Issue 11

Why Men Think They Are Funny


                I never believed my father when he told me that men and women are different.  He tried to explain, but I was too young to understand that his frustration at not being able to describe exactly why they were different in truth explained everything.

                There are those who suspect the difference lies hidden in our genetic makeup.  That may explain why men can ravage a bag of pork rinds while women must turn away in disgust, but it sheds no light on why men think they are funny while women know without a doubt that men simply aren't.

                Let's take an example, say a man and a woman standing in line waiting to get onto a ski lift.  A man in the line next to them passes out and collapses to the ground after having locked his knees for too long.  The woman will say, "I hope he's all right."  The man will say, "Boy, I'm glad we're not in that line."  Given any situation, the woman will empathize with the underdog.  The man will laugh at him.

                This kind of humor is more than just perspective; for men, it's a matter of social survival.  Everything is competition in the world of men.  Women, when they get together, complement each other's hair or dress, and while the complements may harbor vicious and catty undertones, at worst they are accurate.  If another guy complements me on my pants, I freeze because it means either the hole in the crotch has gotten big enough that other people can see it or that my fly is open or that I wasn't very careful the last time I went to the bathroom or...

                Simply put, this kind of thing is terrifying to hear from the lips of another man.  It's a very primitive but effective form of dominance.  Being funny is really a proactive form of self defense, saving men from public disgrace while exposing potential rivals – and all other men are potential rivals – to ridicule and scorn.

                Often we men say things women think are dumb or stupid.  Most of the time, it's just us being genuine.  When a guy says to a woman, "Wow!  I can't believe you just ate four tacos", he is not calling her fat.  It's an honest complement, and we really are impressed at the feat.  Women, on the other, tend to take life too seriously.  From a man's perspective, women are always taking each other's feelings into account.  Note that they only take each other's feelings into account.  Men, of course, don't have feelings.  When we say something innocent and honest ("Yes, that dress does make you look fat") we suddenly find ourselves mercilessly raked over the hot coals of guilt.  And Heaven forbid we said it in a funny way. 

                It is not uncommon for a man – often several times each day, in fact – to determine that he simply cannot hear what a woman has said to him.  It's not that he cannot physically hear but that he knows that he cannot let himself hear without having to respond and get himself into trouble.  The pressure can be stifling.  That's why guys need to be around other guys from time to time.  And that's why women always shake their heads when they see guys around guys.  We tell really bad jokes and all laugh at them.  Women don't understand it.  What's really happening is that us guys are giving each other support.  We tell bad jokes on purpose, just to prove that the joke isn't what matters.  It's all about being funny.

                Men naturally think they're funny.  Sometimes, women, you can catch us laughing at our own jokes.  Please don't ask us to explain.  Somehow when we have to try to put the joke into words, you force us to expose the joke as being dumb and stupid.  Of course, you are right about the quality of the joke.  But who cares if it is dumb and stupid?  Why did you have to tell us?  And why did you have to ruin the joke?  Suddenly something that caused us to laugh, to have a moment of pleasure in our lives, becomes cause for embarrassment.  That's why men claim to always be thinking about sex.  It's just a cover.  What we're really smiling about is a great joke that only God and ourselves will ever get.  We can handle women being mad at us, which is why we lie about thinking about sex.  Telling the truth – that we thought of a funny joke – is simply too painful.

                Despite popular misconception, men do have feelings, and those feelings are quite fragile.  That a man is funny constitutes a critical part of his self-confidence.  Proving to him to that he is not funny is even worse than counting how many tacos he eats.  Women, if you love your man, indulge his greatest fantasy tonight:

                When he tells a joke, laugh.


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