crazy / Pop Culture

No Men, No Funny? (a bit of a rambling inquiry)


Okay, so, there was this piece by Olga Khazan in The Atlantic today. An article that, naturally, caught my attention right off the bat. There’s nothing particularly new about the argument that men don’t care much for funny women. I hear it all the time. Its sexist premise was quite often evident during my improv days, even though the women (minus me) were often much funnier. The local comedy groups, even the big groups in the cities, had a handful of funny women in their lineup, but there weren’t many. Of the professional shows I saw, the few women were always upstaged by their loud, stretchy-faced male counterparts, all vying for as much attention as they could garner.

Anyway, Khazan’s piece brought up some interesting, if troubling, bits of research on the matter (as much as The Atlantic writers are able to do with time constraints)…

According to evolutionary psychologist Gil Greengoss, the reason why men are presumably much more comfortable than women being funny is because, perhaps, they’re “willing to take more risks” when attempting to be funny, and thus, they attempt to be so more often. Because they crack jokes more often, even if their jokes fail miserably, the odds are better for them that they will certainly garner a laugh at some point. Khazan then indicates, since men make so many jokes/attempts at being funny, we naturally “assume” men as being “funnier,” no matter if their sense of humor is, actually, “funny.”

(So, yeah, bombard everyone with joke after joke after joke, no matter the joke, and by golly, the dude must be FUNNY.)


If, as Khazan states, “women want men to tell jokes; men want women who will laugh at theirs,” then, shit, well, we’ve all been conditioned to make certain males are the absolute center of attention, that the male ego must take priority. To take that away from them…by introducing a…oh, I don’t know…a funny woman (the horror!)…would be a turn-off, right? (No more attention FOR YOU, girlie girl!)

All in all, I find that a little too much, really.


Even worse though, there’s a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy happening with women: “Told that their humor isn’t wanted, many women don’t bother.” Seriously, keep reminding anyone of something that isn’t really true, and she or he gradually begins to accept it as truth.


What struck me as curious was that not once did Khazan employ any consideration of humor and gender from an international perspective of some sort, our overseas “parallels” (who aren’t, really, because they are so much better). I’m totally primarily thinking of England, of course. If any of this theoretical hokum is true, and men really are much more comfortable being with women who don’t take away all their funnyez, then how does one explain the evident “comfortableness” in having British comediennes on equal standing as their male counterparts (at least from what I’ve seen), and these are women who are not necessarily single.

I suppose it’s because the British — and I know I am so overgeneralizing — seem to be much freer, intellectually, not so constrained by gender stereotyping and restrictions as a result. Their idea of a desirable woman doesn’t seem quite as superficial as ours in the U.S. Funny women, as the research suggests, are smart, and in England, perhaps, that makes them desirable.


But is what is genuinely considered “funny” really “masculine”? And could that be yet another stupid-arsed reason why we frown on funny women here in the U.S. (unless, of course, they can tell fart jokes with the best of them)? I don’t think humor itself is particularly masculine, but I suppose I’ve never really thought of anything I’ve found funny so gender-specific. I don’t find slapstick or gross-out humor funny, and yeah, if I were to categorize that according to gender stereotypes/norms, that all would be (unfairly) categorized as “masculine.” However, I find that shallow and insulting to men simply because it has us stereotype them as being childish and superficial when it comes to humor and their tastes.

My own close male friends, family, and acquaintances understand the very nature of comedy, I think, which makes them world’s above the bullshit stereotypes who feel as if funny women have no place at the table. In fact, every single one of them has, or has had, relationships with funny women, women who never felt the need to keep her humor — her zaniness — subdued whatsoever.

If it is true, however, that many men have a hard time seeing “funny” women as even desirable, perhaps they simply need to check their own inflated egos at the door.



17 thoughts on “No Men, No Funny? (a bit of a rambling inquiry)

  1. Count me among those who have never found funny women to be a threat to my masculinity. Be funny, be zany, be Crazy…all are welcome. I’d rather be around somebody with personality and who makes me smile than anybody who just hangs on my arm and subverts themselves because of my own ego. She’s woman with a well developed sense of wit is always attractive, in my book anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Undoubtedly you have always been self-aware like that, I’m sure. 🙂 I think in order to “get” true humor and give and take it, one certainly must have social intelligence as the research suggests (and, to borrow from Harvey Gardner, probably intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligience). I think only idiot egotists are more likely to not want to be around funny women.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think your gender has much to do with it. I think psycho-social conditioning of both genders certainly does though. It’s troubling though that the stupids (no matter the gender) are the loudest.I subscribe to a blog here on WordPress called We Hunted the Mammoth that exposes a lot of this sort of shit, and I still can’t get over these Redditors, these loud gasbags in the 21st-flipping-century who STILL think women should be seen and not heard.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There’s much of that sort of thing back where I’m from. Lol I caught myself the other day when I said to a friend “Christ, these last few generation of men are the most whiny and lazy people I’ve ever seen” (or something to that effect)….in that there are ways I’ve been conditioned to act that are still with me. Women should be both seen and heard — a beautiful mind is beautiful mind.

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  2. Wouldn’t the spouses and loves of the famously female comics make an interesting topic? Was Carol Burnett married? Were these others you have pictured? I would certainly read that book. Good post! Truly and well-stated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Burnett was married more than once. Miranda Hart and Mindy Kahling are single (I know Kahling has dated BJ Novak, who is brilliant, too). Lumley and Saunders, married (Saunders is with Adrian Edmondson, which, to me, is a match made in comedy heaven). Madeline Khan married the year before she passed away from ovarian cancer, I think. Anyway, I think you’ve hit on something there, a piece about spouses of female comics and their relationships with them. I’ve mad respect for men who want to spend their lives with smart, funny women…and don’t feel as if their husbands (or wife — a la Lily Tomlin) are taking the spotlight from them. That’s the mark of a truly self-aware and self-confident person,imho. I’d so read that book, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love love getting information via blogs and comments. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. Perhaps you will now write the book we both crave to read? My niece is a comedienne and I’ve seen a bit of her life–not unlike mine as a poet reading in clubs in L.A. Small audiences, strange venues. But, I think she’s enjoying her life.

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    • On average, I’ve no idea. Like I said, many of my friends, family, and good acquaintances go for the stuff from abroad. They’re not the norm though according to box office comedy numbers.


  3. I once had a male boss tell me: “Just so you know, men don’t like funny women” — at a company holiday party! [Or maybe he said, ‘gals.’] And I said, “Just so you know, women don’t like men who think they’re funny and aren’t”… and then a bunch of worse stuff re: his ‘beard,” bad breath, etc., in my head. But it struck a chord because even though I’m not funny in my blog (usually, or at least I’m not TRYING to be, and have always been perplexed because I’m funny in real life — I mean really, but not in writing), I have suffered the funny woman blues. I’m particularly interested in the “gender-specific” piece of all this because I do see lots of women comedians “limiting” themselves to what could be considered very gender-specific humor. Thought about all of this a lot, but more later (including reading that article). I’ve gotta start this day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a(n unoriginal, obvious) theory about that brand of men, and it’s been somewhat echoed here: Men who don’t like funny women are closet narcissists. That male boss of yours takes that theory to another level — Not only did he make that sweeping proclamation, but he made it all-inclusive, like it’s ALL men who don’t. (Dumb dick.) Your comment back to him was just perfect…but, like you, I would’ve had all sorts of insults racing through my mind as well.

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  4. Interesting! I keep stumbling over articles on this every now and again, and it seems to be an American thing, though. I’m smack dab in the middle of Europe and never heard anyone say men don’t like funny women. Then again, no one here is particularly funny, except the British. And they’re usually just really mean but everyone thinks they’re joking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the British sense of humor because they’re so seemingly apologetic (and wholly self-aware) about their apathy towards hurt feelings, political incorrectness and whatnot. As for America, American men who are socially intelligent and secure with themselves do love funny women and respect them as equals.


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