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The Difference Gender Makes to Humour and Comedy in Contemporary British Culture.

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The Difference Gender Makes to Humour and Comedy in Contemporary British Culture. The purpose of this essay is to look at the difference gender makes to humour and comedy in contemporary British culture. It will do this by firstly looking at the history of women's humour. It will then explore the production of humour and comedy, and then the consumption of humour and comedy with gender differences. Humour is a universal human characteristic which all cultures posses. In the British society it is important to have humour, it is seen as a demonstration of health and well being. Gindele states of humour: 'even laughter is a sign: it can signify pleasure, "detached" amusement, and anxiety'.(1994, p159). Humour is a way of relieving tension. Theorists such as Wagg (1998), say that all clowns were male in the 1940's, for example Charlie Chaplin and Max Miller. Even a cursory glance through the archives of popular British comedy between the 1930's and the advent of 'alternative comedy' in the 1980's reveals both a numerical lack of roles for female comics and that the available roles fulfil a relatively narrow range of comic stereotypes. (Porter,1998, p.65). According to Alice Sheppard (1995), women rarely ranked among important comedians. It was in the 19th century that some female writers became humorists, but it was more problematic for female comics. Porter says there is a lack of early documentation of comic performers, she argues that this is because there were fewer female comics or they were written out of history. ...read more.


According to Freud 'jokes are the sublimated outlets of the expression of both hostility and sexual desire'. (Gindele, 1994, p.140). Women are the butt of men's dirty jokes and become 'objects'. Finney (1994) argues that its evident from men's dirty jokes that women are shown to be inadequate by referring to the sexual and domestic services they offer for men. 'They become objects designed to cater for the needs of men'.(Legman, 1968, p.136). Jo Brand (1998) feels that men don't have any respect for women. Legman says that this is clear in jokes, which are about humorous definitions of womanhood or female roles. Jokes are perceived to be merely a vehicle for expressing views about women. Chapman and Gadfield (1976) found that this objectification of women made them feel less threatened by women as their social status rose. Although theorists such as McGhee and Wagg prove that women are the butt of the joke, Plamer (1994) argues that women prefer the butt of a joke to be female, regardless of the theme. This is supported by Zillman and Stocking's (1976) finding that 'women prefer self-disparaging humour regardless of whether the self mocker is male or female, whereas men prefer humour that mocks somebody else, especially when the other is female'.(Palmer, 1976, p.69). McGhee says that the role of self-disparagement can be seen in the routines of professional comedians. Jo Brand is a female comedian who self-disparages herself; she constantly refers to body size and eating. ...read more.


In conclusion, this essay has demonstrated the differences gender makes to humour and comedy by looking at the changes it has gone through and examining the production and consumption of humour and comedy in contemporary British culture. When we look at early humour and comedy, theorists such as Wagg and Porter show that there were very few female humorists and comedians. Differences in humour appear to start from a very early age, as Sheppard found that humour is not an appropriate form of behaviour from young girls whilst it is from boys. McGhee found that women were brought up to act in the correct way in public and so this is why they laugh at jokes which are not funny, as it is the right thing to do in a particular situation. Jo brand says that men do not respect women and so they are treated as objects, this is why men laugh at women and women self-disparage themselves, as they know that men are viewing them as objects. According to Wagg men feel under threat from women as their social status has risen. So although inequalities are lessening, women will always be 'joked' about by men because it makes men feel that they are still in control of women. The main difference that gender makes to humour and comedy is that women feel the need to self-disparage themselves whilst men joke about women and sex. Today there are many more female humorists and comedians and, as inequalities decrease, the differences in humour decrease and women can laugh and joke about men, but they will always self-disparage themselves. ?? ?? ?? ?? 6 1 ...read more.

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