This one’s for you, Hitch.
Katha Pollitt is so damn funny. Here is her latest column in the Nation. It is funny. Subtly funny, intelligently funny, straight-up funny. In it, God drunk dials her and tries to get her to run for POTUS. Hilarity ensues. In my heart and on my blog, I dedicate this column to Christopher Hitchens.
When I was Katha Pollitt’s intern at The Nation in the fall of 2005, one of my assignments was to photocopy all of her columns from the previous five years so that the hard copies could be messengered over to her publisher for what was later to become the book “Virginity or Death!: And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time,” a best-of collection of her biweekly columns (Hitchens’ own collection of columns, Arguably, came out recently).
Her columns were right across the page from those of Christopher Hitchens, who later left the magazine over his stance on the Iraq war (he was pro, entire rest of the office down to the plants and the carpeting was anti). Standing there by the copy machine, I absorbed a lot of vintage Hitch. He’s absolutely brilliant, one of the funniest writers I’ve ever read, especially when he decides to be mean. But a few years ago he lost me with an incoherent Vanity Fair essay on why women aren’t funny:
“Women appeared to have less expectation of a reward, which in this case was the punch line of the cartoon,” said the report’s author, Dr. Allan Reiss. “So when they got to the joke’s punch line, they were more pleased about it.” The report also found that “women were quicker at identifying material they considered unfunny.”
Slower to get it, more pleased when they do, and swift to locate the unfunny—for this we need the Stanford University School of Medicine? And remember, this is women when confronted with humor. Is it any wonder that they are backward in generating it?
This claptrap leads to outcomes like SXSW’s 29 men:1 woman comedy lineup this past March (and reinforces outdated, unhelpful gender roles). But a study out a few weeks ago put this nonsense to bed, as the consistently and highly funny Amanda Marcotte noted in Slate:
It’s worth noting that this study didn’t get as much coverage as other, less scientfically sound evolutionary-psychology ramblings that actually promote sexist stereotypes. Which is a shame, because this study neatly debunks the unevidenced claims of evolutionary psychology that there’s a “sense of humor” gene on the Y chromosome that’s there—why else?—so men can get women to sleep with them. What the researchers actually found was that the slight edge given to men in humor rankings was because men find men funnier than women find men. So much for that “will get you laid” theory.
When my late father, Gerald Sussman, worked as a humor writer at The National Lampoon in the late 1970s, the staff was all male. But that was then. This is now.
Updated Monday 8:15 am I forgot to add a list of a few other people to read if you love the funny. Send me your favorites and I’ll post them too! Please you enjoy:
- Chloe Angyal, blogger at Feministing and author of this big bag of funny, a send-up of rom-coms
- Katie Halper, satirist and stand-up comedian
- Jill Filipovic and friends over at Feministe, with a couple recent favorites here and here
- Jena Axelrod, JenaNotJameson