October 18, 2007, - 12:51 pm

Shocker: Even Effeminate Brits Say Men Funny, Women Not

By Debbie Schlussel
I can’t think of a single female comedian. Yes, there are plenty of women who call themselves “comediennes” or comedians or stand-up comics. But none of them are funny. Not a single one.
Rosie O’Donnell. Not funny. Fun to laugh at her, but, still, not funny. Ellen Degeneres. Gay and man-like, but not funny. Crying on national TV about giving up a dog in violation of a contract with a dog shelter. Definitely not funny. Loud, obnoxious New York Yenta Joy Behar on ABC’s “The View.” Sorry, no laughs. Just sad. Whoopie Goldberg? Even the stupid fake name ain’t funny. Name any well-known female comedienne. Not funny, not funny, not funny.


Churchill Was Funny; Julia Louis-Dreyfus Comes Close

The only one who even comes close, in my mind, is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. And that was only as Elaine on “Seinfeld.” And that was because her lines were written by . . . men. And on that show, she was basically one of the guys–their female alter ego. On “Saturday Night Live,” she was never funny, and on her new show on CBS, she’s not funny. Joan Rivers sometimes comes close to being funny. Or used to. But that’s about it.
That said, it’s not really a shocker that even the effeminate, girlie-manish Brits say that men are funny/witty, women not so. So says a survey by British Comedy TV Channel “Dave”, in which the top-10 list is exclusively male. The only woman that came close as a top wit was #12, Margaret Thatcher. Oscar Wilde was #1. One of my faves, Winston Churchill came in 5th and the article recounts one of his best lines:

Accused by a female MP of being drunk, the wartime premier is said to have replied: “Madam, you are ugly. But in the morning I will be sober.”

I also like the one, where he’s told by a woman at a party that if she were his wife she’d poison his drink. He responds, “If I were your husband, I would drink it.”
Here’s the one they cite from Thatcher–good, but not even close:

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.

That’s not funny, so much as witty.
British feminists are up in arms, including writer Emily Dugan of The Independent who names her female top ten, none of whom are funny, and many of whom are dead. Jane Austen? HUH?! She’s not funny. A good writer, but she’s depressing. Or was. Virginia Woolf–funny? Hello . . .? Some Muslim chick named Shazia Mirza? These days, if you’re Muslim and call yourself a comedian, every PC-freak in the nation pretends you’re funny. But you’re not.
Bottom line: Women “comedian/ennes/whatever”–not funny. Just the way it is.
Who do you think is funny in America (living or dead)?

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44 Responses

A somewhat unusual candidate, Victor Buono –
“I am not overweight, I am underheight. My weight is perfect for a man of seven feet three inches.”

John Anderson on October 18, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Randi Rhodes is funny in the same way that Hillary Clinton is funny. They are so obnoxious and parrot-like that they make me want to laugh instead of cry.

Bill Petty on October 18, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Although I have only seen her in a few YouTube skits, Anjelah Johnson seems to be doing a good job with both topic and delivery.

orwoody on October 18, 2007 at 12:38 pm

I kind of agree that women are not all that funny, however Shazia Mirza is funnier than most.
I saw her live a couple of years ago, and she was quite good. The opening line of her stand-up routine was..
“Hi, I’m Shazia Mirza or at least that’s what it says on my Pilot’s licence” (!)
She also does a routine about how much she likes the Burqha.
“I love the Burqha, there are five women in my family and we can all share the same buss-pass.”
As I say, not hysterically funny, but she’s funnier than most of the crappy stand-ups you see these days.

No Pasaran! on October 18, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Hmmm … most liberals are unintentionally funny and certainly good to laugh at.
For good ‘ol regular comedy, my personal favorite is Rodney Dangerfield.
“My psychiatrist told me I was crazy, I said, ‘Hey doc, I want a second opinion.’ He said, ‘All right, you’re ugly too.'”

pdigaudio on October 18, 2007 at 12:41 pm

BET occasionally has a few female african-american comedians on their stand-up shows who are funny…although the comedy is usually vulgar if that bothers you.

melchloboo on October 18, 2007 at 12:55 pm

well, I go in for crude humor and in that regard I find Sarah Silverman to be pretty damn funny as well as Chelsea Handler, and I’ve even seen a few funny joke babes on Last Comic Standing, but you’re right, it is a pretty rare to have a real comic talent that is a woman.

smga3000 on October 18, 2007 at 1:04 pm

ANITA RENFROE http://www.jibjab.com/player/main.swf?jid=183394 , and from way back . . .Carol Burnett & Lucille Ball.

justamomof4 on October 18, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Hmm, I never thought of that before.
JLDreyfus – you’re too easy on her. She is just not funny, she’s dull, bland.
Paula Poundstone – half of her routine nowadays is talking about her alcoholism.
Margaret Cho – a friend (a man) who did stand-up said he once had billing with, had terrible things to say about her….
Goldie Hawn, Laugh-In and Private Benjamin – not funny.
Penny Marshall, Laverne & Shirley and on The Odd Couple – FUNNY.
Rhea Perlman, Cheers – FUNNY.
Sarah Silverman – usually FUNNY.
Oh, and I always liked Joan Rivers.

Jeremiah on October 18, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Easily number one is Lucille Ball.
Sheesh, don’t discount the oldies people!

Digger on October 18, 2007 at 1:18 pm

I hate stand-up. It’s like a bunch of tone-deaf people going to an opera and saying ‘I could do that.’ Most of them can’t but they can’t hear the difference. There were only two who were really great: Richard Prior and Mort Sahl. Neither of them made you fall down laughing; they were better than that. Only woman stand-up I ever saw who was even halfway funny was Marsha Warfield, who actually was pretty good.
Like Digger says, you gotta credit old-school too. Lucille Ball was hilarious in the sitcom format. Same goes for Jack Benny on the radio. The brilliant Ernie Kovacs and Sid Cesar in early television. Buddy Hackett in clubs. Mel Brooks as a film maker. And, of course, the screen’s greatest comedic genius, Peter Sellars.

John West on October 18, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Let’s go “old school”. How about Lucille Ball, Moms Mabley, and Carol Burnett? I thought all three were hilarious!

JibberJabber on October 18, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Judy Tenuta is pretty good
Norm McDonald is the best, Steven Wright, Emo Phillips, Sam Kinison were good.

steve ventry on October 18, 2007 at 1:56 pm

I saw Tammy Pescotelli at a club recently and thought she was very funny

irishguy on October 18, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Wanda Sykes? Tina Fey? That’s about it, I think. :-\

Dairenn on October 18, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Lucille Ball, no question.
No one has mentioned Madeline Kahn!
Eddie Izzard too.

Crimsonfisted on October 18, 2007 at 2:45 pm

Rita Rudner is funny – and I love Dawn French (the Vicar of Dibley), but she’s a Brit.
No one makes me laugh out loud any more, like back in the 60s and 70s. Steve Martin used to be pretty funny and Martin Mull, too.

Sioux on October 18, 2007 at 3:29 pm

‘Accused by a female MP of being drunk, the wartime premier is said to have replied: “Madam, you are ugly. But in the morning I will be sober.”
I also like the one, where he’s told by a woman at a party that if she were his wife she’d poison his drink. He responds, “If I were your husband, I would drink it.”‘
Whether Churchill actually had these exchanges is debated, but the target of them was supposedly Nancy Astor, a notorious anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer.

ibn Abu on October 18, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Tammy Pescatelli, Chelsea Handler, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders (even though they’re Brits). Amy Sedaris. The women on Reno911. Rosie, Ellen, Yenta– NO!

lexi on October 18, 2007 at 4:27 pm

I think Bonnie Hunt’s hilarious. I wish we saw more of her.

Numenorean on October 18, 2007 at 4:39 pm

I think Wendy Liebman is very funny.

JoePa on October 18, 2007 at 5:39 pm

I’ll have to put in a vote for SNL’s Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. They are both very versatile and I usually get a good laugh out of them. But all time would have to be Lucille Ball- hands down…

MarySJ on October 18, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Dennis Miller – funny
Richard Jeni – was funny but now he’s dead
John Belushi – funny
Sam Kinison – funny but also dead

Jeremiah on October 18, 2007 at 6:51 pm

hmm, I forgot Suzanne Pleshette, Valerie Harper, and Cloris Leachman! They always made me laugh.
Young Frankenstein, Frau Bluchar, what a HOOT!

Crimsonfisted on October 18, 2007 at 6:56 pm

Since others are naming some great male comedians (Belushi, Kinison), how about some contemporary cultural humor with Russell Peters (Hindu/Indian)
45 minutes of solid gold

justamomof4 on October 18, 2007 at 7:49 pm

Frank Fontaine as off-centered Crazy Guggenheim, Art Carney as Ed Norton, Johnny Carson (a major investor in the De Lorean Motor Company) as Carnac the Magnificent and as himself in the Tonight Show monologue, Alan King, Jonathan Winters, Don Rickles, Billy Crystal, Howard Stern and Bernard Jeffrey McCullough, better known as Bernie Mac!

NDN on October 18, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Glad you said it first…”none of them are funny”(women)
I was surprised to see that the writer for The Office is a female. It’s written well and is funny (I hated the British version that proceeded it).
Before he blew his brains out, Richard Jeni did a Comedy Central Special that was really funny. He managed to talk about politics in a way that wasn’t just bias.
In the past there have been many funny women(not yet mentioned: Gilda Ratner). Today, like inspiring leaders, there is a dearth. That goes for men too. Ann Coulter makes me laugh more than most comedy. Jakie Mason is always good. (isn’t he on fire these days, with his video-weblog!?)

The Word-Drum on October 18, 2007 at 8:32 pm

Debbie Schlussel is funny!
I come here to be get a laughed as well as being informed on the more serious issues.

cinerx on October 18, 2007 at 9:53 pm

How about Groucho Marx?
“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”
“A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”

WillPower on October 18, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Don’t forget Gracie Allen. Even though she was playing off George Burns she was funny.
I thought when Carol Burnette played the ditzy secretary she was funny, but otherwise not very funny.
Years ago I saw Gary Muledeer do a routine on HBO where he was all over the place with a lot of props. It was very fast paced and I thought that was the funniest routine I ever remember.
I like Emo Phillips because he really does take the joke where you don’t expect it to go.

Dan E Boye on October 18, 2007 at 10:50 pm

Mark Twain.

feralcat9 on October 18, 2007 at 11:00 pm

Man – a creature made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.
– Mark Twain
There is no distinctly American criminal class – except Congress.
– Mark Twain

feralcat9 on October 18, 2007 at 11:07 pm

I was surprised by this post, Debbie. You should check out some of the characters as performed by Debra Wilson and Nicole Sullivan on MAD TV during the 90s, which always skewered America’s PC culture.
Those skits still crack me up. Debra unarguably does the best Oprah impression I have ever seen…just lethal.

TT on October 18, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Granted, she’s not a comedian by trade, but how did no one think of Ann Coulter? Her latest book is essentially a thematic collection of the punch lines that have enraged people over the years.
My Faves:
“I like gays. I like all gays, and not just the ones who are Ann Coulter drag queens.”
“Some liberals have become even too craazy for Texas to execute, which is a damn shame.”
Colmes: Ann, you referred to John Kerry as a kept man, a gigolo, and a cad. Those are just three things.
Coulter: No one has contested me on the facts, I notice.
“I’m a Christian first and a mean-spirited, bigoted conservative second, and don’t you ever forget it.”
“I really like Deadheads and the whole Dead concert scene: the tailgating, the tie-dye uniforms, the camaraderie– it was like NASCAR for potheads.”

Robert Crabtree on October 19, 2007 at 2:34 am

Love Julia Louis Dreyfuss! She’s genius. Many of the female guest actresses on Seinfeld were likewise funny, including George’s mother.
Sarah Bernhardt in King of Comedy was pretty hilarious. Jane Curtain and Gilda Radner on SNL were pretty funny.
I think a distinction has to be made between standups and comedy actresses, though. Standups write their own comedy and I don’t have much knowledge there since I don’t have the opportunity to watch standups much. But I’ve seen a lot of funny actresses in sitcoms, where as Debbie pointed out, the talent is in the ability to deliver someone else’s lines comedically rather than being funny/witty in your own material. The mother in SOAP was hilarious (can’t remember her name) but then she played in other comedies where she and the show were atrocious. Same with men, though. Jerry Stiller is priceless in Seinfeld, but so UNfunny in King of Queens, which is a stupid show anyway.
But Debbie, I’m not sure what your point is? What’s the point of claiming that men are funnier than women?

AmericanJewess on October 19, 2007 at 3:50 am

Ellen Degeneres was funny when she was a stand-up comic, before she ‘came out’ and got all political.
Rita Rudner was always funny. And she had a cute/sexy vibe.
Other than that, can’t think of any female comics that ever made me laugh as hard as some of the kings- Robert Klein, Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin, to name a few.

Barry in CO on October 19, 2007 at 6:30 am

Back in the days of the old Ed Sullivan Show. Totie Fields was funny, so WAS Joan Rivers and Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller’s wife and routine partner. Comedic Actressess are not really that funny, perhaps they had funny roles. Take them out of their famous roles and they are nothing special, many over rated.

StuLongIsland on October 19, 2007 at 6:42 am

Not that it matters but Joy Behar is not Jewish (you used the term “yenta”) but an Italian-Amrerica. Whatever – she is obnoxious.

Ripper on October 19, 2007 at 9:09 am

Actually Moms Mabley was funny. Too often what passes for female humor on TV (think Edith Bunker and Phoebe on “Friends”) is just ding battery.

Ripper on October 19, 2007 at 9:15 am

The late Madeline Kahn was very funny.

Ripper on October 19, 2007 at 9:17 am

“Judy Tenuta is pretty good.”
Steve, that is the UNDERSTATEMENT of the year! Wow. I went to the link and watched, wishing it wouldn’t END. Forgotten how funny she was. Thanks for the memories, Steve.
I think her comedy works because everybody knows how we women have split-personalities, but she actually figured out how to make perfect use of them – all without costume or set changes…

wholebrainer on October 19, 2007 at 9:37 am

Margaret Cho and Janeane Garafalo – as funny as an attack of shingles.

Ripper on October 19, 2007 at 9:53 am

As a male writer of comedy and performer of stand-up. I always check to see if the editor is a woman and don’t bother to submit hip, fresh funny material.
Also, I don’t bother to audition for women at clubs.
BUT I have one stupendous argument against you –

poetcomic1 on October 19, 2007 at 1:38 pm

Some of Churchill’s best:
1. Churchill walked in the men’s lavatory in the Parliament building and saw a Labour Party member doing his thing. Churchill purposely walked to a urinal the furthest from where the Labour Party member was standing. “Feeling stand-offish today, Winston?” he was asked.
“That’s right, because every time you see something big you want to nationalize it”.
2. One time Churchill was attending a dinner party by an American hostess when he was visiting the US. As he was being served roast chicken, his hostess asked him what part he preferred. “I’d like some breast meat, please”, he answered.
“Mr. Churchill, we say white meat or dark meat here”, he was admonished.
The next day, he sent a thank you card with a corsage to his hostess. “Thank you for the lovely dinner, and I hope you will honor me by pinning this to your white meat”.
3. Telegram from George Bernard Shaw to Churchill: “Come to the opening night of my new play. Have reserved two tickets. Bring a friend, if you have a friend”.
Churchill shot back: “Can’t make the opening night. Will come second night, if there is a second night”.
4. A political opponent of Churchill, who was notorious for being a tee totaller and vegetarian passed Churchill, who muttered, “There but for the grace of G*d goes G*d”.

atheling on October 19, 2007 at 8:21 pm

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