Don't make me laugh

It's not just men who think women aren't funny.
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The Independent Culture
ACCORDING TO a new survey, women aren't funny. Who says so? Women. Three out of four said that men had the better sense of humour, and nine out of 10 men agreed with them. One in five women voted her husband or boyfriend the funniest person she knew, while only one man in 11 had the same opinion about his ladyfriend, and he meant funny-peculiar. Lesbians simply asked the researcher what he thought he was looking at, and walked off.

Women aren't funny, and even if they are, laughing at them feels morally wrong. If Roberto Benigni had been Roberta, he wouldn't have got an Oscar, he'd have got spayed. But because this Coco The Over-tactile Clown is a man, he got away with climbing over his chair like a orangutan with an erection. Hell, he even won a prize.

Gwyneth Paltrow only cried, and she was written off by one female columnist as "vile", "revolting" and "smelling of fish, probably". All right, so I made the last one up, but it was there between the lines. We don't want demonstrative women any more than we want fat chicks.

Inconveniently, demonstrativeness, the cardinal sin of look-at-me confidence, is the key to humour. And women aren't trained for humour, they're trained for dignity. They are trained to stand mutely, being adored, not clawing for laughs. And if teenage girls weren't two-faced, twisty Chuppa Chups sluts, under My Perfect Career they wouldn't write "rocket scientist" or "lovely nursie", they'd put "muse".

As anyone that's ever suggested wages for housewives knows, being laughed at ruins your dignity. Women, like the moustache-bleaching cowards they are, don't want to be laughed at; that's not what they spend a fortune in Karen Millen for. Not on purpose, anyway.

No, at best, women want to be laughed with. Hence the desperate, matey humour that female stand-ups trade in, the "Have you ever noticed, girls, how, when you're swimming the English Channel with your History teacher and you have your period...". To which the correct heckle is: "No. You are alone in your experience as you will be alone all your life, you hideous, unfunny witch."

There are two kinds of female humour. "Spunky", as in Jenny Eclair and Jo Brand, and "Well observed", as in sub-Victoria Wood and French and Saunders. Don't ever watch a female comedy show described as "Spunky". It means Like A Man But Not Funny. Don't ever watch a female comedy show described as "Well Observed". It means Not Funny Full Stop.

Women aren't funny. The exception that proves the rule is the all-women show Smack The Pony. I know, I worked on it. I say exception because when people say "It's funny", they sound alarmed, knowing women were involved.

Media evidence suggests women just don't like laughing. Men's magazines fill out photo-investigations of large-breasted naked women entirely from a comedy perspective, from standards like Why Top Models Put Out For Runty Blokes to Ten Ways To Rape An Already Dead Prostitute. Women's magazines, however, dourly try to cheer up their spreads of small-breasted naked women with articles on Cancer Faced Child Brides of Azerbajan, and Why You'll Die Looking Worse Than Your Mother.

Personally I read Loaded, even if I suspect it is printed on the dried nipples of dead prostitutes. Luckily this is a British condition. American women are funny: Rhea Perlman, Jennifer Aniston, Joan Rivers. Two thirds of the British women questioned preferred Absolutely Fabulous to Frasier and Friends. Of course they did, they haven't got a sense of humour. In fact, British women liked Absolutely Fabulous because they thought it was a documentary about clothes. And by series three, it was.