Who's Funnier: Women or Men?
A cartoonist and the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff is one of the nation’s leading commentators on the role of humor in American business, politics, and life.
A successful entrepreneur, he created The Cartoon Bank (now a New Yorker Magazine company), the world’s largest and most influential cartoon licensing businesses.
Bob edited The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, the best-selling coffee table book for holiday 2004, featuring all 68,647 cartoons ever published in The New Yorker since its debut in 1925. Bob has edited dozens of other cartoon books and published four of his own. He appears frequently on network talk shows, cable TV networks, and syndicated radio programs.
Robert Mankoff: Men and women use humor differently. Men use humor often as a way to enhance their self presentation in a social situation – sort of look at me; also to show that they’re the dominant one in this situation. Women seem to use humor much more as a bonding mechanism, an affiliate of mechanism, and that’s the difference between joke humor and sort of conversational humor. It’s clear one of the real differences in our culture would be certainly among adolescent males. You see there’s a lot of insult humor among friends. You rarely see women do this. It’s not like they can’t be mean or anything, but they rarely insult each other as a form of joking.
Women’s humor is much more what’s called affiliative which is I want to make you feel good. I want to reveal something about myself. Here’s like a actual snippet of conversation because they have these conversational databases of humor. It’s two women at swimming pool, and one is saying to the other you know what is this good for your arms, and she goes that like that. In just in doing that, you know they’re fooling around a little bit, and the other woman says you know oh, I think it’s your thighs, and then the first woman said oh my thighs are out of control that’s helpless. And then the other woman says yeah I gained five pounds since I started swimming myself. Now they’re laughing they’re doing it. in other words they’re in this sort of playful mode and everything. You rarely find men through humor revealing something about themselves. Women often use the ambiguity of humor to probe and to find out about the other person, and they tend to like The Three Stooges a lot less than men.
Men and women tend to use humor differently, says the New Yorker cartoonist.
When it comes to making others laugh, you have to help them observe an absurd fact of life with you.
- When you're trying to write something funny, it has to be an idea that first strikes you, personally, as funny.
- The reason for this is that, then, it's something you're genuinely amused by. When this is so, it's based on observation of an experience that others may relate to.
- The next step, after this, is to try to translate it for others to understand. Sometimes you can't reword it perfectly for others to appreciate because the words themselves carry different notes of meaning to you. Nevertheless, the aim is to try to keep your audience's jargon, their palette of words, in mind.
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