February 13, 2010

The Funny Gene

R took a small break from his nasty flu-ness last night so we could watch a movie, The Love Guru with Mike Myers, and unfortunately I spent most of it thinking that I'd rather be reading my book. R, however, spent most of the movie watching me and asking, "You didn't think that was funny?" So then I was having flashbacks of when Sweet P's dad and I split up and he said he couldn't wait to re-watch all of the Austin Powers movies because they'd be so much funnier without me in the room.

Another old beau lamented that I could pick out a sad movie in a snow storm.

The thing is, I'm sure they were right. Watching slapstick boy-humor with me is probably my equivalent of going out to dessert with someone who's on a diet. It's so much better to enjoy carrot cake with someone who's enjoying chocolate cheesecake, especially when we exchange a few bites.

I do have a sense of humor, swear. As evidence: I once tried to read David Sedaris alone in a coffee shop and was laughing so hard I was crying and couldn't breathe and nearly peed my pants. I had to leave. Also, I have been known to embarrass my friends in the movie theater because I continue laughing long after the joke passes and the other movie-goers have gone silent.

I just happen to like a more complicated humor, one made funnier by a little bit of sadness-- the way salt makes watermelon taste so much sweeter.

But here's the truth: I don't even find The Three Stooges funny. Jokes about the size of a man's penis and watching people punch each other in the groin, really not my thing.

I've often wondered if growing up without siblings-- in the traditional sense-- made me stodgy. I never really understood children, even when I was one. I spent most of my time with adults, and I feel like I missed out on some key class about how to interact with kids, especially in the crude ways, and so maybe as an adult I don't enjoy reflecting on something I never understood as a child. Or maybe I'd feel the same way if I'd been born into a whole gaggle of siblings.

And then I wondered if my taste in comedy might be a gender thing. Maybe women don't enjoy the same kind of humor as men. That would explain why all of the previews before _The Love Guru_ were for action/adventure blow-things-up kind of movies, wouldn't it?

I googled around and found this:

"How many times have you sat on the couch with your significant other while he harrumphs with amusement at some inane comedian's comments about mothers-in-law/girlfriends/tits and ass in general, sees that you're not joining in the fun and attempts to 'explain' the 'joke' to you.

"'I know what he meant, dear. I just don't actually find it that funny,' is a frequent response in our house." -- Carol Hunt, Independent.ie

Hunt goes on to discuss a very small Stanford brain study that suggests that women and men have different responses to humor. The scientists theorize that women don't expect jokes to be funny, so when something is funny it has a bigger pay off. Our brain's reward center lights up like a jackpot. Other studies show that there isn't much difference between what makes a man or a woman laugh, that people's personality types (extroverted or introverted) determine what will get a giggle.

My psychology teacher in college liked to say that there's more difference among genders than there is between them, and I think she must have been right because my friend L actually enjoys watching Goldmember-type movies with her husband. She also says that people like me are the reason Mariah Carey (and her sappy music) is famous today-- which really isn't fair; I haven't listened to Mariah Carey since high school, which was a very, very long time ago.

Next up in the Netflix que: Absolutely Fabulous. Can you believe I've never seen it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I've never enjoyed Jerry Lewis or, Jim Carey. I don't they are funny but get this, I loved watching Stepbrothers and as I watched, I found myself laughing at really stupid scenes. On the other hand, Leisure did not laugh once, even crack a smile, nada. What's that about? Love, Mom