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Mar 06

Who’s funnier – Men or Women?

It seems that whenever newspapers run out of stories, or need something to fill a couple of pages, they drag up the can women be funny debate. This time though it’s being tied into International Women’s Day which takes place this Sunday.

This time the debate appeared in Wednesday’s Metro. Personally, I am finding the debate incredibly dull because I thought we all knew the answer?The answer is…

it depends on which funny people we’re talking about. Some men are funnier that some women. But there are also some women that are funnier than some men.

Some people say that the secret lies in the fact that men don’t care about making themselves look unattractive, but women always feel the need to look pretty. People use this to mean that women cannot be as funny.

The problem arises, I think because of men’s insecurity. Women being funny can almost be seen as being threatening. In daily life men and women use humour differently. Countless surveys say that women find men with a sense of humour attractive, whereas this isn’t necessarily true in reverse.

The base creatures that we are mean that men go for looks, rather than intangible things like personality or charisma. Of course I’m generalising wildly here.

It has also been suggested that if a women IS funny she cannot be attractive as well. Some quarters would point to Jo Brand as being in this category.

Here are a four of my favourite women that I personally find funny in no particular order:

Jennifer Saunders – I admire her when she works with comedy partner Dawn French (I was lucky enough to see their final tour)  but I don’t tend to laugh out loud. That’s key. However, in Saunders’ solo project, Absolutely Fabulous, I laughed out loud.

Sarah Silverman– I have laughed out loud more from her stand-up than her show the Sarah Silverman Program. I am also taking into consideration that she didn’t exactly set London alight last year with material that most of her fans had heard before.

Leslie Mann– Also known as Mrs. Judd Apatow she turned in some brilliantly funny performances in the likes of Knocked Up and 40-Year Old Virgin. You have to see the movies as I cannot do them justice here.

Susie Essmen – the foul-mouthed wife of Jeff Greene in Curb Your Enthusiasm. I have lost count of the number of times that I have laughed out loud. Apparently she has developed a “side career” whereby people walk up to her in the street and ask her to swear at them. She gladly obliges.

There are countless other funny women that I admire but have not made me laugh out loud, that’s the key factor for me. You can smile and nod and appreciate a performance all you like, but that doesn’t make what you’re watching funny. For me those include Tina Fey, Victoria Wood, Ellen DeGeneres,  Isla Fisher and Lily Tomlin come to mind, I just don’t recall being made to laugh.

Other funny women, that don’t particularly appeal to my sense of humour include Lucille Ball, Roseanne and Joan Rivers. Then there are those that are clearly funny (because they’re working and winning awards) that I have never seen perform such as Laura Salon, Lucy Porter, Joanna Neary , Shazia Mirza and Shappi Khorsandi, etc.

That doesn’t mean to say that none of them are funny. If you just go back over some of the names I’ve written about you’ll not only see some long careers, but also a whole clutch of awards; BAFTAs, Tony’s, Grammys etc.

It’s a topic that always gets re-debated. Check out this Vanity Fair aricle which says women aren’t funny.

It also seems that Scientists occasionally weigh in on the subject. Why waste time working on the world’s diseases when you can experiment on deep philosophical questions like whether women are funny or not, eh? Australian journalist and feminist Germaine Greer even chipped in with an article in The Guardian.

And so the debate goes on…