Friday, September 18, 2009

Birds, Bees And Tee-Hees

Pocket Goddess, Lucy PorterThe funniest comedians are physically unattractive. Discuss.

We were talking about comedians at work this week and being a shallow lot the discussion quickly moved on from merely which ones we thought were funny to those we thought were attractive. And it quickly became apparent – certainly from the males – that if they found a female comedienne attractive they tended not to find her very funny. But this was OK. This lack of comedy skill was forgiven totally provided there was the redeeming presence of a nice face, or nice tits, or a nice arse. Eye candy made up for all the comedy shortcomings.

And yet those comedians we (the men) deemed to be masters of laughter were all unanimously declared – by male and female alike – to be Hound Headed Troglodytes From Planet Ugly.

Or at the very least Plain Janes and Joe Averages.

Such a judgment seemed rather sweeping.

And it got me to thinking. Is it true across the board?

On the face of it, it seems to be. A quick example: I think Frankie Boyle and David Mitchell are the funniest things on the comedy circuit period. Witty, sharp, intelligent and frequently thought provoking. Everything I could desire in a comedian. But attractive? To anybody?

Surely not (though some of you may prove me wrong). Frankie Boyle by his own admission looks like one of The Proclaimers (which isn’t a good look even for a corpse) and David Mitchell is, well, er, very funny.

As for comediennes I find attractive, Lucy Porter would be top of my list. Petite, brunette, curvy, vaguely elfin in an early Kate Bush kind of way... she’s hot hot hot. I like watching her.

But she doesn’t make me laugh. Much. She raises the occasional smile and something else but that’s about all.

Jo Brand, however, I think is much funnier and well, there you go. Argument proved.

Or is it?

I think the possible explanation for this rather sexist dissection of who is good and who is not good at comedy is centered around gender politics in a different way. Being heterosexual I don’t, by and large, find other blokes attractive. Sorry, I just don’t. Instead I seek out other admirable traits in men. Intelligence, wit, a certain coolness, etc. As for women, well, I know what I like and I gravitate towards it.

But women’s humour is just different from men’s. Stand-up comedy isn’t as broad as people think. It’s the old French & Saunders thing. Women (mostly) found them very funny while us men (mostly) just didn’t get the joke. Because it was from a strong female perspective. It just wasn’t meant or pitched for us.

Is the converse true though? Do women not get bloke jokes?

Plainly they do. So are male comedians pitching their gags to a more universal audience while female comediennes pitch theirs to a stronger female demographic?

I’m confused. Maybe there is no clearly defined right or wrong answer.

It was interesting to note, however, that some of my female colleagues found Frankie Boyle and co. not only “not funny” but also not very attractive as well. They lost out on both counts.

How funny.

I guess there’s no accounting for taste.

But as long as everybody is happy and getting their laughter injections somewhere, does any of it really matter?


22 comments:

Nota Bene said...

You're so shallow...mind you that Shappi Khorsandi is a corker. Just not funny.....

Steve said...

Nota Bene: I'm as shallow as a mirror merely to reflect the moods of the nation...

P.S. Josie Lawrence floats my boat as well...

Deirdre said...

my husband thinks lisa tarbuck is very sexy and funny...and I can see why...but most female comediennes are very self depreciating ..think Joan Rivers, Jo Brand, Jenny Eclair... so perhaps they send out messages to the male folk not to find them sexy?

Gypsy said...

What an interesting discussion. We have a very funny comedienne in Oz who recently lost a great deal of weight. She was previously a bit on the large side and used her size as part of her humour. A lot of people wondered if she'd still be as funny now that she's slimmer. You may remember her as Sharon in our version of Kath and Kim (if that ever made it to British shores) or even as the farmer's wife in Babe. (Magda Szubanski).

Petite, curvy brunettes are definitely hot ;)

Steve said...

Deirdre: I would definitely concur with your husband regarding Lisa Tarbuck. My wife has a theory that part of the problem is that for women, a good sense of humour in a partner, is a priority, while it is less so for a man. Instead a man wants a partner who find him funny... hence any female comedienne he finds attractive cannot be admitted to be funnier than him because he is the funniest of all. I think that's the gist of it anyway!

Gypsy: Karen and I are huge Kath & Kim fans (though are frustrated at the time it takes for the new stuff to reach the UK) so know Magda Szubanski well. The big question is: is she still as funny?

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Now I find Jo Brand hilarious but I don’t find many women comedians make me laugh. Humour is in the bones and as a Glaswegian I find when I pop home for a visit that even a wee man in a bunnet can come out with a hilarious comment. I never liked French and Saunders’ comedy but they are fantastic comedic actors, I just never got them on the skits they did. I love Frankie Boyle et al on Mock the Week but as for looks? Myself and girlfriends have talked about this subject and what we find is that fantastic humour can get ugly guys a bonk no matter how they look. Well within reason really. Laugher is such a tonic in a sometimes dreary world and we all turn to it like a sunflower following the sun just to make life a little lighter. I mean look at Tommy Cooper, a face like a caricature of a real person but my God, I would have walked over hot coals to get at least a hug out of him! Great blog by the way and you have a great writing style.

skatey katie said...

ohk, have had half a bottle of blackcurranty vino. and am fixing the typos of every second word. BD is at the pub watching the rugby and the kiddos and i are watching GREASE.
*words swimming in front of eyes*
hi. X

Steve said...

MOB: be most welcome here - thank you for dropping in; hope you'll return. I think your point of view backs up my wifes - women find a sense of humour an essenital ingredient in a man's attractiveness and can overlook his physical shortcomings if he is sufficiently funny... whereas us blokes are far more two dimensional and go for looks first and, second, want a woman who finds us funny. Hey. I think I've finally susses how this "birds and the bees" thing works! It's only taken me 40 years!

Kate: LMAO. Sounds like a great bottle of plonk... hope you don't pay for it later! ;-)

Gypsy said...

I haven't seen Magda in her usual type of role since she lost the weight so I guess time will tell. At the moment she is hosting a show here but it's not quite the same thing. At any rate she looks great and I'm sure she will be a lot healthier.

Steve said...

Gypsy: thanks for the update - I think we got up to about series 4 of K&K and then there were rumours of a film that hasn't yet materialized - well, not here anyway...

French Fancy said...

You've raised a lot of good points about the difference between men and women - in more ways than one. Isn't it funny how some people can laugh at a comedian (nne) whilst others are left cold. I like Victoria Wood, Julie Walters and French & Saunders - Mr FF cannot stand any of them. He simply will not watch anything of theirs. Even if they were stunningly beautiful specimens of femininity he would not find them appealing or amusing.

We both however really rate Mr Gervais. Have you seen the film 'Ghost Town' - it is very good - not deep or profound but sad and funny.

The Sagittarian said...

Here's the thing, Julian Clary is both wrapped up in one but not everyone likes him either! I like Jo Brand, I find a lot of our wimminfolk unfunny - maybe I prefer to get my laughs outta the men? Great post, food for thought as usual! :-)

Steve said...

FF: I haven't seen Ghost Town yet I must admit. Karen and I both find Gervais very funny but aren't sure we like him as a persoh... Karen certainly doesn't fancy him that's for sure!

Amanda: You've hit on another brand of humour entirely - camp and gay humour. Again not to everyone's taste but personally I find Clary very funny.

Selina Kingston said...

As soon as a guy makes me laugh, I find him attractive. I mean, proper sexy! I really understand the possibility of being laughed into bed. I met James Corden recently at a work thing and that little twinkle in his eye as he watched me laughing at something he said was a real turn on!
Also, when I was at school, I wasn't particularly attractive - all gangly with metal braces and greasy hair so I used humour to make everyone laugh with my various impressions and stories. It didn't make me the boys fancy me butit made me one of the "popular girs" ! Even now, I love it when people laugh at something I say. Come to think of it though, are they laughing with me or AT me......

Steve said...

Selina: I'm sure they're laughing with you...! ;-)

As for me, it's always a massive confidence boost when a girl finds something I say funny (provided I mean it to be funny, of course) but you need to be confident to be funny to begin with. At school I was both ugly and shy and therefore not very funny at all... it's much better to be one thing or the other rather than neither!

Valerie said...

I never rate female comics. Usually they look awful and somehow (to me) come across as trashy. I wonder if comedy is a cover-up, like the unhappy clown.

Steve said...

Valerie: I think it might just be that it's a very male dominated business and "pretty-pretty" girls don't as a rule make it... though I think Lucy Porter is definitely "pretty-pretty"!

KAZ said...

I suppose girls who may be perceived as unattractive have behaved differently from the beauties for most of their lives. Humour may be in their bag of tricks to get the attention they want.
So they hone their skills and become successful comedians from an early age.
I'm amazed no one has mentioned Victoria Wood - fabulous.

KAZ said...

OOps - sorry French Fancy!

Owen said...

Have you ventured into the realms of Mars and Venus for understanding differences in perceptions between the sexes ? In any case, about your last sentence / question :

"But as long as everybody is happy and getting their laughter injections somewhere, does any of it really matter?"

I would tend to agree with you, it probably doesn't matter, as long as everybody is getting some sort of injections at regular intervals, happiness is a possibility, it's when the injections stop that the trouble starts...

PS I neither funny nor attractive, so I'm not qualified to comment here...
;-)

A Write Blog said...

I think that some people go into comedy to compensate for being less attractive; they've got to find a way to appeal. Also a funny looking face/expression is going to lend itself to making people laugh; think Tommy Cooper

As fo women's humour being different from that of men I think a good comedian crosses the gender thing; Joan Rivers, Jo Brand do in my view.

The problem with some women who go into comedy is that they sometimes come over as anti-men in order to sound cool to other women. A sort of female mysoginism (There is a word for this but it escapes me). It's like those 'jokes' you sometimes see; 'How many men does it take to change a light bulb' etc. No-one would dare produce a joke like that about women and rightly so; they aren't very funny. But it is still socially acceptable for women to do that about men and the poorer comediennes fall back on it.

Steve said...

Kaz: this is certainly true of boys but it's interesting to note the effect it has on the opposite gender. Men it seems appear more attractive for being funny while women appear kooky - great to hang around with but it doesn't necessarily make them attractive. This isn't a comment on the women but the shallowness of men who tend to be very visually driven.

Owen: I'm not qualified for exactly the same reasons but have at least qualification that allows me to comment and spout forth my opinions: I'm arrogant enough to believe people are interested to hear them. ;-)

AWB: I agree - which goes back to my argument of most female stand-ups pitching their humour solely to a female perspective thus alienating the men. There used to be a lot of men who did the opposite of course in the 70's and early 80's - Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning, etc. They weren't funny either (if you were an intelligent viewer) and thankfully they have been wiped from our TV screens like the snots they are.