Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thinking Off The Top of My Uterus

I had always thought that I quit the stand-up business because I wanted a more stable and respectable means of self-support/self-expression than spending 50 hours a week begging semi-literate promoters for a chance to ply my wit at their saloons. But according to this article in Vanity Fair, my real calling is to show my pearly horseshoe of teeth pretending to laugh at Christopher Hitchens' jokes until he falls off his barstool:
For women, reproduction is, if not the only thing, certainly the main thing. Apart from giving them a very different attitude to filth and embarrassment, it also imbues them with the kind of seriousness and solemnity at which men can only goggle....

Men are overawed, not to say terrified, by the ability of women to produce babies. (Asked by a lady intellectual to summarize the differences between the sexes, another bishop responded, "Madam, I cannot conceive.") It gives women an unchallengeable authority. And one of the earliest origins of humor that we know about is its role in the mockery of authority. Irony itself has been called "the glory of slaves." So you could argue that when men get together to be funny and do not expect women to be there, or in on the joke, they are really playing truant and implicitly conceding who is really the boss....

If I am correct about this, which I am, then the explanation for the superior funniness of men is much the same as for the inferior funniness of women. Men have to pretend, to themselves as well as to women, that they are not the servants and supplicants. Women, cunning minxes that they are, have to affect not to be the potentates....

Childbearing and rearing are the double root of all this.... As every father knows, the placenta is made up of brain cells, which migrate southward during pregnancy and take the sense of humor along with them....

There's a discussion of said article over on Althouse, with Ann leading the way:
He's trying to make me say "That's not funny" to prove his point, right? And, if I say he's pissing me off, that's just my womb making me take things seriously, right?
Yeah! It sounds like Hitch is one of those guys from third grade who think a girl with a sense of humor is somebody who's a good sport when you put something icky down her back.

Amba comments:
He sounds almost exactly like Norman Mailer a generation or two ago. The Prisoner of Sex,it may have been. Mailer basically said women didn't need brains because we had wombs, that a brain was a man's womb, or compensation for not having one, and that women would always be second-rate at creating anything with our brains because for us "reproduction is, if not the only thing, certainly the main thing."

The effect of that was to turn ambitious women, unnecessarily, against reproduction.

Hey, that's why I don't have kids!

Actually, I did feel that way about reproduction at around 16 when I first read Mailer's book, but by 15 years later I'd worked a lot of those issues out, decided guys like that were full of crap and scared of broads, and that I would darn well have a baby and be President of Show Business. I was still well within my childbearing years. Okay, can't blame Mailer.

Several people commented that it was an intelligence thing, and that women had been conditioned to hide their intelligence in order to get a guy. While it's true that many women, including me, have dumbed themselves down for some guy sometime, I've seen too many hack acts to credit the comedy field with an abundance of smarts from either gender.

I will venture forth to say that it's an anger thing, and that many women, and not a few men, have been conditioned away from anger. I mean, it's not like your mother sits you down when you're three and says, ""Now, now, Josephine, you must not express anger." It's more insidious, so that by the time you're at least provisionally an adult, you don't even recognize your anger as anger: It's you being f*cked up, you being unreasonable, you being out of control. You? You've got some nerve!

The times when my comedy wasn't working were when I hadn't gotten to the anger yet, or when I was stuck in the anger. You need to be guided by the anger, to have it behind you or under you, so that it lifts you the way a Saturn 5 rocket lifted the Apollo moon launches. And then you need the talent to guide that rocket to the moon.

Joan Rivers once wrote, "Comedy is anger, but anger is not comedy." Something that a man named Michael Richards recently found out all too well.

Bonus Round: Young comics discuss the article at jenisfamous.

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