Men can be so funny.
When I say ‘funny’ I don’t mean amusing. I mean the other dictionary definition of ‘funny’: difficult to explain or understand, strange or curious.
Over recent months I have been experiencing a rash of these strange and curious ‘funny’ men.
After doing my stand-up set I will find myself, almost without exception, visited by a handful of men who need me to stand very still and be very silent while they tell me: ‘Yeh you were good. I’m all for women doing stand-up. I mean, personally I prefer male comics…’ and then proceed to inform me exactly which bits of my material they felt worked best for their testicular tastes.
Invariably this will be followed by them giving me a long list of comedians and sketch shows (all male) which they love and which I absolutely SHOULD love too.
Some of them will then launch into an ill-judged performance of those favourite comedy sketches/jokes for my pleasure. I have yet to be amused by a single one of these awkward little shows, but no matter; none of them have yet to notice that I am not amused. In this way, I imagine these funny men are exactly the type of fellas who after sex will ask: did you come, babe?
To clarify: none of these funny men are comedians. No comedian would ever give unsolicited feedback to a fellow comedian. These funny men are professional computer programmers, professional admin assistants, professional boring dickwhacks.
Some of these funny men find me on twitter or through this blog. They private message me with questions like, ‘so, you’re a stand-up comedienne?’ As if the idea were so preposterous I must have made it up. If I reply, ‘yep, and we just call ourselves comedians. It’s not the eighties,’ they often fire back with something like, ‘ooooh, lost your sense of humour love! lol 😂😂😂😂’
Ah, such funny, funny men.
Often the online men send me an avalanche of YouTube clips of their favourite comedy sketches with the prefix: ‘you should watch this’ or ‘you will love this’. Because what I need, what I definitely need in order to write my own material, is to spend all day watching clips sent by unfunny men from the shit comedy shows that made them laugh around the same time they discovered masturbation and self-loathing.
Almost always at some point, whether it be a post-gig or an online funny man, they will deliver the desperate line all comedians dread: that they’ve always wanted to try doing stand-up. The conversation usually goes like this:
Funny man: I’ve always fancied being a stand-up comedian.
Actual comedian (me): Tell me your best joke.
Funny man: Oh! Er… Well the best comedy doesn’t really work like that, does it? It’s not just joke joke joke is it?
Actual comedian (me): Yes it is. That’s exactly what it is. Joke joke joke. That’s the job.
Funny man: Well I know I’m funny, it’s just having the balls to get up on stage.
Actual comedian (me): How do you know you’re funny?
Funny man: How do you know you are?! Lol 😂😂😂
Actual comedian (me): Because I stand on stages and make strangers laugh.
Funny man: I’ll write some stuff and send it to you. I think you’d love it.
My dear readers, will it surprise you to know that I have never, ever loved it?
Oh men; funny, funny men.
The curious thing is, not once has a woman ever approached me after a gig or connected with me online and behaved like these funny men. Not once has a woman sent me a private message challenging my right to call myself a comedian and then flooded my inbox with Fast Show skits that I SHOULD love.
So what’s it all about?
A clue might lie in my recent experience of sexual assault. I know. Bear with me.
I found, almost as traumatic as the physical and emotional abuse he inflicted on me, was the preceding hour-long monologue on comedy he forced me to endure.
Once again, this man was not a comedian (I think he worked in social media) but that didn’t stop him telling me all about his favourite comedians and performing all his favourite jokes for me and not caring that I clearly wasn’t remotely amused and kept trying to shut him up by reminding him that I’d just come off stage myself and the last thing I wanted to do was talk comedy and also I’m really tired because the adrenalin is wearing off now so if you don’t mind let’s just say goodnight –
So he shut me up, good and proper.
Men like this need to control. They need to be the funniest person in the room, especially if the room only contains one other person and that person is a woman.
He needs to get what he needs and that is for you to shut up and listen to him, for you to shut up and let him express himself all over you, for you to just Shut. The. Fuck. Up.
I’m not saying, absolutely not even meaning to imply, that all these funny men are sexual abusers. But there is something they all have in common and it seems to be about needing me to know my place; to understand that whilst I may be the person on the stage making jokes, they are still, surely, by default of having a penis, funnier than me; in control of me.
I am learning how to deal with these funny men, to block them or walk away from them and certainly to never invite them into my home.
I am also learning to really appreciate the truly funny men in my life; the ones who are bloody hilarious and find me bloody hilarious and don’t need to control me or belittle me or be funnier than me.
The ‘funny’ thing is, if it’s about sex (and I suspect it is, underneath), I am far more likely to sleep with these genuinely hilarious, self-aware, warm and loving men than the weirdly comedy-obsessed, controlling, deeply unfunny fellas who want to send me their ‘work’.
Ah, it’s a funny old world, innit?