Excerpt from Christopher Hitchens' piece forthcoming in Vanity Fair:
Why Women Aren't Funny
by Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair, January 2007
Be your gender what it may, you will certainly have heard the following from a female friend who is enumerating the charms of a new (male) squeeze: "He's really quite cute, and he's kind to my friends, and he knows all kinds of stuff, and he's so funny ? " (If you yourself are a guy, and you know the man in question, you will often have said to yourself, "Funny? He wouldn't know a joke if it came served on a bed of lettuce with sauce béarnaise.")
However, there is something that you absolutely never hear from a male friend who is hymning his latest (female) love interest: "She's a real honey, has a life of her own -- [interlude for attributes that are none of your business] -- and, man, does she ever make 'em laugh."
Now, why is this? Why is it the case?, I mean. Why are women, who have the
whole male world at their mercy, not funny? Please do not pretend not to
know what I am talking about.
All right--try it the other way (as the bishop said to the barmaid). Why are men, taken on average and as a whole, funnier than women? Well, for one thing, they had damn well better be. The chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex, and Mother Nature (as we laughingly call her) is not so kind to men. In fact, she equips many fellows with very little armament for the struggle. An average man has just one, outside chance: he had better be able to make the lady laugh. Making them laugh has been one of the crucial preoccupations of my life. If you can stimulate her to laughter?
I am talking about that real, out-loud, head-back, mouth-open-to-expose-the-full-horseshoe-of-lovely-teeth, involuntary, full, and deep-throated mirth; the kind that is accompanied by a shocked surprise and a slight (no, make that a loud) peal of delight?well, then, you have at least caused her to loosen up and to change her expression. I shall not elaborate further....
As the bishop said to the barmaid? Yikes.
(Nod to KL....who asks, "Does this mean a woman can't be President?" It might, K, it might. But then George Bush is not often funny INTENTIONALLY.)