Thursday 21 November 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'Men funnier than women? A good gag doesn't care about gender'

Joan Rivers (Yui Mok/PA)
Joan Rivers (Yui Mok/PA)

Just when you think you're out, another survey is released and you're dragged right back in again.

A new study has come out from Aberystwyth University in Wales which claims to have answered the most burning question of them all.

No, it's nothing to do with the afterlife, or aliens, or even which is the One True Faith.

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This is even more controversial and more likely to cause ructions - they claim that they have found incontrovertible proof that men are, after all, funnier than women.

In a blind test involving 5,000 gags and a hundred volunteers, it emerged that even women preferred the jokes made by men.

There are several conclusions we can reach.

The first conclusion is a grudging admiration for any academic who is prepared to venture into such sensitive territory.

But the other, more serious conclusion is a simple one - which women, and which men?

I've been going to comedy gigs since I was a kid and the only people I have ever heard claim that women aren't funny are the kind of people who have never been to a show.

Joan Rivers? Gilda Radner? Wanda Sykes? Susie Essman?

I would have included Sarah Silverman in the list of great comedians but she, along with most of the other American stand-ups of all genders has become so deranged by Trump that it's no longer funny, it's just weird and sad to watch her flailing about, jabbering like a lunatic and having a breakdown.

Funny is as funny does and a good gag doesn't care about gender.

But there is a threat to comedy at the moment and it's not the apparent paucity of decent female stand-ups.

Nope, it has more to do with the fact that comedians are no longer expected to mock society, they are now expected to improve it.

The woke culture has seen a rise of what is proudly called 'anti-comedy', where people like the bafflingly popular Hannah Gadsby now seem more interested in applause than laughter.

Not surprisingly, plenty of female comedians took issue with the survey. Yet one of them, Marina Bye, showed exactly what is wrong with a lot of contemporary stand-up when she said the study was "ignorant... they should have done something more progressive instead".

Here's a free tip - when a comic uses the word 'progressive', you can assume that they're bloody awful...

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