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Pull My Finger


By Jackie Papandrew



As a professional columnist who writes on matters of pressing national importance that frequently involve food-thieving dogs and sanity-stealing teenagers, I sometimes have to deal with difficult people. These people typically share a common trait - they openly admit to being men.

One such brazen fellow contacted me recently to let me know that he did not believe I actually write my columns, suggesting I must employ the services of a male ghostwriter.

“Your columns are too funny,” he wrote. “And women aren’t funny."

Then he added a strange caveat: “Or, if they are funny, they are ugly women. And you are too pretty to be ugly."

Now, understand that this backhanded compliment came from a man probably in urgent need of an eye exam who was looking at a picture of me taken by a professional photographer using all the latest photo-enhancing techniques after I’d gone through a multi-step procedure involving makeup and numerous hair-styling appliances. In other words, it was not representative of how I really look, especially first thing in the morning.

Anyway, this reader’s chauvinistic comments really got my goat. But after I’d calmed down, retrieved said goat and put him (or her) back in my mental barn, I started thinking about gender differences in the appreciation of humor. And I did a little research. Turns out, it has been scientifically proven that men and women process “funny” differently. Some scientists with serious inclinations have done some serious scientific studies, and they have discovered that women appear to think a bit more about whether or not they find something amusing.

These serious scientific studies threw around a lot of brain lingo with some pre-frontal cortex mumbo-jumbo attached to it, but to boil it down, women were found to take some time to truly enjoy a comedic experience. Women like sharing narratives that create a bonding moment. If a woman has something funny to say, you should probably grab a seat because the punch line isn’t coming for a while. Women laugh more at themselves and they don’t do crude. We'd never ask someone to pull our finger.

Men, on the other hand, like making fun of everyone. They like one-liners and sucker punches that come with a sting. They consider bodily noises an art form, from the perfect armpit fart (which I’ll admit does take some skill) to the loudest burp. Men are humor primitives – man hears joke, man thinks, “Oh, a joke,” man laughs because, well, it’s a joke. They don't have the attention span or the desire to wait for the rib-tickling to begin.

This ability to be easily amused is a wonderful quality for members of your audience to have if you are in the business of trying to make people laugh. It also explains the appeal of such nauseatingly stupid (from a female perspective) movies as the seemingly unending “Jackass” series.

But it renders the XY side of our species (AKA men) incapable of appreciating more sophisticated female funnies. That’s why, as a professional humor columnist with a duty to tickle as many funny bones as possible - regardless of gender - I often write about simple things. It’s also why, if one of my male readers actually laughs at one of my columns, he may be skeptical that it was written by a woman. And that is why men don’t think women are funny. In the world of wit, we occupy different planes of existence.

I really am a girl, guys, and I really do write my own material. But in order to further my comedic career and appeal to the widest possible audience, I frequently try to think like a man. Pull my finger.

©Jackie Papandrew, All Rights Reserved

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jackie75percentsmaller.jpgJackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer/editor with experience in a wide variety of publications, including newspapers and magazines, technical materials and corporate communications. She also writes a syndicated humor column.




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