Are women funny? Why are we still being asked this question?!

In Comedy, Features, London theatre, Native, Opinion, Quotes by Guest BloggersLeave a Comment

ShyGirl, a 30-something delving into the uncharted world of vlogging for the first time (and a.k.a. writer and performer Siobhan McMillan), brings her new show MIRRORS to London’s Leicester Square Theatre later this month. In her first-ever blog, exclusive to My Theatre Mates, she dissects the oft-asked question: “Are women funny?”

Having recently observed different women discussing whether women can be funny on national telly and places like Radio 4 and The Guardian, I wanted to add my own thoughts to this age-old and still clearly topical question.

So first, ask yourself, are women funny?

Short answer: YES, OF COURSE, THEY BLOODY ARE!

Too short?

I’ll embellish a bit: Why are we STILL being asked this question?

I was actually asked this myself by a real-life boyfriend (now ex), and he had this seriously thoughtful and ‘intelligent’ expression on his face as he did.

I can’t remember exactly how I dealt with that at the time – and I would handle it amazingly now obviously (!) – but I think I probably let womankind down at that point, by laughing loudly and vivaciously and cuddling up to him, all super cute and gazing longingly into his frankly hilariously funny, twinkling eyes. At which point he probably opened his legs a little wider, took over the space a bit more, and I probably crossed mine to accommodate him and said sorry for something I just did that was stupid. And I was undoubtedly really hungry too, like always.

But deep down a tiny little voice was squeaking: “Nooooo! I’m funnier than you, though!”

Apparently, ‘sense of humour’ is generally very high up the ‘what’s important to women in a love interest/husband’ scale. It was my absolute top criteria until very recently when I realised that perhaps I could be the funny one!

So back to the point: why are we still being asked whether women are funny? Why is it that, when we get into the realms of celebrity, there are more well-known funny men than there are funny women?

I’d say it’s down to availability and accessibility; who’s controlling the stage and telly. By the looks of things, there are about five men running the entire comedy industry. And they collaborate together ALL the bloody time so the female voice isn’t well represented. There’s just a thin spattering of female characters being written in comedy, and often written from the perspective of these five guys.

It’s. Just. A. Little. Bit. Dull.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, these five guys clearly don’t think that women are as funny as men… and they’re the ones with the power; the power to book gigs, shows, presenters.

Take the panel show, where most female comedians are outnumbered. From the start, the female panellist is not made to feel like she belongs and for the record, it’s SO much harder to be funny when you don’t feel like you belong.

Do the people in control really think women aren’t as funny as men? Truly?

Part of me wants to attempt to understand where these people might be coming from. Step into their shoes – identify with them, because there must be a legitimate reason they feel that way, surely!

Gosh, isn’t that quite a ‘female’ stance to take? To really step into someone else’s shoes and imagine how that must be for them and empathise. Which leads me to point out that women are STUPENDOUS listeners. It’s a skill. And I am certain that having that ability and being able to really observe life is fundamental to ‘being funny’ too!

Maybe these guys [who don’t think we’re funny] aren’t really listening properly. Or maybe they just don’t get if it’s NOT about the stuff they’re used to (I won’t suggest ‘strong, fast, loud, beer-ish and sporty’ subjects or whatever because that’d be sexist), or if it’s about the stuff they can’t relate to like make-up or periods because they’re scary or something – in their defence, there was that time when a woman got away with murdering her husband whilst in the dark and dangerous throws of PMT (actual true story).

Or are we just too gorgeous to be funny? Maybe our looks distract attention from all our jokes?

The funny women I know are amazing storytellers, listeners, speakers and performers and are SO funny, sexy, intelligent and powerful. So I suppose it must be that the certain individuals who can’t see that, must not come equipped with the necessary emotional intelligence to really ‘get them’ and identify with all the cool things they’re thinking and saying – what a shame for them. Poor souls.

I’m just thrilled that it’s obviously complete bollocks. It’s laughable and only serves to highlight the people who ask this question’s own limitations and really has nothing to do with how funny women are at all…

And that’s what I’ll say if any future ex-boyfriend asks me if women can be funny.

ShyGirl was created by writer and actor Siobhan McMillan and appears in MIRRORS running at London’s Leicester Square Theatre from 28 March to 14 April 2018. 

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Guest Bloggers on Twitter
Guest Bloggers
MyTheatreMates welcomes submissions from guest bloggers and other occasional contributors, including theatremakers commenting on aspects of their shows. Please email your suggestions to Mates co-founder Terri Paddock or submit them via our Contact Us page.