Saturday, March 27, 2010

the gender of humor

Three years ago when I was still fairly new to Boston, I gave a talk in church. I considered it equal to the other talks and lessons I've given in recent years, but references to this talk surface every six months or so. For one reason or another, it seems to be one people remember.

The last time the talk came up, a few of us were out to eat. In this instance, it was a boy who brought it up and was explaining my delivery method to another new-to-the-area boy. I won't attempt to recreate the conversation because I'm terrible at remembering quotes--I remember meaningless details. (Raise your hand if you're surprised.) Sprinkled in the conversation, however, was the phrase "good at lady humor".

I'm sure I arched an eyebrow and asked for an explanation. Half stumbling through the rest of his discourse, the storyteller continued his observation that my talk had the women in the room enchanted. Surely noticing my silence and the wheels turning in my head (because I'd never heard this angle and until then had no idea anyone labeled my humor) he attempted to dig himself out of the conversation (though no digging was needed, but silence makes most of us begin to spew words). He considered "being good at lady humor" a true gift since women (at times) aren't the best at recognizing the good in other women (sometimes true).

That was about it for the conversation, but I've thought back on that conversation many times since. Is there a difference in men's and women's humor? Can you be good at one and terrible at another? Does my 90% women readership (see sidebar poll) give weight to this theory?

Obviously, we all find humor in different things. What's funny to me won't necessarily be funny to you. On the flip side of humor intake is the sense of humor you push out into the world.

A friend boy and I had a lively discussion a few weeks ago about movies and entertainment. You see, I'm not a huge fan of the Judd Apatow-brand of guy-buddy humor movies. I don't find (or provide) humor in any of the vulgar or crass things in life. It's not my style--and if it makes me square to say it, fine--it makes me quite uncomfortable. (Sorry folks.) I've thought a lot about that conversation too and wondered how much of him growing up with only brothers and me growing up with only sisters has slanted our humor views.

I recognize that I make witty connections every now and then. I attempt to be clever (without killing kindness) and poke fun at things (usually myself). My dad has always said that "sarcasm is the lowest form of humor"--and for a long time I thought that was the dumbest thing. As I've gotten older however, I see the true wisdom in the sentiment and try to think outside that box.

And as a side note, I try not to think of myself as a person with a slaying gift for humor. People who think they're funny, and say so (hello personal ads!) are typically indulgent and not all that funny. It's like some of Ellen's material on American Idol. She pushes too hard to add jokes and they end up being awful. For me, humor is a "show me, don't tell me" type of thing. It's not something that can be provable--especially because what you think is funny and what I find to be funny may not be compatible. As soon as you start thinking you're too hilarious, the sooner the number of people who think that start to dwindle. End side note.

There's no real grand climax to this post; nothing that wraps this up with a nice bow and makes sense of it all. (I'm just talking to talk.) Except, I guess to say that I'm more than happy to be "good at lady humor" and am pleased as punch to entertain those of you who frequent this oddly named blog. It's true that making yourself laugh is the first tier of importance, but it's lovely to have other people who find you entertaining as well. So, as always, thanks for your kind comments and compliments and if nothing else, humoring me.


kendall said...

I HATE Judd Apatow/crass kind of humor, it's definitely not my thing. I agree with you in that I think it comes from growing up with boys, and would add that we weren't allowed to make any sort of "potty mouth" joke at home. So we learned other ways of being funny.

Breona said...

I think self confidence and humor go hand and hand. If you can make fun of yourself, be honest and still laugh, you tend to be pretty hilarious! That's why I think conan o Brien is awesome. Too bad he has his crude moments...

Mallory Jan said...

I miss the owls.

Potty mouthing = stupid

Nat Attack said...

Two extra dudes have logged votes. Way to represent men of the cyber-world!

Definitely, maybe, probaby related posts:

If NatA! posted a photo with this blog, here it is!