Funny and Female: Why So Contradictory?

Funny and Female: Why So Contradictory?

Patriarchy overthrown, radical female hilarity ensues

Maria Jantz
Funnies Editor
mkjantz@goshen.edu

Kate Yoder
Funnies Editor
kmyoder@goshen.edu

Here’s the funny thing about The Record’s funnies page: about half of the articles this year were written by women.

After three collective semesters of funnies page editing, we think we’re qualified to say, unbiased, that those of the female inclination can be quite hilarious. But we haven’t always thought that way.

“When I started college, funny was something I aspired to, but I didn’t feel like I could safely say I was a funny person,” Jantz said.

It takes a certain amount of arrogance—or confidence—to write something and assume it’ll make people laugh. You may have heard of this thing called a “patriarchal society.”

What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Let us enlighten you. We assume men have more power in social situations, and telling jokes is a way of asserting power. When women use humor, it can seem threatening to the patriarchal order.

Yoder said, “When I first talked about writing for the funnies with Becca Kraybill, the editor of The Record at the time, she was so excited. She said, ‘Women haven’t written for the funnies in ages!’”

Little did Kraybill know that there would soon be not one, but two funnies editors who lacked Y-chromosomes.

How many females have edited the funnies in Goshen history, anyway? In the eternal quest for accurate data, Jantz climbed up way too many stairs to access the Mennonite Historical Library’s archives. After an exhaustive, exhausting search (she couldn’t even use the Internet!), she uncovered shockingly, ridiculously super-sad statistics.

We are two of three female funnies editors in Record history. Since the inception of the funnies page in 2004, there have been 24 funnies editors. Not counting ourselves, these editors were 5-percent women—if we round up.

When women speak during convocation, we’ve noticed they tend to downplay their jokes. They don’t pause and wait for the laugh track. Men, on the other hand, deliver their jokes as, well, jokes.

According to one study, when women tell jokes while leading meetings, their audience laughs only 20-percent of the time. When men tell jokes, they draw laughter 90-percent of the time.

A number of studies have attempted to answer the question “Who is funnier?” once and for all. Regrettably, many of these studies read like a peer-reviewed version of high school.

Check out this actual joke used in an actual study: “Q: Why did the woman cross the road? A: Never mind, what was she doing out of the kitchen?” The authors found that women are—surprise!—less likely to laugh at sexist jokes; ergo, women are not as funny.

Furthermore, studies show that girls make as many jokes as boys until age six, when

they are all abducted by aliens, who suck their sense of humor out of them and use it as a source of fuel. We’re dead serious.

But to be even more serious, there’s a funnies article hiding inside of everyone. We aren’t the exception.

“After I wrote my first funnies article, I tested it on three or four people before I sent it in,” Yoder said. “I needed affirmation that the article was actually funny.”

Anyone can learn to do it. So why don’t women try?

Record
Written by Record

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