Humor Myths – Another One Bites The Dust

Jay Cole image

Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

We’re all familiar with myths. Some are adventurous tales, some teach valuable lessons, and some are simply ridiculous.

There are Greek, Roman and Norse myths that have made their way into story, song, television and film.

Archeologists finally admitted that a mistranslated typo on the original 4000 year-old stone tablet, if corrected, simply states that Thor was hammered.

There are also urban myths (AKA urban legends), humorous or horrific, that make a viral splash and then never seem to die. The evidence for most is as weighty as pocket lint.

New York City’s mayor again announced that there are no alligators living in the sewers. In a seemingly unrelated story, he awarded Meritorious Service Medals to the city’s shawarma vendors.

And of course, there are many myths about humor. Most are more pocket lint!

Myths about humor reside in that netherworld between pure bull and personal opinion. Generally, it’s an attempt to classify humor according to an individual’s personal taste, or an attempt to claim some special knowledge or understanding that somehow miraculously escaped the notice of the rest of humanity.

NOTE: Most people acquire this special knowledge and understanding in a bar shortly before failing a breathalyzer.

Here are some of the more common myths about humor:

  • British humor is too dry.
  • Slapstick is not funny.
  • There are no universal forms of humor.
  • Germans have no sense of humor.
  • __________ is not funny. [Fill in any popular comedian’s name.]
  • Women are not funny.

PARDON! What was that last one?!

People who say…

Okay, MEN who say that women are not funny must be talking about some other planet’s women, because this certainly has nothing to do with the females on planet Earth! Such statements bring the speaker’s IQ into question, and it’s also possible that he will never again have a date during his lifetime.

Now, I’ll grant that there are some generalizations about women and humor that have a tinge of truth to them, but for every generalization, there are a ton of exceptions. Consider:

Women don’t get slapstick.
While it’s true that there are many women who will never be fans of The Three Stooges or Gilligan’s Island, there are a ton of female comedians and actresses whose skill at physical comedy is Absolutely Fabulous – Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders, and Julia Sawalha.

Many pioneering female comedians broke new ground in physical comedy and their performances continue to play on classic television stations, including:

I Love Lucy – Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance

The Carol Burnett Show – Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence

Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In – Ruth Buzzi, Lili Tomlin, Jo Anne Worley and Goldie Hawn

And today, there are plenty of actresses in Hollywood who are not afraid to get physical. That is, funny physical. Just to name a few:

The Heat – Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy

A League of Their Own – Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell.
Directed by: Penny Marshall

Juno – Ellen Page

Little Miss Sunshine – Toni Collette and Abigail Breslin

Women and other areas of comedy?

XXX-rated – Among many others, try challenging Sarah Silverman, Whoopi Goldberg, or Kathy Griffin to go to the dark side. You’ll get your ears scorched!

Headliners in Vegas – Phyllis Diller, Lili Tomlin, Rita Rudner, Lisa Lampanelli, Joy Behar, Heather McDonald and many, many more — past and present.

Sitcom Actresses – Please! Just turn on your television any night of the week and you’ll be laughing at talented comedic actresses.

Female Humorists and Comedy Writers – Scripts for film and television, articles, columns and blogs, romantic comedies and other humorous novels, standup comedy – every available format has been produced by many, many talented women.

Some myths really are simply ridiculous! The truth: Women are not funny is not so much a myth as a blatant lie!

Parting Funny: The first purpose of alcohol is to make English your second language.Robin Williams

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Next Up: The Writer IS a Performer


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