In one study, participants were asked to rank the humor in various cartoon captions. Half of the captions had been written by men, and half by women. When not told who wrote what, the participants judged them almost equally funny. In fact, based on the scores given in this experiment, men are just 2.2 percent more likely to be funny than women. Yet 90 percent of the participants agreed with the stereotype that men are funnier. Talk about a mind-bogglingly huge difference in perception versus reality.
And it gets weirder – when the participants were asked which gender they thought wrote a caption, the funnier ones were almost always assumed to be by men and the less funny ones by women. This might be expected, considering their stated bias. Even when told the name and gender of the person who wrote each caption, within a short time the participants started misattributing the funny ones to men. In other words, even when they knew that women had written some of the funniest captions, the bias that men are funnier was so ingrained that it made them misremember who had written what.
In a landmark study, one researcher found that women make the same number of jokes as men – when they’re children. But around age 6, something changes; the number of jokes girls make decreases, and it never evens out again. That’s because, around the time girls start school, society gives them a joking lobotomy, so to speak. Think back to elementary school. You probably had a class clown, and it was almost certainly a boy. Boys are allowed to be loud and funny and play practical jokes and be annoying little shits, and girls are encouraged to act like little ladies. … Which sucks, because it’s just about that age that kids start to practice and understand wordplay and more advanced humor.
I just hate [the female comedian] label. You already know I’m a female. I hate getting even introduced like that. “Y'all ready for a female?” Oh, you ready for a unicorn? Like, it’s like, you know, I’m not a different species. It’s man and woman. You have seen me before.
In all seriousness, I may be the first woman to win this award, but I am … certainly, certainly not the first one to deserve it. I don’t know — I think I’m a walking human patchwork of all the remarkable, funny women who I have loved and studied over the years, and I am only here because Carol Burnett, Jane Curtin, Phyllis Diller, Whoopi Goldberg, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn, Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Diane Keaton, Tracy Ullman, Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, and my mom … who taught me not to fear being the butt of the joke, taught me not to worry about being likable or perfect, and to lovingly go for the kill.