Every time I see, hear about, or read something by Amy Sedaris, I get weepy. If, when filling out my Sunday crossword puzzle, there are only three spaces instead of five to answer the clue "Humorist Sedaris," I imagine giving the sprightly little blond a sumo belly bump of solidarity. "You've come a long way, baby," she makes me gush. Unfortunately, as my favorite funny lady, she invariably serves to remind be of this preposterous assertion by Christopher Hitchens. The article "Why Women Aren't Funny," was published in Vanity Fair in January of 2007, but is so infuriating that it refuses to go away because women all over the internet are disproving it. Constantly.
In the article, Hitchens (whose book God is Not Great I was looking forward to reading, but could not get through the first chapter due to the fact that it sucked so bad) hews a Stanford University School of Medicine study to illustrate that women have lesser senses of humor then men. He uses crappy anecdotal evidence ("…there is something that you absolutely never hear from a male friend who is hymning his latest (female) love interest: 'She's a real honey, has a life of her own … [interlude for attributes that are none of your business] … and, man, does she ever make 'em laugh.'") and a Rudyard Kipling poem about making babies to support his thesis. Hitchens is so infuriatingly pig-headed in this piece, clearly avoiding evidence that oppose his argument. The Stanford study did actually show that men and women have different expectations of humor, but also that women are less interested in a reward (punch line) and process language more actively than men when looking at cartoons. That just sounds to me like women have smarter senses of humor than men. And I'd just like to say that I've heard many men (including the one in my life) claim that their women are funny and site their funniness as a reason for being with them. Hitchens self-centered motives are so transparent in this piece: he sees women as super-sexualized, mysterious creatures put on this planet to massage his ego by laughing heartily at his jokes and not telling any of their own (e.g. not competing with his big and powerful brain). And just look at this whopper of a paragraph:
In any case, my argument doesn't say that there are no decent women comedians. There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three. When Roseanne stands up and tells biker jokes and invites people who don't dig her shtick to suck her dick—know what I am saying? And the Sapphic faction may have its own reasons for wanting what I want—the sweet surrender of female laughter. While Jewish humor, boiling as it is with angst and self-deprecation, is almost masculine by definition. [emphasis added]
It really burns my toast. But then I see this video of my dear Amy not looking at all hefty or dykey or Jewish (not that any of those things are bad) and being very funny. She's a guest on Chelsea Handler's late night talk show promoting her lifestyle/cookbook I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. In this clip, Sedaris whips out a felt vagina her friend Todd Oldham (you may have heard of him) made for her to illustrate vaginal cleansing, and explains how to give the "squaw" on the side of a Land O'Lakes butter box a set of peek-a-boo knockers (it's worth springing the extra $.50 for the name brand, even in a recession).