Do Men and Women Laugh at Different Things? (Post #331)

So, I’m in the midst of pitching a piece where I discuss whether or not gays and lesbians laugh at different things.  Most comedians will tell you, unfortunately, that it’s more fun to play an all gay-male room as opposed to a lesbian one.  I have this distinct memory of playing a gay and lesbian ski weekend in Vermont.  (Yes, this exists.) The show was at a town hall.  When I arrived, the men were on one side of the room and the women on the other.  An aisle separated them.  It was not some kind of Sadie Hawkins dance gone awry.  It was a “ladies only” / “men only” evening – never would there be an “all skate.”  The do-we-laugh-at-different-things question was laid out very clearly for me that night.  When I got up to perform, the right side of the room (filled with gay men) howled with laughter, while the left side of the room (lesbians) stared.  The gay men got so rowdy that, at one point, a man threw a glittery slipper up at me.


red glitter shoe

From an Arab, an insult. From a queen, the highest form of praise.


Now, you could say that maybe my comedy is more centered towards (or attractive to) gay men.  Possible.  You could also say that this is true of ‘older’ lesbians – the stare and glare approach, that is.  Perhaps the older generations of lady lovers tended to be more politically correct in their struggle for equality.  While the younger generations, less so.  Also possible.


But, then I took sexuality out of the question and I started thinking about a bigger, more holistic, thought…DO THE SEXES LAUGH AT DIFFERENT THINGS?


boys and girls laughing

What the feck is he laughing at??!!!


I can’t help, but think of Seth Macfarlane’s Oscar hosting and the subsequent fallout when bringing up this topic.  SEXIST.  That’s what all the e-papers were saying the next day.  SEXIST.  Full of boob and rape jokes.  Seth doesn’t like women, etc.


I don’t -typically- see it that way.  Sure there’s that rare comedian that I think is just an absolute mysogynist.  The truth is, I’m not sure that’s the case with Seth.  Shock is his brand of humor.  Look no further than Family Guy and he’s waving around an advertisement for the envelope he often pushes.  I think the one big thing we’re all missing is that we allow cartoons far more leeway than we do actual humans.  An animated something or other can say the most horrible thing and we go, “Ha, ha…that dog/ muppet/ cartoon man/ thing that isn’t real said this…”  THAT is why I think some of Seth’s jokes fell flat.  The female stuff was not the biggest bomber to me.  The biggest bomber was the line, “Who got into Lincoln’s head deeper than Spielberg…John Wilkes Booth.”  Boos.  It received actual boos.  But, imagine if Stewie had said it.  Now it’s much funnier.


The comedian in me just really didn’t find the show all that sexist.


However, I can’t for the life of me understand how Jackass is funny – the show or the movie.  Yes, slam a 2×4 with exposed nails into your genitalia, but don’t expect your idiocy to make me belly laugh.  Sure, cut your self with a piece of paper over 100 times and then jump into a bath filled with rubbing alcohol.  If actual punchlines are now to be substituted eternally with, “God, you’re an a**hole” then I suppose Jackass IS funny.  But, I don’t buy it.  I suppose I don’t get it.  Is it because I have a vag?


I don’t know.  My hope is that funny is funny.  My hope is that I liked Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globes better than Macfarlane hosting the Oscars -simply- because they were funnier.


What about you?  Is your undercarriage the boss of your funny bone?



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Photo creds:

boy-laughing, slippers


46 thoughts on “Do Men and Women Laugh at Different Things? (Post #331)

  1. ‘is it because I have a vag’ hahahahahaha. Probably, as we don’t have a jackass equivalent with women slamming wooden planks full of nails into our Girly places. Although I really can’t talk for those stare and growl menacingly under their breath older lesbians. Lol

  2. I tend to think that men and women to find different things funny because they find different things scary and different things make them feel vulnerable. Comedy is so often about pointing out the things that scare us in a way that make us laugh. I’m willing to bet that Seth MacFarlane is actually pretty afraid of women. That doesn’t necessarily excuse his sexist jokes in such a forum, but I think that’s what his jokes from Oscar night tell me. *shrug*

    1. i don’t know why i wasn’t offended by him. i feel like i should’ve been. loool. but, in the end, i wasn’t so much. i think you bring up a great point that we are scared by different things and this might be why we laugh at different ones. my personal jury is out on the subject because i’m just not sure either way… much love, sm

  3. Funny is funny. Or not. Because I don’t watch Modern Family I didn’t know who Seth MacFarlane was. He was okay. Some of his jokes weren’t so funny. Did he write them? And there’s no doubt I like Tina Fey better. She is just plain funnier. Michelle’s sense of humor and mine are diametrically opposed. I have to give it to a difference in the sexes as we are both straight. BUT, I have known some women who enjoy the same jokes I do and M doesn’t. So, I think you have to look in still another direction. Perhaps you should try either nature or nurture. On that note, I cannot remember EVER hearing my mom or dad tell a joke. Good luck!. .

    1. seth is ‘family guy,’ which is a cartoon. modern family is a whole different can of worms. i DO think it’s important to do that because it’s KNOWN in the comedy world that you can get away with FAR more when something is animated then you can when it’s real life and that’s part of the problem. and i can’t believe you don’t ever remember either of your parents telling a joke??!!!!! i find you so funny. where do you think you got your humor from then? xoxo, sm

      1. I’m glad you find me “funny”.You’d be the only one. My sense of humor must have come from school, although it had little to do with my teachers, who were always trying to stifle it. Perhaps that’s why it is often hidden, or at least “different” Now that I think about it, it mat have been all the novocaine I mainlined as a very young dental patient at my weekly sessions.

  4. I think that men and women have different senses of humor. I actually have read that humor is tied into language and perhaps that is why men and women find different things humorous. There are tons of studies that show the ways language is used by men and women differs (agree if you want or not) and so it would make sense that humor would differ too.

    If you unsure about the language metaphor… It is said one of the hardest things to do in another language is properly execute a joke. And have you ever tried joking with someone who’s native language is different than yours? I’m being rather vague about this whole concept because being more specific would require several blog posts, but just adding my thoughts…

    1. *The difference in languages between men and women I was talking about was a French study, not an English one. My expertise doesn’t extend in English, so hopefully it’s the same…

    2. i think the language thought is SUCH an interesting one. truly. there is also that point that women -even at a very early age- say SOOOO much more then men. just in pure quantity of words. sometimes i think women like a story more and men like a gag. but, i think that’s too simple because sometimes i like a gag too… i just don’t know. there’s a kristen wiig ‘baby arm’ sketch on snl where she’s in this old timey dress and has these two baby arms. it’s ridiculous and not intellectual at all and every time i see it i roar like a child laughing… i don’t know. xoxo, sm

  5. I think it’s ridiculous for people to act like they were shocked by things Seth McFarlane says. We have 10 seasons of Family Guy to sample his humor from. It wasn’t like he was going to get the gig and suddenly turn into Billy Crystal. Also, Fey and Pohler are the bomb.

    1. bill, i couldn’t agree with this comment more. i was just talking to a friend of mine last night, who was actually one of the writers of the oscars for seth, and he was like, ‘it was vetted -all of it- like 10,000 times.” and of course it was. it’s the feckin’ oscars. so, they knew what he was going to do and very much like hollywood fecks, the minute it wasn’t all standing ovations and roses, they jumped ship. but, honestly WHAT IN THE FECK DID THEY THINK HE WAS GOING TO DO??!! just watch family guy and you know… and i also didn’t think it was sexist. neither did wifesy. maybe we are just weird? i don’t know. xoxo, sm

  6. I think humor is one of those things that is not separated by gender – but maybe by experiences in life? I laugh at things that other women don’t laugh at and they laugh at things I don’t find amusing (I’m thinking the movie “Bridesmaids” – I did not think it’s the funniest movie ever…and many women didn’t like John Water’s and I LOVE his movies.

    I think it’s more important to find SOMETHING funny – because laughter rules and I wish people realized that being funny is just as challenging as ‘doing drama’…

    Jackass – I think that just lowers your IQ with each viewing…

    1. such good commentary, rutabaga. the ‘experiences’ point is such a valid one. perhaps, that’s what we funnel just about everything through, i’m inclined to think. and i love john waters. one of the funniest things ever is martha plimpton playing the ‘angry stripper’ in ‘pecker…’ anyhoo, agreed laughter is necessary, at least for me, it is. and jackass i still don’t get. wonderful to see you here. xoxox, sm

  7. I thought Seth was very funny. Some critics were saying he was making light of rape because a lot of the boob shots he mentioned were rape scenes. I think it was more of a case where he was picking on actresses that were there that night and so could only select from the movies they did. It wasn’t a comment on rape or even sexism. It’s how far someone will go in a role. He could have done it w/ men and full frontal nudity but the song would have be a LOT shorter.

    I laughed at most of his jokes, recognizing that he was mostly making fun of the fobilies of human nature. Just don’t ask me to spell it. I also liked how low keyed he was when saying some of the jokes.

    Sure, men and women laugh at different things. But some women find some of the things men laugh about just as funny. I’m one of those. Of course, I was a science fiction/fantasy fan at a young age, and prefer an action film over a romcom any day of the week.

    But I agree, and just do NOT get why men find Jackass funny at all.

    1. okay, urban, i agree with you on all points. i think it’s funny that we both love male humor or at least enjoy both -if you can actually assign humor a gender, that is, because i don’t think you can- and yet WE DRAW THE LINE AT JACKASS. i just don’t get that one at all. loool. but, agreed on your account of pretty much everything else. i also tend to prefer men’s magazines over women’s. i think the articles are far more interesting. seriously. xoxox, sm

  8. My husband often says if I’m the only one laughing, it isn’t funny. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I am usually laughing at him (and my own jokes).
    We find most of the same things to be funny. Some not. I think it depends on the delivery. Comedians who have delivered the goods for me: George Carlin, Dana Carvey, Carol Burnett, Kristen Wiig, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Gilda Radner, and Lily Tomlin.
    Farts and boobs and sex delivered ad nauseam frat style are lame with a capital Seth Mcwho? To get offended over a joke, just as lame.
    Physical comedy like that of Molly Shannon or David Hyde Pierce, not a stand up comedian, and yet, delivers the funny in a big way. So, do men and women laugh at different things? On the whole, I suspect not so much. That’s the extent of my knowledge as I am often astounded at what people find funny.

      1. all three of us like the same comedians! loool. agreed, honie. often, i think funny is funny and there’s not much of a gender difference at all. though i do -also- tire of fart/ sh*t/ d*ck jokes unless they are EXTREMELY original. great commentary, all around. xoxoxo, sm

  9. Maybe the impolitic thing to say is that lesbians are humorless. Especially in New England where I grew up. Do they take themselves too seriously? Stereotypically speaking, yup.

    My mom’s not gay (I think) and she has NO sense of humor. So maybe it’s not the orientation just the Y chromosome thingy. Then again what explains Sarah Silverman? She’s waaaay over the top, sick, but funny. The issue of what IS funny can be debated till the cows come home.

    1. i think that IS an old stereotype, the lesbians are humorless thing. but, the new generation of them, i don’t really think so. and then how do you explain ellen? so, there are exceptions to every rule. and then of course there are dudes with absolutely 0 humor, much like your mom. so, i don’t know what the feck it is. and i LOVE sarah silverman. i think she’s hilarious. maybe it’s a brain chemistry thing. but, then why would we like the same comedian… we may never know. it’s like the ridiculous ‘ckn or the egg’ argument. 😉 xo, sm

  10. Men and women *do* laugh at different things. Take flatulence for example: Most men would laugh their asses off at a fart. Most women would be horrified and/or digusted.
    A lot of men thought Seth’s humor was hilarious. Most women did not. Does that mean he hates women? Not according to his wife. As for the Abe Lincoln joke, that was freaking hilarious. But then, I find all sorts of stuff funny.

    1. my mother laughs at farts constantly. she loves a good fart joke. and i think my dad, less so. he’s more likely to exhale forcefully and walk out of the room. so, i don’t know what in the feck. and i thought seth was funny. i thought some of it bombed, but for the most part – funny. and i didn’t find it sexist, which is interesting. because every time jerry lewis or hitchens would say, ‘women aren’t funny’ it made me furious. now, of course, seth didn’t do that…so, there’s that… lool. xo, sm

    1. i never get jackass. i don’t know why, i just don’t. i’m always like, ‘ow.’ BUT, i did howl at the first ace ventura – pet detective and that movie is just stupid. and yet, i nearly died laughing. suffice it to say, i have no answers… 😉 sm

  11. I find irony funny – I thought Seth was funny. I thought the boobs piece was funny because of it’s context with Shatner telling him that it would ruin his legacy as an Oscar host. It was pure farce. I also don’t get this whole analysis of his humor the next day. I like Tina and Amy better, they made me laugh out loud, but I thought Seth did OK. As far as men and women – I don’t see it.

    1. we are on the same page here. i ALSO thought the boob song was funny and i thought it was funny because of the context. sort of like ‘springtime for hitler’ in the ‘producers’. if you REALLY do a springtime for hitler song, maybe not that funny, but if you do it in the context of WORST MUSICAL EVER… then you’ve got something. in my opinion, anyway. i have no idea about humor across gender lines tho…. xo, sm

      1. Springtime for Hitler – exactly – irony = funny. It seems all the commentary about the boob song seems to forget the context.

  12. The Daughter and I tend to have the same sense of humour, but often, we’re the only people laughing in the cinema… I think that sums up my knowledge of humour. 😦

  13. If you have been around a kid who is just figuring out jokes, and what makes something funny, I think there is a big difference between girls and boys after a certain age. Both think the fart/bodily functions things are funny, but after a while, the girls tend to tell the word jokes (like the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana”) and the boys seem to be stuck in the fart/bodily functions jokes much longer……say until the day they die. Jackass is a fart/bodily function level of joke. Tina and Amy are a higher brain joke. I think it is generally a male/female difference…..but there are always exceptions to the rule.

  14. Jackass belongs in the era of silent films 🙂 no words necessary, although for the life of me I can’t see any humour in it. I watch all shows like that squished in the corner of the sofa, peeking through my fingers and moaning ‘don’t do it…’

    The Engineer and I do not share the same mother tongue and humour or perceived lack of it, has been a constant disagreement for us. Plus I’m more wordy and he’s more a practical joker. It’s definitely gender based in this house 🙂

    1. kans, i hear you. i watch all of those jackass type shows in the same way i’d watch an open surgery…by trying not to gag. i just don’t get it. and a gender difference AND a language barrier!! lord, if even one joke succeeds…you’re doing fine. 😉 xoxo, sm

  15. First, did they throw both glitter shoes? Were they your size and cute? Being a shoe fetish made me have to ask.

    Now to your premise, yes women and men laugh at different things on the whole. I don’t believe it has to do with orientation only with whether they were born with an innie or an outie. Women I suspect on the whole laugh at the human condition delivered with a subtle punchline; men laugh at the human condition after it has been punched with a two-by-four.

    Men tend to laugh at physical humor, the prat fall.
    Women tend to laugh at cerebral humor, the story.

    Whoppie Goldberg, George Carlin, Robin Willians, Richard Pryor were all great storytellers in their heyday.

  16. I like clever humour, play on words, social commentary. I can’t stand racism, sexist, shock value and toilet humour.

    That said I laugh my ass off at Wipeout. Go figure.

  17. Funny IS funny. However (sigh), gender does play a role in what we find funny. I don’t think that it’s due to biology, I think it’s due to our frame of reference, and our experiences are definitely colored and influenced by our gender and the role we perceive ourselves as playing. The Oscars is my first view and experience of Seth MacFarlane. I found him likable enough, and I don’t mind offensive since you can’t control for everything. My view, however, is that he held the note too long. The boobs number went on too long, the Lincoln joke was simply classless and distasteful. So, after the Oscar experience, I know who he is and I will neither jump at the chance to see his work again nor run screaming from it. It doesn’t warrant the brouhaha, neither pro nor con, that it’s getting. xoxoM

  18. I can’t get my husband to laugh at anything I say, and occasionally I am struck by the lightning bolt of sheer comedy genius (not often but maybe once a year). On the other hand, I often laugh until I cry. Maybe that’s because I have a vag too.

  19. It seems like after every Oscars there has to be the obligatory shredding of the host. I didn’t watch the show, but I saw bits and pieces and thought he was quite funny. What did Ricky Gervais host? The Globes? Everyone was all up in arms, but he was just being Ricky, which means he was hilarious. Of course I find Daniel Tosh funny and that is decidedly ungirly of me.

  20. If I can go old school on you, my father listened to the albums of Bob Newhart and I became a fan of his humor. My mother never did get it. Years later, when I introduced Bob’s humor to lady friends, they did not get it either. They liked his shows, but not his standup. I thought his standup was brilliant and I believe his standup, stands up, to this day. However, it was always a source of frustration that I would be dying with laughter over his routines and none of my lady friends would be cracking a smile. It was almost universal. To this day, I still don’t understand, but I can tell you with great certainty, in my humble opinion, when it comes to Bob Newhart’s stand up, women and men certainly look at humor in different lights. HF

  21. I think comedy is more cultural than simply split along gender lines.
    A good example of this is the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. And when I think of Jackass, I think of a lower-brow, less educated type of humor. They go for a gross factor, while Seth goes for the shock factor. And I’ve laughed at all of the above, actually.

  22. Maybe I’m just sick and twisted, but I think that John Wilkes Booth joke actually is funny- but I like historical humor. I also didn’t watch the Oscars this year though, so I have no idea what it sounded like when delivered.

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