Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Funny

On the Facebook, my friend Christina Majaski posted up a question: Why are men funnier than women? There were all kinds of interesting responses, and it got me thinking about “funny”. What *is* funny? Why is funny so different for each of us? Is it possible to say something that everyone thinks is funny? Also, there seem to be levels of funny. Some things are worth an occasional “Ha!” or snicker, while others have us doubled-up and snotting because we are laughing so hard. Weird.

So, in keeping with the original topic, a question is begged: Are men in fact funnier than women? I know there are a lot more men comedians who make it big than women comedians, and I know that at your average social gathering, men seem to say funnier things more often. But, does that necessarily mean they are funnier? Because “funny” is so subjective, let’s look at a few things folks think are funny.

People falling down are always funny. Heck, people falling down kept “America’s Funniest Home Videos” afloat for years. But, people falling down isn’t in fact funny at all, when you think about it. Folks get hurt, folks get embarrassed, folks get frustrated, their clothes become ruined. So, why do we laugh when people fall down? Because, I’m convinced, in order to be truly “funny”, the thing has to be not funny at all. I think men are more in touch with that side of things than women.

Some people think that racial and pedophile jokes are funny. Hey, let’s admit it: some of them are. But, is racial cruelty or hurting children funny, in any way? Nope. I’m sure we all remember the “dead baby” jokes from grade school. “What’s red and bubbly and scratches at the window?” “I dunno, what?” “Baby in a microwave!” Now, I don’t know about you but that isn’t funny. Not really. Only, when said in joke form, it becomes hilarious. Maybe it’s the delivery that separates the sexes when it comes to funny. My mom thought that the bear on the Snuggles fabric softener commercials was funny. I think Leslie Nielson was funny.

Eddie Murphy is considered very funny by a large portion of the population. He’s crass, he swears a lot, and he jokes about things that really aren’t funny like hairy aunts and drunken barbeques gone horribly wrong. Bill Cosby made us laugh at misbehaving children and the dentist office, and Robin Williams makes abusing drugs and alcohol a funny thing. Clearly, none of those things are funny. So what gives?

In the end, I’m convinced that funny doesn’t exist. Funny is a defense mechanism we have adapted to deal with the really bad things in life. It seems that the real good comedians joke about the worst stuff. Women comedians tend to make “cutsie” jokes about innocent things like toilet paper and Tupperware. A man doesn’t find that funny. A man thinks a fart in church or showing someone his ass is funny. Go figure.


Christina said...

Okay well this post was funny as hell.

I hate to say it but men are always funnier than women which is why I asked. If you check your FB feed, anything funny is by a man. Anything depressing is usually by a woman. Sorry, that's just fact.

I read somewhere that funny is when something occurs that is not expected--so your examples of things that shouldn't be funny but are, pretty much backs that up.

Read the blog posts. Even the women who say they are funny, aren't really funny to me. I've determined that it has to do with our ovaries.

SJerZGirl said...

Have you heard some of the current female comedians?? WOW! But, you're right - funny is in the eye of the beholder, for sure. I certainly do remember the dead baby jokes as well as the "do you know what's gross?" jokes. Good job!

RJR said...

Whats red and green a spins very fast ?
Kermit in a liquidizer !

I wonder if women are to, kind considerate and thoughtful to laugh at the things men do ?


Adelle said...

Lisa Lampanelli...nothing "cutsie" about her!

Theresa Wiza said...

Having grown up with only sisters, I was curious to see how boys were. My sister had two sons and I had one. At one point, after our divorces, we lived together. What we discovered was this: little boys will laugh uproariously at bodily functions. For them, farts were particularly hilarious. But you're right, humor is subjective.

Anonymous said...

For many years, I wrote five newspaper columns a week, many of them humorous. The funniest ones were often about my husband and his friends, who provide great material without even trying. They were definitely the funny ones, but I got the credit because I told the stories.

Marie Anne said...

'Funny' is all about timing and delivery. Two people could relate the same joke or funny story and one might have the crowd rolling with laughter while the benefactors of the second performance might sit there and say 'huh'?

Langley said...

Yeah, I think funny is subjective. I'm not into slapstick but a dry wit gets me every time.

Kyra Lennon said...

Interesting post!

Humour is definitely something which is specific to individual tastes. I have no shame in admitting that I have quite a "teenage" sense of humour. I find movies like American Pie absolutely hilarious *lol*

Derek Odom said...

Hehe, thanks Kyra! My sense of humor stopped maturing at about 9 yrs old I think. Farts are the gift that keeps on giving! :)

Theresa Leschmann said...

Loved the post Derek. can't say I find the same things funny that most men seem to but I agree that men seem to have a better idea of what is funny.