Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
The piece was written by Warren Bell, " a 15-year veteran of the sitcom business." (his IMDB page)
Here's the premise in a nutshell:
Are women as innately funny as men?.... ...Okay, men are funnier. Way funnier. Not even close. Male writers, male actors, male stand-up comedians. All funnier.
My first reaction was to attack the article on its face. Men funnier than women by default? How dare you! However, I realized two things after reading the article again - first, that I do find men - in the arena of the entertainment industry - funnier than women and also that the chromosome premise isn't really what bothered me about the piece.
See, Bell starts off on a scientific bent, but then descends into something else entirely, mainly dividing men and women into what they perceive to be funny. Which is a lot different than being funny.
I asked the questions of my readers last night because I was speaking to a friend about this and he reminded me that I'm not your typical women, so for me to get flustered about lines like:
Okay, show of hands: How many girls memorized all the dialogue from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when they were 14? No one? Not a surprise
didn't mean that those words are an affront to all women. Yet, out of all the women who answered the questions and, knowing the comedic favorites of my female friends and family members, most of us can recite dialogue from the Holy Grail.
Bell then makes an argument against genetics and claims that men need to be funny. It's important to them. Why? For the attention, of course:
A good sense of humor is never going to compete with a 90-mph fastball in terms of babe appeal, but it's a better path to alpha-male status than, oh, say, learning to program a Radio Shack TRS-80 home computer.
Young women, on the other hand, have no need for the funny:
Young girls who want attention have other weapons — they can scream, they can cry, they can grow breasts. They can be heartbreakingly beautiful and call me a nerd for imitating the Coneheads all the time. Learning to be funny would seem, for girls, to be more of a last resort.
I have news for Warren. An ugly girl with breasts is, well, an ugly girl with breasts. And no D cup in the world is going to make a guy pay attention to a girl with a face that only her mother could love. But that's a whole other story, isn't it?
After a few paragraphs spent denigrating women, their sense of humor and their capability to be funny, he goes on to make the typical "but some of my best friends are funny women" comment, then slams the brakes on that (before he goes overboard and gets made fun of by his Boys Only Club, I guess) and turns the other way:
Also, a writer's room filled only with men can descend quickly into pagan rites, the days and nights wasted with Nerf dart gun wars, discussions and demonstrations of bodily functions, and endless mind-numbing recitations of entire scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And as lovely as that sounds to the 14-year-old still very much alive in me, I need to remember that the women in the audience will not be impressed.
You are wrong, Warren. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
It seems to me that Mr. Bell has a rather archaic view of women, in that he sees us as prim, proper, easily offended. We giggle politely at jokes about periods and ex-boyfriends (but not too hard, guffawing isn't lady like) and those funny birthing baby stories, but we avert our eyes and cover our ears when someone makes a fart joke and stifle a yawn at Monty Python humor.
Are men funnier? Perhaps. But just because the male of the species can tell the joke better, doesn't mean that women won't get or laugh at those jokes. I think it's a matter of upbringing, not genetics, that make us laugh at the things we do. Nurture, not nature, so to speak.
I was brought up in a family where humor played a big role. I think I told my first fart joke at age two. I could dish out the worst of the worst puns by four. By the time I finished grade school, my sense of dark, black humor had been honed to a fine point. The movies we watched, the jokes my father told, the things my parents laughed at - they all had a role in defining what I laugh at today. I like my humor dark, sarcastic, caustic. I also like it subtle and dry, depending on the situation.
So, sense of humor: nature or nurture? Am I this way despite being a girl, or in spite of being a girl?
As for Mr. Bell, I fart in his general direction.