I love to laugh. I laugh at good jokes. I love bad jokes too and I have a particular soft spot for puns and dad jokes. My family and friends will attest to my habit of snorting when laughing. Attractive? No. Hillarious for others at my expense? Absolutely.
I remember the first time someone told me I was funny and I actually believed them. It was six months after my divorce and I had joined a Toastmasters class. They have what’s called tabletop discussions where you are given a topic at random and have to give a 2-minute speech off the cuff. The topic I was given was ‘living at the zoo’. As a single mom of four, this was a pretty easy topic for me. I remember the feeling of looking at the people there and seeing them laughing, seeing them smiling and knowing I had impacted that. My thoughts, my experience and the culmination of those two caused laughter in others. I loved and still love that feeling. My sense of humour is a mix of self-deprecation, brutal honesty and a penchant for smilies. For example, much like wearing a thong, acceptance is accepting some things that will forever be a pain in the ass.
In the dating world I often hear lamentations regarding women, “she’s smart and sooo funny- I don’t know why she’s having such trouble with guys.” Most guys will tell you they like funny women. They say they want to date a funny woman and spend the rest of their lives laughing together. Unfortunately, what isn’t clear is what they mean when they say “funny”.
In a study of American colleges, it was discovered that “Men viewed humour receptively as a necessity and humor production as a luxury.” (Linda Mizejewski) In other words, this study found that a man finds a woman funny when she laughs at his jokes, not necessarily when she makes the jokes.
It now made sense why in the dating world, a woman with an independent sense of humour isn’t necessarily an asset.
Being a good comedian isn’t just telling jokes, it is imbuing others with laughter. It assumes the role of a producer and not of a receiver, something women are not assumed to inhabit. Good humour is a combination of wit, independent thought, and razor-sharp reflections. That’s why it’s vital we have female comedians on the stage. To share those thoughts that are uniquely female, to make societal reflections that reflect the female experience. Otherwise, that perspective is lost and never given a voice.
I have such respect for the female comedians trailblazing their way laugh by laugh. Samantha Bee, a Canadian comedian, does just that. She is the host of Full Frontal and faces tough issues and political topics head-on. She makes room for female comedians to share the stage with candor and wit.
But perhaps more importantly, she shows women that we can make others laugh and not simply laugh at the jokes we are being told. We can produce material of our own. We can produce laughter on our own. That day when I believed for the first time I was funny was so powerful because in many ways it transformed me from a bystander to an active producer in my own life. I didn’t have to just react to the world around me, I could shape and mold that world for myself.
That’s a pretty strong message for a newly divorced mom of four, and anyone I dated would have to see that as an asset.
Emmy-nominated host of Full Frontal Samantha Bee will live Thursday, March 5, 2020, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto in Support of Canadian Women’s Foundation. Click here to get your tickets today!