE UNIVERSE - Book 1: ‘CAT’Astrophe. STARLETTE UNIVERSE – Book 2: Eva from E-ville will be out next month.