Are Men Funnier than Women?

This morning I read an article titled “Men funnier than women, but only by a hair” on psypost.org. This article was based on a research study done at UC San Diego on the stereotype that men are funnier than women.  What was interesting to me about this article was that 90% of both male and female participants in the study agreed with the stereotype that men are funnier than women.  There has been much debate about this topic over the years and sometimes it can be very controversial. It is harder for women to make it in the comedy world that is often dominated by men. Most people can name plenty of male comedians but only a small handful of female comediennes because there are plenty more males than females who are making a living as a comedian.  The recent comedy “Bridesmaids” written by Kristin Wiig of Saturday Night Live was one of the first comedies written by a woman and with a predominantly female cast to have crictical acclaim and box office success.

Are men funnier than women or is is too hard for women to break down the barriers of a male dominated profession? If men are funnier than women (even if it is by a hair) what might be some reasons for that? Are men socialized from a very young age to use humor as a way to gain success and be more likable?  Another interesting point to note is that women tend to list ‘sense of humor’ as one of the top qualities that they look for when dating a man. Could that be another reason why it may be important for a man to be funny or possess a good sense of humor?  I’d welcome all thoughts on this topic in the comment section below!

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2 Responses to Are Men Funnier than Women?

  1. Robert Gordon says:

    Growing up small and mild-mannered, humor was the way I got by. By the time I hit my teens, it didn’t just get me out of fights, it got me admiration from girls. The admiration worked both ways: I always found cute girls extra attractive when they were funny.

    In my thirties, sketch comedy became a way to raise my spirits after a divorce, get onstage, make some extra money and, of course, meet cute and funny women. I can validate the biological value of being funny. Nowadays, humor helps me get out of fixes with my wife and kids.

    I’m noticing that as our culture warms up to women being funny, they are breaking entirely new ground. Think Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig (who pretty much owns SNL this season), Maya Rudolph, Cristina Applegate… They’re not afraid to take on anything. Bridesmaids (the movie Lena mentioned) must have broken half a dozen “women would never do *that* to be funny” taboos. Before that golden run of SNL where so many of the women mentioned above found traction, I thought my sisters, nieces, and daughter were the only females willing to look goofy or even hideous for the sake of a laugh.

    I notice that this has changed as well: Modern women comics don’t have to trade beauty or sexiness to be funny (though they’re willing to when the situation calls for it). Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are starring in their own top rated comedy shows–as comic and romantic leads. Cristin Wiig did so in Bridesmaids. I like to think that this is not only because women comics have grown fearless, but because men have grown to find that “funny” and “beautiful” are synergistic. Evolution?

  2. lena@imagocenterdc.com'Lena says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response, Bob! I never knew you did sketch comedy!

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