Author Mary Pettibone Poole rightly said – “He who laughs lasts”. When we read this quote, the image that comes to our minds is that of a man laughing at a joke made by another man, funny isn’t it? Why don’t we picture a man laughing at a joke made by a woman?
Right, because it is hardly ever possible for a man to find a woman’s sense of humor funny. So, contradicting the quote by Mary Pettibone, I’d like to say that “He who laughs, lasts but only when it is SHE who is making him laugh.”
Comedy is not just about laughs, but analytically speaking it is a full-scale rebellion, a weapon to destroy even the most powerful rather than appeasing them.” A good sense of humor simply doesn’t make people laugh but also exhibits high intelligence and reasoning.
Living in a patriarchal world, we’re taught that these characteristics aren’t generally associated with a woman but a man. Men are driven by biology where as women are driven by emotion.Additionally, when a woman is smart and bold, she’s termed as a snob and when she’s not so, called a naïve or a bimbo. This is also reflected in the relationship realm. Men are conditioned with “hassi toh phasi” and women with “you’re supposed to laugh at his jokes”. Men want women who “dumb-down”, hang on to his arms or words and look pretty above everything else.
Now when I look at the stand-up industry as a whole, I often visualise it as a room overcrowded by men and see a few women pushed to a corner, suffocated by the misogyny and masculinity. Of course failed humor is unattractive, no matter the gender but studies show that men and women, both are more likely to laugh at jokes made by a man than a woman, therefore the above statement about us living and practising patriarchy is proven. American author Fran Lebowitz said: “The cultural value of humor is male, a woman saying a man is funny is equivalent to a man saying a woman is pretty.”
Contemporary society does not want girls to think of themselves as funny, and when they do, they often punish them. Boys start to initiate humor more frequently than girls as early as six years old. We haven’t worked out sexism yet, but we understand that comedy is what boys do and girls laugh at. Getting clever is being smart and getting the bully down in the playground.
Contrastingly millennials are changing these norms – “Women’s humor is part of the revolution” since funny women create a language of their own. Humor is a way to help a woman liberate herself, talking about post-pregnancy bodies, awkward sex and their vulnerable position in society. Clapping back at the sexist jerks and also embracing the qualities the society wants them to apologize for & make adjustments.
When women wield the weapon of humor effectively, the world has no defense. The truth about comedy is that we don’t have to change ourselves to be funny, we just have to be who we are. “The thing that people tease you about or that you’re self-conscious about or you wish you more or less of – that’s your funny.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Riddhi Dhamanwala, our intern.