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Comedy express

mumbai Updated: Feb 20, 2010 02:23 IST
Sumana Ramanan

Who says women aren’t funny? Among others, a man called Christopher Hitchens.


Hitchens is who we call a “public intellectual.” Google him. He claims women aren’t funny because they don’t need to be. Men apparently like women to begin with. The opposite is not true, most men being deficient in the looks department. So as an evolutionary ploy, in order to score with women, they deploy humour as their only weapon.

He seems to think the main aim in life is to score with the opposite sex. Is he trying to say homosexuals aren’t funny? Is David Sedaris is a heterosexual in disguise?

That’s not all. He also says that men are in awe of women’s ability to produce babies. To cover up their staggering inadequacy on this front, they clown around and generally make asses of themselves. Women, on the other hand, are so weighed down by the prospect of having to nurture a new life that they forget to be jolly.

He also seems to think the main aim in a woman’s life is to produce children.
He can’t be faulted for being a feminist. But there is a woman, and a feminist one, who also implies that women are not as funny as men.

Some bimbo?

Not quite. I’m talking about Germaine Greer, who Wikipedia tells me “is an Australian-born writer, academic, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century.” Not exactly an intellectual midget.

Now what is her argument?
She claims that men are funnier because they are simultaneously superficial and competitive.

It’s a cliché that men don’t — can’t — have meaningful conversations with one another. Cracking jokes is one of the main ways they do know how to communicate when with their own kind. At the same time, they are supremely competitive. Each tries to be wittier than the other. They get a lot of practice.

I’m not convinced by either of them.
Nor am I. But I do think women are much funnier when solely in the company of other women. (Hitchens might argue that this is because they don’t want to appear smarter than the men.) I also agree with Greer that one can learn to be funny.

Please read what’s alongside this article.