Women: We're just not funny. Period.

by Jacinta Nandi-Pierschamm

We’re frequently told that women aren't funny… but could it be true?

I phoned my mum and asked her what she thought. ‘Of course, we're not funny,’ she sniffed disapprovingly. ‘We've got to get the bloody housework done, haven't we?’

My heart sank. Then I asked my mate Maz what she thought. ‘Jo Brand's funny,’ she said encouragingly. ‘To look at.’

Now, let's look at this carefully, before we get too suicidal. Women are funny - some of the funniest people I know are women. You should hear my stepmum on the Paralympics. She makes Catherine Tate's nan sound like the Dalai Lama.

What women aren't, though, is as good at comedy as men.  Not quite.  All right.  I said it. 

But, boys, sorry to break the news to you: you guys aren't as funny as you think you are, either. The truth is, life in Britain would be considerably improved - I am saying by as much as 17 per cent - if every Tom, Dick and Harry under the age of 35 didn't spend every single family gathering boring everyone with painfully bad, and incredibly long, Harry Enfield/Ali G/Vicky Pollard impersonations. Also, if your dad didn't think that things Ben Elton says about Little Chefs were actually true and actually happened to him ‘every time’ he went in a Little Chef.

Then this strange sense of peace would descend upon the British Isles. We would be able to communicate with each other and when we didn't have anything to say, we would just sit there, with each other, breathing peacefully and enjoying the silence. Plus, we would be able to go to Little Chefs when we got hungry on the motorway.

So women aren't mightn’t make such good comedians as men, but men aren't as funny as they mistakenly think they are. But women shouldn't stop trying just because they're not as funny as men. It's like tennis. Are women as good as men at tennis? No. But they're still good. Sometimes. And imagine if Steffi Graff had stopped playing tennis just because she thought she wasn't as good as some bloke.  I mean.  It would be ridiculous. She would have never met Andre Agassi…

Plus, I suspect the truth is this: women aren't less funny than men at all. What we are is, Sarah Silverman aside, a bit crap at stand-up. But that's to do with the nature of stand-up. Stand-up is about fucking your entire audience in the throat, like they're 17 and it's their first-time.

Well, that's what it feels like when it works. You own that audience, and they are yours. They have their mouths wide-open, and they're making these funny, helpless choking noises, and if you're lucky they have a bit of snot and loads of tears running down their faces. And then you say something funny again. And again. And then one last time. 

The audience is your bitch.

The problem with women doing stand-up is that we don't want this feeling. We don't want the entire audience to be our 17-year-old-just-learning-how-to-deepthroat-bitch. We want, basically, for men to want to fuck us, but to accept that they can't. This what we want, and we want it every day. It makes us feel safe. And feminine.  And, you know.  Nice.

So a woman doing stand-up is fucked, basically.

Never mind, eh. We've still got Sam from Sex and the City, Bridget (from the book, not the film) Jones's mum, and Catherine Tate's nan here to comfort us. And if we get too desperate I'll secretly video my stepmum and put it on YouTube.

Published: 24 Oct 2008

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