|Staff party 1985. That’s not my real nose, by the way.|
According to psychologists, the answer to that question is “yes.” In study after study, all other things being equal, men find funny women less attractive than women who are not funny. Wow. Who knew? I always thought that, other than being smart, and kind, and hard-working, being funny is the best thing you can be.
I come from a family where humour is deeply ingrained, and considered a most desirable trait. We laugh at everything. Quick, witty comebacks are our stock in trade. I still laugh at how my grandfather used to say that my uncle, who had super curly hair, looked like he combed his hair with the egg beater. I love that line. Or the night when I was ten or eleven and at the dinner table, referring to my supposed lack of knowledge, my Mum said, “I guess it’s time we had that talk about sex.” And my older brother, then nineteen, quipped, “Okay, Mum. What do you want to know?” Ha. That line is legendary in my family. Actually, I’ve probably told you that story before.
And, you see, the women in my family are equally as funny as the men. My grandmother was just as funny as my grandfather. Even if her wit mostly took the form of sarcasm. She had a sharp tongue, my grandmother, but if you could survive the barbs, she was very funny.
My mum is funny. She doesn’t always mean to be funny, it just comes out that way. We laughed on the phone today when I talked to her about this post. She says she can’t understand why people think she’s funny. But they do.
|Mum and my uncle Allie. 1945|
My step-father loved Mum’s dry sense of humour. Mum and I laughed today about the time I was enlisted to cut my step-father’s hair. He sat calmly in a kitchen chair, swathed in an old towel, while I tried to figure out how to wield his home barber tools. The electric trimmer, in particular. It looked like a funny electric razor, with a flat, angled head and a little comb attachment on the end. I did okay snipping the top, and shaving his neck, but using the trimmer to kind of shingle the hair up the back was tricky. I was holding it slightly away from his head, trying to carefully catch the longer strands in the comb thingie when my mum, who was working at the cupboard, said something funny, and my step-father threw back his head and laughed. Uh oh.
The razor made contact with his scalp, and, almost with a life of its own, it zipped up the entire back of my step-dad’s head, creating a two-inch wide, shaved furrow. Like a reverse mohawk. I was horrified. My step-father was sanguine. What’s a little hair? He’d be wearing his cap most of the time anyway. “No problem. Just even ‘er up, Snooze. That’ll be fine.” And when I’d evened it up, we couldn’t stop laughing at his little shaved furrow. The dangers of having a funny wife, eh?
Some of my closest girlfriends are funny, too
That’s my friend Debbie and me, below, getting our picture taken in the photo booth at Zeller’s in grade eight. Deb and I have been friends since we started school. Back when we were in our twenties, and single, we shared an apartment, actually a few apartments. Debbie is hilarious. She always makes me laugh. She’s way more funny than I am. When we’re together, I’m always the straight man. I remember back in the early eighties, when we’d hit the Ottawa bars in our high heels and best party wear, Debbie was the queen of the one-liners. The empress of the witty “piss off” comeback to an unwanted come-on from some hapless guy. Come to think of it, no wonder some men are intimidated by funny women. They’re dangerous. Ha.
|Debbie and me. Zeller’s photo booth, March 1970.|
I guess I get why men generally prefer unfunny women. But I’m glad I never knew that statistic back when I was single. So glad that I never tried to not be funny, never tried to mask my penchant for telling silly stories in order to appear more attractive. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be married to someone who doesn’t laugh at my jokes.
Well, I can imagine it, actually. And it makes me shudder and appreciate Hubby all the more.
P.S. About that first photo. When I first started teaching, one man on our small staff used to organize all our get-togethers and this one took place in the big room in the basement where the furnace was. As I recall, the head custodian would not be able to attend because he was on duty, so the organizer brought the party to him. That’s why we’re all in hard hats… health and safety rules. Ha. As for the Groucho Marx get-up… your guess is as good as mine. I do remember the Alfred Sung suit I was wearing, though. I loved that suit.
Now… how about you folks? Any thoughts? On funny women… or men… or wearing hard hats to a party… or whatever, really.