Are Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman and Joy Behar really the best we can do?
I am of the longstanding belief that 99.99996 percent of women are inherently not funny, that their attempts at being so are more often cringe-inducing than anything, and that their contributions to most intelligent conversation evoke, at best, an awkward silence.
And while I’m not positive as to why this is, one can only make the assumption that they simply don’t have to be very interesting. Women are, at least in our society, prized for their appearance and are taught from a young age that cultivating a personality or having a sense of humor that people actively want to be around is simply not that high on our list of priorities. We’re often too afraid of looking silly or “unfeminine” and shy away from making statements that, while true, may cast us in an unflattering light. And I get that. Men are visual creatures, blah blah blah.
But even if the reasons for women being this way are somewhat legitimate, I find it painful as a woman that every time I’m on an online humor magazine like, for example, Cracked, and I see the article is by a woman—I skip over it. They’re just usually not as funny. The humor is hesitant, too self-aware, and ultimately reads aloud in your head like an excruciating female stand up comedian, all awkward pauses and insecure observations.
And as I mentioned at the beginning, the women that our society holds up as shining examples of female humor are as unfunny as they are tedious. Chelsea Handler has made a career out of making dull observations about celebrities, oversharing her salacious but ultimately predictable life as an adult frat mattress, and “cracking wise” with a group of sycophantic gays about what people were wearing that weekend. Sarah Silverman is a boring, helium voiced woman child who has taken the idea that women are afraid to be unattractive and inverted it to a point that it has lost all nuance and subtlety. She makes fart jokes because women aren’t supposed to, but I’m pretty sure the key ingredient in that formula is that the jokes themselves have to be funny. As to Joy Behar, I believe Adam Carolla summed it up better than I could ever hope to, “Saying Joy Behar is the funniest one on The View is like saying Marwan al-Shehhi was the funniest of the 9/11 hijackers.”
Is this all we’ve got?
I follow about a dozen or so women on Tumblr that I genuinely enjoy reading, that have something witty or new to say, that can occasionally expound on a topic other than drinking, men, or shopping. And I wish, WISH I could follow some more. I wish I knew where to find them. I wish reading women’s writing wasn’t so often the literary equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.
Every time I read another idiotic diatribe like “Date A Girl Who Reads” or any of the plethora of labored, uninteresting fashion blogs, I throw up in my mouth a little. Not because the writing itself is particularly bad, a lot of the time it’s fine. It’s just the fact that we as a sex seem to be at once so consumed with the trivial and resentful of our place in society. We want to be congratulated when we open a book, and will circle jerk ourselves into oblivion when someone writes something mildly witty about how smart we all are and how perfectly coiffed our bangs. We want that constant, unyielding validation. Yet we also want to be respected, treated as equals, and paid accordingly. Here’s a tip: a man can put on a suit when the occasion calls for it without dedicating all of his free time to looking at pictures of other people’s suits. Reading these girls’ writing is akin to watching a cat stare at a video of another cat. It’s a frame within a frame, an absurdest portrait of reality that has all of the context but lacks comprehension.
It’s so incredibly telling that, when given the forum, most women will idolize and quote people like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t see how choosing those specimens of humanity to put on a pedestal is any different from cooing and gushing over pictures of butterflies. Just as beautiful, just as ephemeral, just as insignificant. I like looking at aesthetically pleasing things as much as anyone, but that doesn’t mean I want to listen closely to what my lavender end table has to say. I just…don’t get it.
So I suppose if you know of a female writer who is interesting, funny, and thoughtful—send her my way. I’d love to support her.