Funny Girl


I’d better state right from the get-go that despite the title of this post, this subject-matter isn’t going to be wildly amusing. So that’s my disclaimer. Don’t say I didn’t warn you not to get your hopes up. But there is something that has always bothered me – and the way I see it, if it bothers me, I may as well blog about it and bother you with it too. Now is it just me? I don’t think I’m imagining things when I say society in general just doesn’t seem to see women as funny. And I have never quite understood why that should be.

I personally know a lot of extremely funny women; I’m talking doubling-over, hands supporting your stomach, tears running down your face, pain behind your ears (that may just be peculiar to me) kind of funny. And my sense of humour, if I say so myself, is pretty damned refined. No really, it is. Be the performer man or woman, I’m difficult to entertain. When I watch something new, I’m one of those irritating people who doesn’t want to enjoy it, I want my amusement to be hard-earned (I’m a harsh critic). And when I am entertained, I’m always oddly surprised. I quite enjoy when humour is a little risqué but I think there’s a fine line between that and over-the-top. I can be easily offended. And I hate slapstick. I’ve never laughed at a clown. I’m rather partial to banal comedy, but I don’t like so-odd-ball-it-makes-no-sense (I told you, I’m difficult to please). Humour is a subjective thing – and I like what I like, I guess. But I have always gravitated towards witty women; they are the people I choose to be friends with – all my friends are funny. So why doesn’t this wit that I see in my everyday life seem to be often conveyed in popular media, books, stage, TV or movies?

If I’m honest, just like the rest of society, I’m at fault too. I have NEVER paid to see a female stand-up comedian. I’ve paid good money to see a fair few male stand-ups in my time, but never women. And I wonder why this is. There used to be some funny British female stand-ups in the 90s; French and Saunders (at their peak), Jo Brand (at her peak) but they dwindled away and never seemed to be replaced by anyone terribly funny. Oh, I’m a big fan of Ellen Degeneres but she’s not considered stand-up anymore and we don’t get to see enough of her in the UK. I don’t know – perhaps there are some hilarious new comediennes out there that just don’t get the coverage and the attention of their male counterparts. Perhaps stand-up itself is a dying art. But the female stand-ups I see on TV nowadays don’t really make me laugh. Their humour always appears to be centred around the very fact that they are women. But half the population of the world is female so that just isn’t niche-comedy, is it? You can’t make me laugh just by talking about periods and PMT or having children. Women are capable of lots of other things too that don’t involve their genitalia or ability to reproduce. But male comics don’t seem to rely quite so heavily on their gender to create humour. I need humour to be a little more complex than what sex you are. But I’ll say it again, I know countless funny women in real life so why doesn’t that regularly transfer? Maybe women just don’t make great stand-ups. Or like I say, maybe we just don’t get to see them.

I have to admit, TV is improving as far as humorous women are concerned – particularly in the US. Two of my favourite shows are ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘Modern Family’. And they are probably my particular favourites because the stand-out characters in each show are the women. Leslie Knope as the hard-working, neurotic politician/public servant and Gloria Pritchett as the feisty Columbian second-wife. It seems at last the screen-writers are learning how to write for women. They don’t just have to be the sexy girlfriend or the long-suffering mother. Women can be just like you and me, just like the women we know in real life; quick-witted, sassy, quirky – funny. Movies are getting better too, but the funny girl is all too often a supporting role like Fat Amy in ‘Pitch Perfect’ or Megan from ‘Bridesmaids’. And I’d rather see the female-clown play the starring role. So yes, things are changing, but far too little and far too slowly for my liking.

I like to consider myself as vaguely amusing (I could be wrong but I continue to delude myself and that works for me). If there’s a joke to be had, I will do my level best to be the first one to the punch-line. Okay, to be fair, I am the last person in the world who could do stand-up (although I do regret not doing a speech at my wedding, but I had too much on my plate to pile that on top of my list of things to do that day. And a wedding speech is the closest most of us will ever get to doing ‘stand-up’). I feel my humour is better suited to writing and the use of words on a page anyway. I like to think I write in a jocular manner in my blogs and the lead female protagonist in my book is supposed to be witty (if I didn’t miss my mark). But perhaps I am simply kidding myself. My children once described myself and my husband in an offhand comment – I was the kind one and he was the funny one. But I want to be the funny one! Yeah, yeah, Daddy is funny (I guess) when he tricks you by saying, ‘look over there’ and steals the sausage off your plate when you’re not looking. But comedy doesn’t always have to be as in-your-face as that. Okay, being the kind one is great and all, but I can do humour too…sometimes. Mine is just perhaps a more acquired taste…

Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive, over-thinking this – and perhaps it doesn’t matter as much as I make out. But I would just rather my two daughters grow up being surrounded by funny women – in real life and in the popular media. I want them to know that their humour (and my kids are hilarious) doesn’t have to be dumbed-down or buried for men when they grow up. It’s okay for women to be funny. I personally think we do it better than men; we’re more subtle. Things are certainly improving and there will come a day when I won’t need to rant about inequalities such as these anymore – let’s just hope it’s in my lifetime. You know, I really ought to have ended this post with an amusing punchline – it’s just a shame I don’t have one (b-boom-tish!) That’ll have to do…

15 thoughts on “Funny Girl

  1. You’re not just stating a phenomenon in comedy. I was watching a show explaining the women in country music. It’s not really my thing, but radio stations don’t play many female country stars because women will change the channel. They just don’t relate, and the difference between being a number one station and a number four station is the amount of women artists they play, and it has been proven over and over again.
    It appears to be a thing with politics too, because women (from what I have seen) get really frustrated with a woman who is full of crap a lot faster than they do a man who is full of crap. It’s probably not fair but it just seems to happen that way. BTW, I happen to think you have a very nice sense of humor, JSYK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thanks Julie! OMG – I don’t even remember how that impression goes. I wish I did, I like to repeat anything that people once find funny over and over again until they eventually want to kill me. You may have to film yourself doing an impression of my impression and put it on Facebook…or something… x


  2. You need to get out more, Jack. I know a lot of funny women – just as funny as men. All I’m saying in my post is that you don’t get to see them on TV. You can’t generalise like that about half the population of the world…


  3. I think women are funny, there have been many times women have brought me to tears, and made me laugh so hard my sides hurt. However, Jeremy Crow is right: women don’t like women. My wife would rather watch male standup than female standup any day of the week, but when she listens to a female comedian she relates. I don’t get it, but I’m not paid to. It is a matter of taste.

    BTW I’m sorry I was so delayed in posting this. I’ve been a little distracted as of late.

    Liked by 1 person

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