The One Debates: Are Women Funny?
Recent stars of the Durham Revue, STEF JONES and GILBERT GREGORY debate this laughable question.
It’s far from the final frontier of gender inequality, but it’s one of the most inexplicable: why aren't women considered as funny as men? With their hotly anticipated Christmas show coming up, The One chats to Stef Jones from the Durham Revue, and her trusty comedy sidekick Gilbert Gregory. After leaving the Revue this year, it’s been heard on the grapevine that Gilbert plans to start his own male elitist comedy troupe, a rumour he does little to dismiss here…
Are women as funny as men?
Stef: Yours is a question with many possible answers.
Are women funny at all?
S: Of course they are, there are lots of funny women! French and Saunders are my particular favourites – Dawn French is my comic idol! The president of The Durham Revue last year was a woman, and wrote some of our best loved sketches (Ballet most noticeably).
Female comedians have been described as ‘hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.’ Is this true?
G: Well, Stef’s hefty and dykey, and she has Schindler’s List on DVD, but she’s not funny… so no.
S: Thanks pal! Of course it isn’t true, you could say male comedians are those things too: Peter Kay, Alan Carr, Sascha Baron Cohen… It isn’t your gender that makes you funny, it’s your material. A lot of women are naturally funny.
G: To look at.
What are the main barriers to women getting into comedy?
G: The menstrual cycle.
S: Oh let me guess, it attracts bears?
G: No, it’s unhygienic.
S: Moving on, it’s probably the fact that a lot of people think women are not funny so are more likely to go and watch a male stand up than a female. Sad fact! Also female comics can easily end up only making jokes about ‘female topics’ which get old pretty quickly.
G: Like I said, the menstrual cycle.
So do female comics address anything but "bras, periods, chocolate, WeightWatchers"?
S: A lot revert to these topics for easy laughs, but if a female comedian can’t expand her material she won’t be funny long.
G: I have never watched a female comedian.
S: Well that’s not true.
G: Shut up; women should be seen and not heard.
Some say that women can’t be funny, as they aren’t willing to make themselves look ridiculous. Is this something you struggle with Stef?
G: Ha! Have you seen her?
S: Again, thanks. But no, I don’t really. In sketch comedy you have to be able to make yourself look ridiculous or you will always be cast in ‘straight’ roles. And making yourself look ridiculous is a great way to get laughs!
G: And you have a moustache so…
S: I don’t have a moustache.
G: Thank god for Gillette Fusion.
Joan River’s once said, “Men find funny women threatening. They ask me, ‘Are you going to be funny in bed?’ ” Gilbert, do you feel sexually threatened by funny women?
S: They definitely are, that’s why I’m currently single.
G: I’ve never heard anyone make jokes on Rohypnol.
S: For those who don’t know Gilbert, that is a joke.
G: What did I say to you about speaking?
S: Get your hand off my boob!
What advice would you give to any aspiring female comedians in Durham?
S: Don’t let the prejudice that women aren’t funny hold you back: we are funny! And there are loads of opportunities to perform this year, sketches or stand up, so get involved –
G: You have housework to do.
S: – and don’t try to be funny!
G: But don’t be afraid to sleep around to get ahead (call me).
Well I guess that settles it.