We all know that Christopher Hitchens doesn’t think women are funny. Either that or he wrote a Swiftonian-esque proposal in that January 2007 edition of Vanity Fair. Either way, his disdain was palpable.
Like any other 20-something female you may run into this week, I went and saw the movie Bridesmaids over the weekend. And after resurrecting Hitchens’ opinion piece online today, I can’t help but picture Kristen Wiig, four years ago, throwing this particular issue of VF across the room, sitting down at her laptop and ultimately penning what, by general consensus, has become the funniest “chick flick” of all time, because it seems to me that Wiig has taken every point that Hitchens tried to make and blew it right out of the water. And has done so in heels, no less.
If you read the article, you’ll find that Hitchens would like us to think that, by nature, women cannot be funny. We just aren’t built like that. He even goes as far as to quote a Stanford research study. Stanford. That’s some heavy stuff. He also estimates that women, maybe with the potential for humor, simply can’t afford it, because we have to give birth, and shit’s about to get real, or something like that. And in another argument, Hitchens concludes that the only things that are actually funny are phallic humor and Jewish jokes. This…I can’t even comment on this.
But what Hitchens fails to even touch upon is that humor is absolutely, 100 percent subjective. And what we’ve been considering humor for the past thousand or so years was classified as such because it was the only thing getting a laugh. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that can get a laugh.
Since Hitchens’ article in 2007, we’ve seen the rise of women comedians – the likes if Tina Fey, Amy Pohler, Kathy Griffin, Chelsea Handler, etc. While the majority of these ladies had solid careers prior to Hitchens’ diatribe, I think it’s safe to say that they’ve flourished since his opinion was met with criticism from their devoted fans. Griffin has won Emmys. 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation have been gaining steam for years. And Tina Fey has become, well, Tina Fey. Not to mention, Mindy Kaling has been kicking ass with The Office, and may, just may keep it alive post-Carell.
And now enters Wiig, who first came onto my radar in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up. For years on SNL, she has carried the female weight, even so much so that she recently retired two of her characters. And now she’s co-written and starred in a film about a woman who’s best friend is engaged and enlists her to be her maid of honor. Oh, what could be more female? But everyone is enjoying it! Tell me Mr. Hitchens: how the hell did that happen?
Of course, Wiig included the gross-out factor. There’s vomit, and pooping in the street, and Jon Hamm and his sex jokes. But in my opinion, the funniest moments came in the subtle hatred between Wiig and Rose Byrne, in the unabashed persona of Melissa McCarthy’s character, Maya Rudolph’s imaginary drum solo, and, of course, who can forget the plane scene? “It’s called civil rights. This is the 90s.” It was funny in a way I’ve never experienced before, and I’m guessing funny in a way that’s going to revolutionize how people think about humor. So maybe it’s never been that women can’t be funny. Maybe it’s just that we weren’t allowed to be.
So Mr. Hitchens, maybe you’ll deny us humor, but you can’t deny that we’ve taken your challenge and met it. Because we’re women, and that’s what we do. And, to add one more thought to your epistle, maybe it’s taking guys so much work to get a giggle out of us because your dick jokes just aren’t funny. If Meg Ryan can fake an orgasm in a deli, we can certainly fake a laugh.
And… cue Beyonce’s Girls (Who Run the World).