Deleted Scenes: The Parameters Of Funny

—by , January 4, 2012

There are some men who will tell you flat-out as a blanket statement that women are not funny. I am not one of them. I think Wanda Sykes is one of the most hilarious people on the planet—every step on par with the likes of Chris Rock—and coming from me, that’s about as high praise as you can get without mention of George Carlin. I think Christina Applegate made Anchorman work, Tina Fey is a goddamn genius and Amy Poehler is so much funnier than Will Arnett (the easiest comparison point because they’re married) that it’s ridiculous. If you haven’t seen Maria Bamford’s work, it’s your loss. I am not someone who believes women can’t be funny just because they’re women.

I inform you of this more or less to cover my ass because I don’t want to appear sexist in the story I’m about to tell, which I probably will anyway. You see, my wife goes to bed early and I don’t, so I wind up watching a lot of late-night television. The other night, I was watching an episode of Comedy Central Presents that featured a young female comedian. That in itself wasn’t offensive, but you have to understand—she was hot.

And no, I don’t mean hot the way strong, independent women who’ve acquired the confidence and presence of self to overcome the bullshit around them are hot. I mean the way girls in tight jeans are hot.

Any other form of entertainment, this would be the norm. Turn on any network drama, comedy or procedural, and it’s just how it goes. All of a sudden, hard-luck police lieutenants have $600 hairstyles, and it makes sense because… well, it doesn’t make any fucking sense at all, but it’s TV, so you roll with it.

The bit I watched this woman do—and I’m sorry, it was late, I didn’t get her name—involved her talking about having sex with her male partner. She was closing with it, and to illustrate whatever point it was she was making, she bent over the requisite barstool on the stage. So here we have a hot chick, bent over a stool, talking about getting laid doggy style, making people laugh. Is this comedy?

Carol Burnett, who was unbelievably funny in her day—groundbreakingly so—once said that “comedy equals tragedy plus time,” and comedy has always been something I’ve particularly treasured. As a fat, awkward youth prior to my transition into bitter adulthood, comedy was a survival mechanism. It was how I got and kept friends, how I tricked my wife into thinking I was an actual human being. Angry as I was, I was the funny fat kid. Even in grad school, that didn’t change.

So here’s the thing, in the wake of Sarah Silverman, who’s an adorable Jewish girl saying terribly racist and often quite funny things, there’s a new league of hot-chick comedians, and watching this unfold, I can’t help but smell bullshit. If comedy is tragedy plus time, what the fuck would a hot chick know about tragedy? Really, the girl who’s bent over the barstool talking about getting fucked for a laugh has had a rough go of it? Because, absolutely, everyone knows that no one has a harder time in life than those who conform precisely to society’s deemed standards of what is sexually desirable. Goldie Hawn was on Laugh-In because her life was such a trainwreck, right?

I think about the generation of male comics making their mark today. Men like Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Eugene Mirman. These are not attractive men. No one expects George Clooney to get up and be funny. They expect Rodney Dangerfield to get up and be funny. Or Mel Brooks. Or Don Rickles. Seriously—have you seen Don Rickles? The man looks like something that crawled out of the ground in Lord Of The Rings. It’s atrocious.

So why should it be any different for women? Why should comedy for women have to involve hot chicks bent over barstools and not the equivalent of Brian Posehn talking about his pot tits or Patton Oswalt discussing how his being out of shape fascinates him in the same way Jeff Goldblum watched himself become The Fly? And what about all the actually funny female voices silenced by the spread of hot-chick pseudo-comedy? What awkward mess of a little girl is going to look at this woman bent over the barstool and say, “That could be me someday?” Who’s going to be able to survive looking at that?

I’m not saying someone can’t be attractive and be a comedian. Tina Fey is attractive. Kristen Schaal is cute as a hipster button. But they’re also weirdos—and that’s what matters. Normal, good-looking individuals should not be comedians. They should be accountants.

Hot people, you already have the rest of the world. Seriously. The entire universe revolves around your big tits, or your abs, your toned, chiseled whatevers. Congratulations on your genetics, now fuck off. And please, please, don’t ruin comedy for the rest of us. Because, for some, it’s all we have.

JJ Koczan

jj@theaquarian.com

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