Sunday, 29 January 2012

not quite so funny?

some anonymous person just posted a link to this clip on my blog, which i thought deserved to be shared more widely. it an interview with josie long about the discrimination she faces as a woman comedian:

i always find the "women aren't as funny as men" line quite telling. it's possibly because men are quite happy to laugh at male comics denigrating women, talking about their wives as irrational jailers who stop men from enjoying life at all. or any of the other sexist stuff that is supposed to be hilarious. but suddenly it isn't funny if a woman is doing something similar about men. they're not laughing so hard when it's their own foibles pushed out in nasty stereotypes for the entertainment of everyone.

surely if they find the one funny, they should find the other just as hilarious? but watching the audience reactions to female comics, the men are still laughing when the women talk about weight issues or how bitchy/slutty other women are, but quite a few barely manage a smile when she dares to turn her attention on to men.

so perhaps it isn't that the women aren't as funny, it's just that the man making that complaint just doesn't know how to laugh at jokes about his own demographic? could it be that this guy just needs to get a sense of humour?? or the better option is that they stop tolerating nasting shit about women that isn't actually all that funny either.


Maia said...

Thanks for this. It's an amazing video and I love Josie Long.

I've been thinking about this a lot, as I've paid a lot more attention to British comedy over hte past year (which is why I've heard of Josie Long). And it's amazing how entrenched and acceptable the sexism is.

I think another side of this - both in cause and effect is this article about the rise of the rape joke.

I can't even imagine what it's like to have dreams in an environment where people with power tell rape jokes as part of their job (I may be sheltered when it comes to employment). And what creating a misogynist environment like that does to women who are trying to do comedy. One of the things I love is how Josie Long discusses hte micro-aggressions and the effect that they have had on her.

(And don't even get me started about how Sarah Millican routinue which is described as consensual role play gets lumped in with Jimmy Carr's crap. I haven't seen Sarah Millican's stuff - it may be terrible - but the way they describe it is apalling).

Anyway I think it's awesome that amazing younger feminist comedians like Josie Long are naming the misogyny they see - and amazing older feminist comedians like Jo Brand have kept fighting for all these years.

Kim Mcbreen said...

It just isn't funny to expose power, ay. We can mock those with less power, because that's objectively funny, but to mock those with more power? Why that's turning comedy into a soapbox.

Besides, etiquette tells us that a man with a good sense of humour makes you laugh, whereas a woman with a good sense of humour laughs at your jokes. Ergo, can't have women comedians--it's just rude.

A guy said...

"male comics denigrating women, talking about their wives as irrational jailers who stop men from enjoying life at all. or any of the other sexist stuff that is supposed to be hilarious."

Could you link me to some Irish/British video examples of this please? I'm wondering if this is a lot more prevalent than I've noticed. The only thing that comes to mind is Jack Dee's killer line on QI. Then there are the subculture cicuit comedians like Bernard Manning who aren't generally considered funny. The notion that female comedians aren't funny compared to male ones is about as prevalent I reckon as the notion that American comedians aren't as funny as British/Irish ones*.

*American/British as defined by their primary audiences- So Ricky Gervais would be American and Rich Hall would be British.

Of the comedians I know of, there are only three that I think are genuinely funny. Sandi Toksvig and Sue Perkins along with Josie Long, although I don't like her stand up that much; She's very witty in other formats though. Then there are a number that have funny routines or jokes. Most though I find annoying (as I do with the men who just have routines and opposed to genuine humour).

Proportionately, (funny comedians out of the number of visible comedians) I'd say there are more funny women, even with just 3). But why are there so few visible female comedians to start with? Either there is an institutional weeding out of female comedians or there just aren't that many to begin with.

In general life, I find women are far less self-effacing than men. Also, do women try to make their female friends laugh? When my male mates and I talk, there'll be frequent quips - a pun, a self mock, an insult, an observation, an impression, slapstick - anything a means to get a chuckle. Not that we're funny, but we try and it's as involutary as breathing. As a recent example, I deliberatley tripped myself quite exaggeratedly to time with a loud noise - unplanned slapstick and got a chuckle, which then enabled more attempts at humour from my mate. If this holds true in a wider sense, then men get practice at being funny (even if almost all of us are not funny).

Talking with my female friends however tends to be more conversational rather than meaningless banter. Even when I do drop in an attempt at humour - they don't then build on it or run with it. So out of curiouslty, do women have have something similar with themselves - where they make each other laugh?

A guy said...

@Kim Mcbreen

Mocking people with more power may be soapboxy, but that can certainly be funny to some people. (David Mitchell comes to mind, not to mention Stewart Lee). Mocking people with less power is bullying. Which can also be funny to some people.

it's just rude.
There's gotta be a comedy act in that somewhere. A lot of comedy is built on challenging etiquette.