Since we originally ran this essay when we had no readers, we are going to try it now.
Eat Shit Hitch
by Molly Lambert
“Hey world. Women aren’t funny.”
Slower to get it, more pleased when they do, and swift to locate the unfunny—for this we need the Stanford University School of Medicine? And remember, this is women when confronted with humor. Is it any wonder that they are backward in generating it?
— Christopher Hitchens
Dear Vanity Fair,
It has come to my attention that your columnist Christopher Hitchens had some thoughts on the previously proven (scientifically, no doubt) claim that women are not funny. This came as a shock to me, a woman, as I have been carrying on for a number of years now under the incorrect supposition that I am hilarious. However I will redact my behavior and make an effort now that I know Mr. Hitchens‘ firm stand on the subject. Far be it from me to attack the fault-ridden logic of a man who with his first cry was pronounced a ‘dry British wit’ the day he was born into his parents’ cave.
Perhaps it had not occurred to Mr. Hitchens that a large number of women, behavior to the contrary, don’t happen to think men are particularly funny, and have had to tolerate their feeble attempts at humor for centuries in an effort to advance their financial statuses by flattering the egos of men in higher stations. Anyone who’s ever had a job knows that everyone is expected to laugh at the boss’s joke, regardless of how funny it may actually be.
But of course leave it to Mr. Hitchens to assume that his own narcissistic viewpoint is an objective one, discounting any notions of white male privilege that cling to his narrow understanding of humor. I’m sure he thinks P.G. Wodehouse is very droll, yet somehow I wonder how many Richard Pryor albums he owns.
In my twenty three phallically impaired years on this earth I’ve seen women say and do some of the most funniest things I’ve witnessed in my life. Now, perhaps it is because of the secretive nature of women’s rituals that men aren’t aware of the jokes that are going over their heads. Believe me, there are plenty of things that are funny about blood coming out of your vagina once a month.
Furthermore male humor, with its emphasis on physicality and fart jokes, wouldn’t seem very appealing to a person as erudite as Mr. Hitchens. One would think he would prefer the high archness of writers like Gertrude Stein and George Sand.
The idea that women are less comic because their lives are sadder and more serious because of childbirth is maybe the funniest things in Mr. Hitchens‘s entire column. You’d have to have a sense of humor, maybe a dark one, to tolerate life after being beaten, molested, or raped. The phrase “laugh to keep from crying” comes to mind.
Besides, all women do have more synapses related to language than men and more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain, so it’s no wonder they’re sharper with words than their male counterparts.
I imagine Mr. Hitchens doesn’t find jokes about bad mothering to be funny because his saintly mother instilled in him a sense of maternal reverence so intense that he still worships fervently every night at the altar of her decaying cunt.
Or perhaps it’s because we’ve been forced into competition with one another and subjected to unfair standards of beauty and behavior that we’ve developed such a different, subtler sense of humor. Rape jokes sure are a lot funnier when a woman is telling them. Maybe Mr. Hitchens should review his Sex and the City box set for examples of this kind of feminine humor and wonder why it is that all his lady friends find jokes about penis size hilarious, while they make men uncomfortable.
And while jokes about the male body are often played for laughs (Nacho Libre or Borat working with our anxieties about male vanity and its hairy testicular truths) men are seemingly not as comfortable yet laughing at hideous women, dismissing instantly the notion of a female character that they are not interested in sleeping with (I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the Amy Sedaris character Jerri Blank dismissed in this fashion).
For a lot of men to be interested in finding a woman funny, they first want her to be hot. This accounts for the amount of press given to Sarah Silverman, who is genuinely funny, but aware that the coverage comes primarily courtesy of her rack. One ray of hope is the ABC show Ugly Betty which gives us a character who is not so much ugly as cute, but has proven a favorite with young women interested in a new archetype of female nerd.
For Mr. Hitchens to say women aren’t funny is as if he were to say that Chinese humor isn’t funny. To Mr. Hitchens, it probably isn’t, but I’m sure the Chinese would disagree. Just because something isn’t funny to Mr. Hitchens doesn’t mean it isn’t funny. The joke may just be lost on him because it’s at his expense.
Molly Lambert is a senior contributor at this recording. She lives in Echo Park, California.
The only thing I now disagree with about this is Molly’s slam on P.G. Wodehouse. Now that dude is funny.