We regret to inform you that we are not funny.
Christopher Hitchens (who many skeptics may know from his excellent book Missionary Position) begins his most recent article in Vanity Fair by pointing to the fact that countless women name “sense of humor” as a desirable trait in the opposite sex, while one rarely if ever hears a man describe a new love interest with “man, does she ever make ’em laugh.” He uses this observation as a way to spur us to ask ourselves, “Yes, that’s so true — why aren’t women funny?” It doesn’t take a team of researchers to discover the gap that lies between reality and observation, let alone the gap between the observation and the conclusion it supposedly inspired. By the same logic, one might ponder why the bulk of the male gender is no good at oral sex, since men rave about such a talent in women with little of the same when the situation is reversed. In the spirit of Mr. Hitchen’s article, I think I’ll write a paper on it and submit it not as “Are men terrible at oral sex?” but “Why are men terrible at oral sex?” Let’s ignore the sad fact that there probably are a good number of men who could benefit from such an article and forge ahead.
What other differences does one see in the traits admired by men versus women, and what conclusions can we draw? One that immediately springs to mind is the common male exclamation that a particular female “sure has a great rack,” a comment rarely heard from females. We can extrapolate from this that men do not have desirable thoracic regions at all, a discovery that unfortunately may bring financial ruin to the sexy fireman calendar industry.*
We can similarly deduce that women make absolutely awful parental figures. Why, you ask? I recently overheard a female aquaintence relate that the man with whom she was involved would “be a great father one day” to her as-yet unborn children. While I have often heard males comment upon their girlfriend or wife’s superior ability to mate, I have never witnessed one of the men claiming that his partner would “sure squeeze out a baby like a pro and raise him or her in a responsible and loving manner.” Therefore, we can assume that men have developed an innate ability to become a successful parent, while women pathetically fail to grasp even the most fundamental aspects of birthing and nurturing a child.
To get back to the original article, all of this is not to say that Mr. Hitchen’s assertion is not based in reality. Despite his fallacious anecdotal evidence, his lack of supporting evidence, and his out-of-left-field conclusion, I regret to inform my readers that he is in fact absolutely correct — women just are not funny. I estimate that in my lifetime to date, I have met and interacted with approximately 15,000 women. Of these, I can only recall the names of approximately 28 who made me laugh. (By “laugh,” it should be noted, I’m referring to a spontaneous emission and not the forced “uh-heh” we sometimes affect to save the feelings of unfunny women [and the occasional unfunny man, rarely found in nature].) This results in less than .2% of the female population that might be considered humorous, a paltry amount by any standard. Therefore, while I appreciate Mr. Hitchens bringing this to light, I am disturbed by the fact that he offers no real solutions to the problem. It takes little talent to point out a problem — the real challenge lies in affecting change.
It is with this in mind that I implore directly on behalf of all women: please, Mr. Hitchens. Please help us be funny. I humbly await instruction.
Thanks to Jeff Wagg for the link to the article.
*The Skepdude calendar, of course, will remain marketable thanks to an emphasis on more cerebral aspects in addition to tasty chests.