Virtual Voices

That's not funny!

Entertainment

It has been a long hot summer already. And there's been plenty to get upset about, from the return of global warming to legal gymnastics on the Supreme Court. But if you're looking for something a little different, and you happen to be female, you could take a swipe at Adam Carolla.

Media-challenged individuals like myself will need a little prompting on who Carolla is: a radio and TV personality, a comedian, a friend and colleague of Jimmy Kimmel's, and host of "the most downloaded podcast" in web history, according to Guinness. He self-identifies as an atheist, which is perfectly fine in Hollywood, and a libertarian, which often gets him in trouble.

Carolla's latest offensive comment occurred during an interview with the New York Post, in which he claimed that women were not as funny as men. Asked if he disliked working with women, he answered, "No. But they make you hire a certain number of chicks, and they're always the least funny on the writing staff." Of course, there are exceptions: "Tina Fey, Kathy Griffin-super-funny chicks. But if you're playing the odds? No."

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Anybody could have predicted what would happen next: a Twitter-fall of chicks wracking their brains to come up with the funniest 140-character skewer of the chauvinist comic. Which may have only proved his point-why did they take his remarks so seriously? In real life, if you had any doubt whether boys are (in general) funnier than girls, any classroom teacher or mother-of-both could set you straight: They are. In addition, boys tend to be the act-outers, risk-takers, and showoffs. There may be many reasons for this, but one basic reason, in my opinion: Girls will become women who have babies. They're more serious-minded because they're destined to bring new life into the world. They tend to not take daredevil risks because they know, deep down, that their bodies need to be preserved. The risks they do take, ironically enough, usually have to do with sex.

No less an expert than Christopher Hitchens agreed. In a posthumous essay called "Women, the unfunny sex," he wrote, "For women, reproduction is, if not the only thing, certainly the main thing." And, "Men are overawed, not to say terrified, by the ability of women to produce babies."

Men combat this "unchallengeable authority" with comedy, because isn't challenging authority one of the bedrocks of humor? Even Jerry Lewis had an inkling years ago, when he was asked at a comedy arts festival who his favorite female comedians were. The answer: None. "A woman doing comedy doesn't offend me but sets me back a bit," Lewis said. "I have trouble with it. I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world." That remark cleared the room faster than a stink bomb.

Carolla, Hitchens, and Lewis all got slapped for their sexist rhetoric, and certainly they win no points for subtlety or tact. But I have a suspicion that if most men heard a female comic claim that men weren't funny, they'd laugh about it. So, lighten up, ladies.

Janie B. Cheaney
Janie B. Cheaney

Janie lives in Missouri, is a columnist for WORLD, writes novels for young adults, and is the author of the Wordsmith creative writing series. She also reviews books at RedeemedReader.com. Follow Janie on Twitter @jbcheaney.

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