“I honestly just don’t find women to be funny.”
My best friend said this to me over the summer while we were practicing improv with a group of people I respect and admire. He said it while looking me directly in the eye. I was the only woman in the room.
The worst part about this was my friend wasn’t trying to be offensive or hurtful. He was just stating an opinion he has heard repeated by so many others.
As a woman who devotes a big chunk of her life to practicing and studying comedy, I find this idea exhausting and frustrating.
The rebuttal I gave him then is the same I would like to explain now.
It is understandable to find men’s humor more relatable if you are a man, and women’s humor more relatable if you are a woman. In fact, it’s totally fine! I oftentimes find myself laughing harder at women’s humor because they speak toward experiences I’ve had, and they experience the world from a viewpoint similar to my own.
It doesn’t mean I don’t think men are funny. It just means I find women’s humor more relatable.
I’m not saying that all women are funny. Some aren’t, just like not all men are funny. But making a sweeping generalization about an entire gender, and placing their talents below another, is wrong.
Saying “women aren’t funny” belittles the intellect, talent and hard work of every single hilarious woman who has made a killing in comedy — not to mention all the women who are just funny by nature. When someone says that women aren’t funny, I assume that means they never had a mother, aunt, sister, cousin, friend, teacher, neighbor or any other woman in their life make them laugh. Personally, I find it hard to believe that’s true.
Saying that women aren’t funny is a small-minded comment, indicating that a person doesn’t know how to appreciate humor that originates from a viewpoint that differs from their own.
The fact that I am still hearing this comment and making this argument is astounding to me when I think of all the women who have contributed to comedic history. We have seen hilarious women like Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Wanda Sykes, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Ali Wong, Kate McKinnon and Tiffany Haddish kick ass.
And that is such a small fraction of the amazing funny women who have rocked comedy in Hollywood. I could write an entire op-ed just listing hilarious women by name, and I wouldn’t even begin to cover it (I won’t do it, but I totally could).
Women are intelligent, quick-thinking and bold. Women can pick up and exaggerate the nuances, quirks and oddities of everyday life. Women can fire off split-second witty remarks. Women can tell a joke so blue it makes a whole room blush. Women can write cutting satire. Women can kill in stand-up clubs, write knockout sketches, and perform as characters that are so funny you’ll laugh till your stomach hurts.
In short, women are funny. In fact, we’re fucking hilarious.