October 2009

He Says, She Says: Who’s Funnier? Men or Women?

Author: Keith Kelson & Jean Wharton

Men are funnier than women. They have to be in order to survive on this big blue marble called earth. Despite what you’ve seen on those nature programs talking about Darwinism and “survival of the fittest,” the men who managed to survive and thrive tended to be the men who had a very good sense of humor. Does this mean that Bob Newhart would wipe the floor with Genghis Khan? Well, not in a sword fight obviously, but you can never be sure. Bob’s a lefty, if I’m not mistaken, and he might have given old Genghis a run for his money. But when you talk about survival, what it means is that women are hard-wired biologically to respond to a man who has a sense of humor.

Anywhere you find a thriving viable society, you will find a good number of men who will be able to send you into convulsions of laughter as they riddle you with stories, tales, fables and outright jokes. A man not only has to be able to sell himself as a viable suitor, the woman also has to be entertained. Even if you’re a guy who looks like a matinee idol, you will still have to be able to supply some witty repartee at some point during the evening. Indeed, the long-term survival of the species depends on the ability of men to be witty.

There are no guarantees in life unless you count death and taxes. Hey, that’s not only wise, but it’s pretty funny. I wonder if a man said that? Maybe I should Google it, but I’m pretty sure a dude came up with those wise words.

A world filled with humorless men is a bleak and desolate place, filled with grief and sadness. The ancient Egyptians described this place in stone carvings and with one word: Ohio. I’m kidding of course, but you have to admit that the whole concept of a guy sitting in a pyramid, surrounded by a desert, talking about a place of desolation called Ohio is funny. Don’t forget that most comedians from the state of Ohio just aren’t funny, and one in particular has managed to ruin The Price is Right. Bring back Bob Barker!

Women of course, don’t have to be as witty and charming. Thanks to Mother Nature they have a different role to play. Women by nature are supposed to be the ones getting approached by men. Remember that women choose men based on their viability as suitors, and that suitor must be able to keep that woman entertained. If a man has a date with a woman and is unable to make her smile more than once during the night, you can bet your last dollar there will not be a second date. Women will cite a lack of chemistry or sparks, but what they’re really saying is, “That dude wasn’t funny.”

So, it stands to reason that women are naturally not as funny as men. Mother Nature figured that women don’t need to be funny to shoot some guy down and reject him. That would be cruel, and Mother Nature isn’t cruel. The bored blank stare from a woman is enough to send most men running for the hills. If you add to the mix the ability to dissect a dude with the acerbic wit of Chris Rock, you can see the havoc that would be unleashed.

Women just need to be cute and interesting to be able to attract men. So ladies, be your fascinating selves and you will land a man—eventually. Just remember that the world’s largest manmade lake is no longer Lake Nasser in Egypt, and you should be getting swarmed with men. Men dig chicks who know where the large manmade lakes are, you know. Just be cute and interesting. Leave the funny business to the men.

Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, also decided that women didn’t need the organ that’s responsible for being funny. In laymen’s terms, most refer to this organ as the “Funny Bone.” This small organ is located right next to the appendix in most men. That’s why when you see a professional comedian and he’s barely funny, you can bet that he’s had his appendix removed. He’ll still be able to hoodwink plenty of Hollywood types into letting him star in a number of movies and MTV specials, like that Pauley Shore guy.

So, if you had a battle of the sexes, male comedians should easily beat female comediennes. Heck, the average guy off the street should be able to beat a female comedienne once he gets his timing down and the ability to read an audience’s reaction to his material. Now, of course, the more famous female comediennes might win one or two battles based on popularity and name recognition, but you can’t fight Mother Nature. Eventually the men would just prove to be too much. We’re funnier by nature because it’s a survival mechanism for us.

Don’t blame me; blame Mother Nature. Most men know the agony of defeat when it comes to approaching women. Trust me, you don’t want to see what it’s like if we didn’t have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Most women could not take more than three rejections during a calendar year. That’s one night at any watering hole on the island for most men. If you’re not getting shot down, you’re not trying hard enough.

Plus, you have to admit that it’s funny when you realize that the reason most women aren’t funny is because Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor.

This is a loaded question if I’ve ever heard one. Ordinarily, I relish in the “He Says/She Says” subjects that challenge our views of the modern relationship and gender roles, question our established positions on a topic and encourage readers to debate amongst themselves. But this topic is more than a bit subjective and may, in fact, be the most controversial.

Before discussing who is funny, you have to define funny. Google the word “funny” and find 61,200,000 references. Clearly, we all have a different definition, and I don’t think it’s up to us what makes us laugh. I could make list of things that I think are funny, but what makes one person laugh could make another person scowl. Humor is an intensely personal interpretation, based on individual experiences, history and DNA, but can hardly be summed up based on gender.

This is supposed to be funny, right? Well, I often like to over-analyze a topic until its beaten-down dead. And in fact, some people think over analytical ramblings are funny. Ever laugh at Jerry Seinfeld, Wood Allen, or Larry David?

Now I’ve named three male comedians, but that does not mean I think the entire male gender is any funnier than us women. I think Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes and Gilda Radner are all hysterical (not to mention my mom and plenty of girlfriends). I do think that men place a high degree of importance on being considered funny. Guys are always trying to make a girl laugh or out-wit their comrades (mostly to impress said girl). Women often list “funny” as one of the traits of their perfect match, and it seems that men are constantly trying to live up to their expectations.

Which leads us right back to my original statement: it doesn’t matter who is funny but what the person doing the laughing, giggling and smiling thinks is funny. I’ve come across lots of guys that were touted as being funny only to find them vulgar, rude or annoying. One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. I’m sure there are girls who aren’t offended by sexist and racist jokes or annoyed by self-indulgent stories, but I’m not one of them.

There have been countless times in my life when I have laughed until I cried, but if you asked me to explain exactly why that is or share a specific story, I don’t think that I’d be able to articulate coherent examples. We’ve all had giggle fits at inopportune moments for reasons unknown, even to ourselves. Even babies grin, giggle and laugh for unknown reasons, and anyone who has ever tried to make a baby react the same way twice will attest that it is nearly impossible. This is the same reason why many comedians are either habitually depressed, grumpy or substance abusers (see the three previously stated sardonic, sarcastic male comedians).

There are thousands of ways doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, yoga instructors, religious leaders and others are using laughter to treat patients and explore higher level thinking. Laughter is shown to reduce stress, help with concentration, relax muscles and perk the immune system.

Indian laughter researcher, Dr. Madan Kataria, dubbed the “Giggling Guru” by
The London Times says, “When you laugh, you change, and when you change, the whole world changes around you.” Dr. Kataria has inspired thousands of laughter clubs around the world, wherein people gather to practice yoga, mediate and laugh.

This begs the question, if laughter feels good and is good for you, does it really matter WHO is making you laugh? I’m sure you were expecting I’d have some witty musings about why women are funny or why men are funnier, but I simply can’t maintain such a sweeping, biased generalization about which gender is funnier. Men make me laugh, women make me laugh and dogs make me laugh. It’s as simple and complicated as that.

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