Last Saturday, in an interview with Larry Getlen in the New York Post, Adam Carolla was quoted as saying what every man I know secretly thinks anyway: men are, as a whole, funnier than women.
“They make you hire a certain number of chicks, and they’re always the least funny on the writing staff. The reason why you know more funny dudes than funny chicks is that dudes are funnier than chicks,” he said, in preparation for a month of masturbating alone in his office.
Immediately, outraged blog posts started popping up, and Adam was decried as a misogynist and an asshole and a bad father for insinuating that his daughter should become a sitcom writer because it’s easy.
Despite this, that guy from The Man Show made it pretty clear that’s how he personally feels and he feels that way because he’s a comedian and it’s his business to feel that way. Adam also said he doesn’t particularly care what anybody thinks about it.
So here’s what people think about it:
1. Adam is mean and a jerk!
2. What if a woman said men weren’t funny?
3. He is wrong for not finding every woman alive absolutely hilarious!
4. Grrrr! Vaginas! Change your mind, damnit!
Now, I don’t know Adam Carolla, nor do I have any opinion on him. He could be a replicant, he could eat black babies. He could, in fact, actually hate women and rape one or two every day at lunch. This is information I don’t have. Ultimately, I don’t really think it’s relevant. The point is, every time a man says women aren’t funny, women respond in the same way. They say: You’re wrong.
The problem is, by simply responding with “You’re an asshole and a woman hater,” you ignore the idea that individual human beings are entitled to their own sense of humor.
For example, I don’t find a lot of humor in Def Comedy Jam, but that doesn’t mean I think the South should have won the Civil War. It means talking about black women’s weaves is just is not funny to me. It’s not my life experience. I don’t care if you pull a Clockwork Orange on my eyeballs and play Steve Harvey on an infinite loop while feeding me a heroic dose of mushrooms and tickling my feet—I’m not going to crack a smile at a man in purple double-breasted suit. I simply don’t care that white people dance like THIS.
But no one would say the reason I’m bored by most Def Jam-style comics is because I’m a racist. I’m not expected to like it. So why does it have to be misogynistic to think most women aren’t funny?
All this is to say: women actually are funny. Women are side-splittingly hilarious, in fact. Mostly to other women. To men, however, they’re usually kinda "meh." I’m a woman, but all of my favorite comedians are men. Does that mean I hate women, too? Do I hate myself? What if I take a hammer to my vagina and scream, “I NEVER WANTED YOU!” while pounding my clit into Veal Marsala and listening to Kathy Griffin? Choices!
Poor, dead, Christopher Hitchens! His legacy, unfortunately, seems to be a boorish, vague observation in Vanity Fair that women aren’t funny because, evolutionarily, they didn’t need to be. Sure, the man had some pretty solid arguments against religion and God and stuff, but let’s remember him for who his favorite female comedian was, shall we? Later, we’ll get a sneak peak at a posthumous recipe book for the Hitch’s favorite home-cooked meals: Linguini is Not Great: How Ragu Poisons Everything.
That women don’t need to be funny is an interesting argument, I guess, but there’s simply no way to prove it. Women don’t need to be funny? OK. I mean. Maybe? You either agree or disagree; and if you do agree it’s on the basis that it “sounds about right.” The baby ain’t swimming because the baby ain’t got no legs.
How about this. How about instead of saying that women aren’t funny (which is histrionic, overreaching, and based in opinion) let’s say this instead: Most men don’t find most women funny. And this, in turn, really pisses off most women. Because they find themselves fucking hilarious.
Instead of getting all red-faced and angry about men not thinking I’m funny (mercy me, whatever shall I do?), I decided that I wanted to delve deeper into the question itself. That is: Why don’t men think women are funny? After some thought, I came up with this hypothesis:
I bet it has something to do with their jokes.
With the help of a magical wizard named YouTube the White, I watched five 5-7 minute (industry standard) sets from five men and five women who are well-respected in the comedy scene as of late. These are not open-mikers, they are rising stars. I purposely did not include great comics such as David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, Maria Bamford, or anyone who has had measurable long-term success as a comedian.
Instead, I chose the type of comics who show up in a HuffPo “Comics we’d love to get pedicures with!” photo spread. Where possible, I used a set that had aired on late-night television. I wrote down every premise they covered and then I compared notes.
The subjects the women spoke about were essentially all the same. They were, in short, all about themselves. Their life, their hair, their roommates, their feelings. In other words, all the female comedy was turned inward. Out of five 7-minute sets, there were only three jokes that spoke about outside events and only one joke about politics. It took 28 minutes before I laughed aloud.
The men, on the other hand, rarely spoke about themselves. Jokes about their appearance were used as soft openers in order to lead the audience into the set. This is not to say that male comedians are not capable of being horrible, self-involved, rambling bores. Dear God, are they ever! But out of my personal test group, they were not. They spoke liberally about history, religion, and politics. They spoke in pithy, crafted observations. Never once did they mention they felt fat.
Below is the list of topics I faithfully wrote down as each new premise presented itself (where topics repeated between comedians, I placed a numeric tally after the premise). In alphabetical order:
Apartment is annoying
Being a female comedian (x2)
Dating is awkward (x2)
Did poorly in school
Doesn’t want kids because she’s “selfish”
Hates New York
Her body (x2)
Her mom (x2)
How guys hit on her
It’s hard being a woman, putting on makeup, and wearing heels and stuff
Just got engaged
Just went through a breakup
Roommate is annoying
Sex and condoms
She’s too pretty to do standup (x2)
What she’s wearing
What/who she looks like (x2)
Being thanked on an elevator
Clichés people use
Free AIDS clinics
God won’t help you bowl/God doesn’t exist
Having sex with animals
Holding the phone between your ear and shoulder
How to treat AIDS
If the Jews killed Jesus
Mayan 2012 prediction
People asking him where he’s from
The “ethnic needs” section of the supermarket
The age of sliced bread
The Cyclone at Coney Island
The Roman Empire
The storylines behind rollercoasters
Vegan soul food
What/who he looks like (x2)
White chocolate is racist
The first difference I noticed was how much easier it would be to guess the male comedians by looking at their premises. If you saw "Coney Island rollercoaster" and you know anything about comedy, you immediately know the comic I’m talking about. But, say, did you hear the one about the…vagina? You know the one about the vagina? Am I right, ladies? Oh yes, that one vagina joke. I’ve heard that one!
It’s not that women aren’t funny. That’s a stupid-ass thing to think, since obviously there are funny women.
However, I think female comedians don’t really want to relate to a greater audience. And ultimately, I think their core audience is just fine with this. If bachelorette parties are entertained and gay men are drinking it up, the comediennes are doing their job. Just like Def Jam and the Blue Collar Comedy Tour do what they’re paid to do. A lot of comedy is pandering to a core audience.
Interestingly, when men point out the women they DO find funny, they inevitably point to comedians such as Tina Fey and Sarah Silverman. That is, it’s the women who break this self-involved stereotype—comics who don’t constantly talk about themselves, and if they do, there’s a punchline. Comics who write jokes instead of telling stories. Comics who are harsh and focused and practiced. Women at the top of their craft.
Let me talk to the ladies in the crowd for just a minute here. Ladies? If you want men to find you funny, I’m afraid you’re going to need to broaden your topics of conversation. You’re going to need to talk about books and things outside your studio apartment in Brooklyn. However, if you don’t want men to find you funny, then just keep doing what you’re doing. Talk about yourself all day and all night! Talk about dating and read from your fourth-grade diary until the crowd carries you off on its shoulders. However, don’t squirt your period all over the couch when Adam Carolla says he doesn’t think most women are funny and doesn’t want to hire them for his show. Because you have the ability to change that.
Before you write a joke, why don’t you ask yourself: Do I actually have anything new to say? Am I adding value to people’s insights and beliefs? Or do I just tell stories and expect everyone in the audience to find me as adorable as my family and friends do?
How about this:
Instead of getting angry at men for saying you’re not funny, why don’t you go on stage before them and kill so fucking hard that they can’t follow you? Why don’t you write killer material and shove it in their face until they can’t deny how great you are? Why don’t you do what every other comic does and use your anger and determination as fuel to destroy the crowd?
There’s a lot of competition and resentment in comedy. Comedians are fucking assholes. If that upsets or intimidates you—male or female—then I’d say you’re not cut out for it. However, if it doesn’t upset you and inspires you, then get on stage and blow the room away and show Adam Carolla he was dead wrong. And if you can’t do that, then you’re not really funny, are you?