Mind the gap

Comedy's gender divide

Men don’t find female comedians funny because their sense of humour is intrinsically different, a new study suggests.

In the week that readers of lads’ mag FHM voted the funniest women as ‘none of them’, research by global advertising agency JWT points to a divide in what the genders find funny.

Their research found that male humour is based on competition and impressing those around them, whereas women use jokes to make people feel at ease.

The agency’s Diana Coulson, said: ‘Women's main source of humour is from the everyday, the little issues, stuff they observe and that happens to them.

‘Men want to be funny to show off and to get people to admire them. It's all about scoring points, whereas with women humour is much more a way of creating an attachment, bonding and getting intimacy with people.’

The company quizzed pairs of female friends around the world – and found British women were the most ‘laddish’ in their sense of humour.

Ms Coulson said: ‘Girls won't have any issue with talking about sex and being quite vulgar if they think it's going to get a good laugh.’

Although JWT also spoke to anthropologists, sociologists and comedians in their quest to find which advertisements are more likely to make women laugh, not everyone agrees with its findings.

Psychologist Mike Lowis told the Independent that both sexes found real-life situations amusing. ‘We all like humour that's based on real experiences. My own research showed there were no significant gender differences.’

And Lynne Parker, the producer of Funny Women stand-up shows, said: ‘I think the lines are probably a little more blurred than the report suggests.’

The JWT report said that brands were failing to use humour to appeal to women, in particular in adverts for beauty products, which were criticised for their patronising, humourless pseudo-scientific references.


Published: 30 Sep 2005

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