Every festival a hoky piece of 3nd rate journalism pokes its head out of the bum hole of the media and drunkenly waltzes with the question “are men funnier than women?” Chortles recent puffy article takes the same short sighted perspective.
A fluffy statistical breakdown of the star ratings given by the site is headlined “MEN ARE FUNNIER THAN WOMEN”. As per the notably thin figures, why, with this wobbly analysis as its basis, did they choose to take this angle? There is no debate, there is no issue, to continue to frame it as such is unforgivably erosive.
There are more male comics than female comics. This is arguably the primary factor behind the depressingly commonly held belief that women are not as funny as men. Let me make my argument concerning only three of the results of this fact.
Firstly, we are exposed to a great many more men’s work and so the mode average of funny men is higher.
Another effect of more men working is that it has gender biased the causal audience over time. Eg, historically we started laughing at male stand-ups and are therefore exposed to more male stand-ups as the media provides us with more of what we know. Comedy’s biggest audience “dip in and out” and are understandably unaware of extent of work that is out there and so the thin sliver that is what they see, compounds the gender separation in the popular consciousness. Those with the least knowledge have the greatest power.
Lastly, this difference affects new comics coming up. It makes it less attractive to start a career in comedy if, became of your gender, you are by default grouped as a genre. I would argue also that for this reason contests such as Funny Women are contributing to a problem they ostensible set out to address.
So almost impossible as it is, even if you could reasonably accurately express as a percentage funny folk by gender, the result would not tell the whole story.
The sooner we break down these simplistic perceptions, the quicker we can ensure that performer’s feel able to employ the full creative licence that stand-up affords them.
This is not a feminist stance, It is my strongly held belief and I feel is crucial to the advancement of a funny business that i take very seriously. It would not serve my point to list the various successes of my female colleagues, but, to quote Sarah Pascoe, “Without warning or preparation, I could list the names of funny women, and be still be going ten times as long as you can hold your breath.”