He’s not that funny….or is he?

Think quick, name me three comediennes (female)….now name me three comediens (male).  Tell me how difficult was it to name the females vs the males? 

Unfortunately as it turns out men are funnier than women that is according to a study by Dr Laura Mickes professor of psychology at University of California.  Dr Mickes and her team conducted a study to determine if men were in fact funnier than women.   

Dr Mickes and her team asked 32 particiapting men and women to come up with funny captions to cartoons published by the New Yorker Magazine.  They then asked a separate group of men and women to rate the captions based on how funny they were.  Interestingly both men and women found the captions written by the males funnier. 

In a follow-up study Dr Mickes and her team showed the group of raters a selection of the funniest and least funny captions revealing whether they had been written by men or women.  When they later asked the group to recall which captions were funny both the male and female raters had a tendency to attribute “funny” captions that had been written by women to men.   In other words both men and women perceive men to be funnier than women.  In the words men think they are funnier than they are – but women do too!

While I’m skeptical about studies like this (only 32 people in the sample and who knows whether the personalities they picked in the sample skewed the results) and the conclusions one draws from them. 

Frankly I’m a big fan of Ellen Degeneres and Whoopie Goldberg- but I hate to say it – they are the only comediennes I can name off the top of my head.  Meanwhile, the names Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal just roll off the tongue.

I guess the question is why do we think men are funnier?  Some suggestions that being funny is one of the ways a man seduces a woman are plausible.  When you think about it a man who goes through the trouble of making a woman laugh or entertaining her is probably signalling that he likes her. 

Interestingly, if you believe the research women seem to want to believe men are funnier too – but as the research suggests – they’re not as funny as they (or we) think they are…..   

Image courtesy of  Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com


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