Ladies, Please Stop Laughing at Our Unfunny Jokes
According to a study conducted by the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (some light reading for your lunchtime break), men and women possess the same ability to create funny things (in this case, New Yorker cartoon captions). What's interesting to note is that the funny captions were more likely to be perceived as coming from a man rather than a woman.
In other words, if a man and a woman tell an identical joke the man is more likely to get a laugh, even from women. Ladies, you have got to stop this.
Women will often cite a sense of humour as the single most desirable trait in a partner (high school girls may say the same thing, but my own teenage research showed that being funny is less important than a 'valid driver’s license' and 'lack of braces'... NOT THAT I’M STILL BITTER).
But, there’s always been a key disconnect between how men and women define 'sense of humour.' Women tend to see it in men as 'his ability to make me laugh,' while men see it in women as ‘her ability to laugh at my jokes.' At the risk of fulfilling the stereotype, I’d say that having a sense of humour means how readily someone will 'get' a joke, because being funny already has a phrase and it’s ‘being funny’.
Semantics aside, I think a lot of women will laugh at something a man says that they don’t find particularly funny out of fear of appearing humourless. This gives undue encouragement to all the painfully unfunny dudes out there. And if I’m being honest, I’m terrified that I’m one of these guys. How am I supposed to know if these are actual hilarious bon mots I’m dropping? My laugh-to-attempt ratio isn’t perfect (lifetime average hovering around .370), but I do consider myself a fairly funny person. How much of that view is warped by me being a man?
Of course, the study isn’t perfect. It relies on people writing funny New Yorker cartoon captions, a feat that’s apparently impossible even for those who’s job it is to write funny New Yorker cartoon captions. But, I think it speaks to something we’ve all witnessed in our lives. I’ve seen a woman at a party tell a funny joke that dies a slow death, only to have it repeated at a greater volume by a dude to big laughs. Let’s start working towards a gender-blind humour feedback system (a trademark of Paul Beer Enterprises). If only so I can figure out how funny I actually am.
Paul Beer is a Toronto writer, actor and comedian.You can follow him on twitter @pauldanielbeer.
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