Gender in comedy
December 8, 2010 Leave a comment
After reading an article on The Guardian website about the Morgana Show which is currently showing on Channel 4, the debate of funny women once again reared up. From what I’ve seen from different blogs, TV reviews, Twitter and Facebook statuses (the epitome of gathering feedback to anything that is currently going on) it has been getting a generally good response. This may be down to the scheduling and that The Morgana Show can sparkle after the absolutely dreadful Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights but this is not what many choose to focus on as yet again it’s a case of “can a woman actually be as funny as a male comic?”.
In my opinion yes they can as some of my favourite comics are women. Any episode of QI is immediately improved for me when I hear Jo Brand is appearing and quite rightfully, Ruth Jones has been getting the publicity and the praise she so much deserves for her fantastic writing, especially in Gavin and Stacey with James Corden but also her great comic acting in Nighty Night and the sadly much overlooked The Great Outdoors which was shown on BBC4 earlier this year.
A few years ago for my A-level English coursework, I was analysing the stand up acts of four comics; Jo Brand, Jo Caulfield, Lee Evans and Jimmy Carr. All four are funny, there is no disputing that as you watch how the audience responds but out of those four I think most would say that Jimmy Carr or Lee Evans are the funniest. As I was researching for the coursework, I came across a book that was attempted to explain why audiences generally find men funnier and suggested it was down to their build and general gender stereotypes. During the research for this coursework, I discovered an argument that we are programmed to find men funnier, due to how men generally look and also gender stereotypes.
It seems bizarre that in a society where women are mostly treated the same as men, given the same respect and more often now the same opportunities that we cannot accept that a woman can be funny without criticising them for turning their back on how a woman should behave. If a female comic makes a joke about their children, many feel uncomfortable but it is perfectly acceptable for a male comic to do a character assassination of each member of their family.
Hopefully one day comedy will be able to be solely judged on whether it is funny rather than rather than the gender of a woman.