For the True Hollywood Reporter's Comedy Issue, writer/director Paul Feig took the age old, tired argument that women aren't funny and turned it on its head by positing that maybe it's men who are the not-so-hilarious ones after all. Of course, the charm and wit of the piece prove his own argument wrong, but, hey, that's just satire being good satire.
If anyone would know how funny women can be, it's A.) any person who's not a limited, unreasonable dickbag and B.) Feig, who was the director of Bridesmaids (starring comedy champs Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy and written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) and creator of the short lived (though much beloved) tv show Freaks and Geeks. Of all the characters on Freaks and Geeks, Feig has always said that it was Lindsay Weir (played by Linda Cardellini) who he related to most and that's saying something. Lindsay — a bookish, empathetic high school student looking to find her place in a crowd of burnouts — is one of the most sensitively written, three dimensional teenage girls to have ever appeared on television. It should come no surprise that her creator would be thoughtful and well-rounded himself.
Realistically, I could devote countless paragraphs to gushing about Paul Feig, but I'll restrain myself and instead pull some choice excerpts from his THR piece "Why Men Aren't Funny."
[Men] loudly amuse themselves by hurling insults and epithets — the words "dick," "balls" and "ass" being the etymological anchors of their attacks — all for the express purpose of making one another laugh. They seem to be having such a great time that you'd feel like a monster alerting them to this one unfortunate fact: Men just aren't funny.
Oh, sure, there are men who truly make us laugh. None come to mind at the moment, but I know history has provided us with a few. Euripides was sort of a jokester. English poet John Donne got off a corker every once in a while. But in general, the male species' sense of humor seldom rises above the enjoyment of watching one of their own take a swift shot to the testicles.
It makes sense. Men are genetically programmed to hunt and gather. It is they who must impregnate the herd and protect the collective. And so it's only logical that their brains would need to possess lower humor standards in order to pass the hours entertainingly with their cohorts while stalking that night's dinner or standing guard against the enemy. Imagine if they had to amuse their fellow warriors with jokes and banter that were actually funny. That impossibly high standard would leave them in such despair that they would become easy prey.
Feig's evolutionary argument for humor is directly mocking the sincere argument used by the late Christopher Hitchens in his infamous Vanity Fair essay "Why Women Aren't Funny."
The Hitch writes:
Why are men, taken on average and as a whole, funnier than women? Well, for one thing, they had damn well better be. The chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex, and Mother Nature (as we laughingly call her) is not so kind to men. In fact, she equips many fellows with very little armament for the struggle. An average man has just one, outside chance: he had better be able to make the lady laugh.
...The explanation for the superior funniness of men is much the same as for the inferior funniness of women. Men have to pretend, to themselves as well as to women, that they are not the servants and supplicants. Women, cunning minxes that they are, have to affect not to be the potentates. This is the unspoken compromise. H. L. Mencken described as "the greatest single discovery ever made by man" the realization "that babies have human fathers, and are not put into their mother's bodies by the gods."
Hitchens' argument is ridiculous as it takes several things for granted (that women are consistently neck deep offers for cock and that we never enjoy toilet humor are just two examples), but that's old hat. We're not here to rant about Hitchens, we're here to celebrate Feig! Back to his essay:
And so nature has provided humankind with two biological safeguards: 1) an intellectual anomaly that allows males to believe that they and their friends are funny, and 2) a survival instinct that impels women to laugh at men's jokes. As long as the men feel good about themselves, no matter how delusionary those feelings may be, the tribe will continue to function.
Haha, it's funny because the fake one written by Feig sounds almost exactly like the real one written by a human whiskey sponge. See, Hitchens? Women can laugh at their own pain.
Image via Getty.