When angry British drunk Christopher Hitchens wrote his seminal "Why Women Aren't Funny" article in Vanity Fair last year, lots of people got upset. Mostly girls. Milking the manufactured outrage like the publishing geniuses they are, the magazine has finally had a woman take a full shot at refuting the thesis [VF]. Unfortunately, they picked Alessandra Stanley, who proves (not for the first time) that she has not one single drop of humor diluting the estrogen and errors that flow through her veins. So on the second day of the cooing and hubbub over the new Girl Power piece (it took us an extra day just to get through it, ha), it's worth pointing out the unspoken truth in all this catfighting: women will never be as funny as men to men. And men run everything.
First, let's not waste too much time establishing the fact that Alessandra Stanley was such a bad choice to write this rebuttal piece that it makes you wonder if it was Hitchens that selected her. Hey style is ponderous; she is overlong in her explanations of obvious matters; and she approaches the issue as a topic for serious socio-cultural investigation, rather than an opportunity to crack jokes and talk shit. Which is what was called for. Stanley seems to believe that Hitchens can be refuted through logic, rather than by waiting until he's drunk, then videotaping a woman slapping him around and grabbing his balls until he screams, then putting that video on YouTube.
That's where you're wrong, Alessandra Stanley.
It's not clear whether Stanley is just a boring writer herself, or if she embodies some inherent un-funny quality in all women. But it doesn't matter what the truth is, because anyone looking for evidence to support their bias will hold up her article as a shining example of why women can't hack it.
There is obviously a difference between witty writers (Mme. de Staël, Nora Ephron, Fran Lebowitz) and stand-up comics. Stand-up comedy was always harder for women, because it is aggressive—comedians have to dominate their audiences and "kill," by common metaphor. Male listeners might make allowances for sparkling repartee—which is, after all, instinctive and responsive and manslaughter at the very worst. But a premeditated joke or routine can be murderous in the first degree.
Women either had to compete—head-on, in the aggressive style of Paula Poundstone or Lisa Lampanelli—or subvert the form and make themselves offbeat and likable, the way that Whoopi Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres do. As Elaine May used to say regarding improv, "When in doubt, seduce." By and large, however, stand-up comedy is tougher and meaner, and the women who do it play by men's rules.
Yo, what? I was bored after the first sentence. See, that's how men are: bored, by Alessandra Stanley. Also maybe some other women humorists. The problem they have is they often talk about things that women can relate to—relationships with men, babies, periods, shopping, love. As a man, I can't relate to all that. That puts women comics at a distinct disadvantage when trying to win over me and my fellow men. This is obvious day, right here.
"But wait!" you protest, femininely. "Hitchens said women just aren't funny, not that men just couldn't relate to our humor." Dude, what? While you were making that argument, I was thinking about how cool it is that Hitchens supposedly smokes in the shower. Chris Hitchens is a brilliant, repugnant slob of a man, and any argument he makes should be taken as one from a male point of view. For him to say that women aren't funny is for him to say that they're not funny to him, a man. Everything else is just purposeful goading, which is a key element of male humor. Arguments to the contrary will probably get ignored, because that's what men do: ignore arguments to the contrary. That's why we have civilization, and wars.
So ladies, it would behoove you to just keep on concentrating on establishing your rightful share of power in the world, rather than trying to convince men that your comedians and whatnot are funny. Once you run as much of the media as we do, it'll be a moot point.