Some say that he has two left hands, and his nose can tell when it will rain. All we know is that he's called DFM.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

DFM Does It Again! Life's Greatest Mystery Solved

Until I saw Jenna Fischer being interviewed on Jay Leno, I thought it was impossible for women to be funny (seriously, check her out in any talk show interview, she's always funny). I remember seeing her on a rerun whilst traveling in Scotland. When I finished the interview I went and had a cry in the bathroom because I thought my whole life had been a lie. "Have I been wrong this whole time?" I thought to myself, "are women actually funny?" But after I pulled myself together and recovered from the original shock, I realized that no, women in general are indeed not funny, but a few women (like Fischer and SNL actor, Kristen Wiig) can be. The question still remained though, "why are there so few funny women?" To answer the question I set off on a quest of epic proportions. I checked over at least half of the female comics on The Comedy Network's website (the sorry excuse for Comedy Central us Canadians are forced to live with). It took me five days and I will now report my findings.

The majority of the female comics I viewed were not funny. Their jokes could have been funny but were poorly written. I watched the routines of 50 women (I know, taking one for the team, I'm a trooper), and I can only honestly call 4 of these women's routines truly funny. My friend told me that the main reason women aren't funny is that they tend to stick "jokes" related to their societal gender roles - shopping for shoes, dieting, being on their periods - and it's true. The vast majority of the female comics I surveyed had jokes on shopping, dieiting, or otherwise being a bitch. At first I felt that this must be the reason (and to be certain it still is a reason) that women aren't funny, but then I saw a routine by Pat Brown and I was back at square one.

In the routine I watched, Pat Brown talked about her period, getting pregnant to trap a guy into paying child support, shopping, and how hard it is to find a man, all in the span of a minute and a half. Now, as anyone who has seen any female comic knows, there is nothing noteworthy about this. What makes her feat so incredible is that she actually manages to be funny while doing it. At first I thought I must have misheard her (you know, because of the laughing and all), so I watched it again, and then later I watched it again. Every time it was funny, how could this be?

I have seen female comedians make what should have been very funny jokes (I instantly recognized the wit involved in creating them), but still they elicited no laughs from my throat. So what made Pat Brown special? I went and searched out some more Pat Brown sketches on YouTube, and it was here that I found the secret to life's greatest mystery.

I watched two versions of the same Pat Brown joke. One version was typically unfunny in that way of being unfunny that female comedians are so good at being, but the second version was uproariously funny. What was the difference? Delivery and confidence. Rather than merely getting excited and shrieking out her jokes in a high-pitched, shrill squeel (i.e., be a female comedian), she had what I've heard others describe as "pressence" (actually, I don't know if she had pressence or what that even means, but I needed to wrap up this paragraph and get to the next part).

In the first version Pat Brown was dolled up like a woman and stood in the middle of the stage clutching her mic nervously, while she dragged her feet through the joke. In the second version she was bobbing and weaving and dipping and diving her way across the stage, back and forth. In fact she was working the stage just like Chris Rock or Jamie Foxx (she even sounded a little like Chris Rock). She also hadn't really bothered to fit herself out in the trappings of femininity like every other unfunny female comedian does (you're doing comedy, you're not out on a date), which took the emphases off her appearance, and allowed the audience to concentrate on her jokes (I'm also certain it allowed her to concentrate on her jokes more as well).

After discovering this key (I'm still talking about the delivery), I then went and compared various male routines. As with the the females there were many unfunny male comedians. The big difference between the comics that make your gut hurt from laughing and those who make your head hurt from smacking it, is that A-list comedians like Jimmy Carr, Jeff Foxworthy (I like him and I'm not ashamed to admit it) or Chris Rock have a comedic persona which they play up on in their acts. This persona has been fine-tuned over years of practice and enhances the comedic delivery of the owner's jokes. A well practiced male comedian can take even the basic of fart jokes and make it high class.

That brings me to the most polished female comedian I could find, Carla Collins. Although I don't consider myself an expert on writing stand-up comedy, Collins managed to nail it. I won't even bother to explain it, just click on the link (her name), and enjoy. The amazing thing is that she doesn't have a funny voice, she wears a flashy outift, and she doesn't move around. She breaks every stand-up comedy rule I have, but still manages to make me laugh... out loud... a lot. I hope Satan has a parka.

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