One of my first comments to this video has long since scrolled out of sight, but I am pleased to repeat it here:

I conclude that Mr. Hitchens has unconsciously selected for women with no GAG reflex... and has unintentionally confused this trait with a lack of wit. Although perhaps these two traits evolved synergistically.

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I'd argue that there are just as many genuinely funny women as men. The only difference I've encountered is that there are far more men who aren't in that category who just THINK they're funny. I'm guessing many of them ending up working as stand-up comedians, hence the gender disparity in that profession.
I agree with both of the above ladies, lol.

And some of the most brilliant female humorists write material performed by men - i.e. Sylvia Fine Kaye, who wrote most of the hilarious patter songs that her husband, Danny Kaye performed in motion pictures. When asked about his successful career, he was known to say: "I've got a Fine head on my shoulders" and "I'm a wife-made man".

Phyllis Diller's husband is said to have convinced her to become a comedian... and much of her humor was at his expense (with his blessing). She referred to him as "Fang"... as in: "Every time Fang cuts himself shaving, his eyes clear up".

Notice that somewhere in the middle of that video, Hitchens smugly admits that he pulled this little rant simply to get more attractive women to try and amuse him.
I conclude that Mr. Hitchens has unconsciously selected for women with no GAG reflex... and has unintentionally confused this trait with a lack of wit. Although perhaps these two traits evolved synergistically.

hahaha! Brilliant!

I suggest women just pull a Lysistrata tactic on ol' Hitch.

I didn't know that about Danny Kaye's wife. Thanks for the backstory!
Dear Neabh,

Here is the link to part 1 of 6 - Danny Kaye, A Legacy of Laughter
The program goes into wonderful detail about his relationship with his wife, Sylvia Fine, both professional and personal. Their one daughter, Dena Kaye, gives many personal insights. She was two years ahead of me in school.

Many more details about Sylvia and her influence in part 2:

Betty White is tops - I can't think of anyone who compares with her in the sincere, deluded, straight-faced delivery of outrageous content genre. She IS that genre:

When I was a trainee at Disney in the 1970's, Tim Conway was on the back lot performing in The Apple Dumpling Gang. Animators used to go to the back lot and watch the actors all the time, with the studio's approval. Somehow Betty White came up... and Conway recounted a dinner (a roast, perhaps?) where he heard her deliver the following line (in that naive, innocent tone):

"I have the tiniest little pussy.

(Pause... blinking... smiling innocently...)

But it's got this great big hole in it!"

(You can't beat that one, Hitch...)
Betty White is one of my favorites too! I love old episodes of Match Game that she's was on...and her small role in Lake Placid was awesome. And she made Golden Girls worth it.
I'll never forget her Sue Ann Nivens on the old Mary Tyler Moore show. Vicious delivery of the funniest lines!
I'll admit I'm not old enough or a big enough fan of older television to have watched Mary Tyler Moore...although my mother was quite the fan.
I'd like to start off by saying that I don't neccessarily agree exactly with Hitchens's argument here, but I would still like to defend him a little bit. I've read neither the original article nor the attempted rebutal, but I think this video suffices to understand at least the basics of what Hitchens tried to argue for which was not (which he makes abundantly clear several times) that there are no funny women (as the title to this thread seems to imply, though it's worded slightly differently). He is simply arguing that women as a gender, in his own words, are not funny.

That is a broad generalization perhaps, but one that, at least if Hitchens's line of reasoning is sound, is not just an identification of a statistical and accidental fact. The argument goes that men as a gender have evolved a higher capacity for wit because those among them that excelled at this got an evolutionary advantage, whereas women didn't had a need for this. It could of course be argued that there are other purposes for humor as a more general social tool unrelated to sexual reproduction. However, even if that's the case, this is something that both genders share, and in addtion to this, men have used humor in another, evolutionary significant fashion.

This conclusion, of course, could be questioned, but dismissing the argument altogether and presenting it as being an argument for a position he obviously distances himself from, brings forth in me at least, the irresistible urge to quote Hitchens in saying "that's not really getting the point, it is dear?" (and I have to say that in no way do I mean this in a sexist manner, even if Hitchens may have done so, I would respond in exactly the same way to a man).

Now, another point could be made that he should refrain from speaking in this generalized fashion, instead entitling his article "Why men tend to have a greater capacity for wit" or something similar. Not only would this title be a lot less catchy, it also seems like a little bit of nit-picking to me, at least if the person making this point wouldn't have any problem with a hypothetical article entitled "Why women aren't strong", arguing why men have gotten stronger than women over time due to the evolutionary process.

A person arguing against Hitchens here, should argue equally vigorously against an article such as the hypothetical one I just mentioned, trying to rebut it by pointing to female weightlifters as counter examples. If you would make that argument in this scenario, then fine, at least you're being consistent. I'm still leaning though, toward the position that this is needless nit-picking.

I am not typically in favor of overgeneralizations, especially not if they are motivated by prejudice (which I don't think is the case here), and especially not if the distinctions being pointed out are accidental in nature. However, if there is some sort of pattern or logical explanation behind the generalization (such as natural selection), then it needs pointing out. This is not to say that I stand for a conservative protection of the status quo in any sense, nor that I am proposing pessimistic surrender. On the contrary. If, for example, the pattern is a result of contemporary cultural tendencies I argue for a reluctance toward adherence to said tendencies in favor of individuality.

This, however, has nothing to do with the mere acknowledgement of the existence of said tendencies which, unless accidental in nature (which would require being pointed out) deserves attention, and perhaps mentioning in a magazine article. I see nothing wrong with writing about this subject in that manner, especially not if the author makes sure to point out that he does not take a stand for this tendenciy being insuperable.

Lastly, I would just like to reiterate that I have not read the original text, I have only seen this video. I am assuming that it represents the view presented in the article, partly because Hitchens repeatedly refers to making the same points in the article. If I am misled in this, if Hitchens makes strongers claims in the article than in the video, claims which in anyway implies the impossibility of female wit or otherwise arguing for something he seems to argue against in the video, or something which I have argued against here, please point this out to me.
"That is a broad generalization perhaps..."

(No pun intended?)
Ha ha, not at all! I didn't see that one. Just to reply to your accusation of hidden, unspoken statements with more of the same: Was that meant as a joke, and if so, was it an attempt at disproving Hitchens by finding humor where I was unable to?

Furthermore, was replying to my long post with a short jokingly intended (I presume) question an attempt to lighten up the mood and subtly imply that I may be taking both myself and this discussion a bit too seriously? Was it maybe even another subtle way of trying to disprove Hitchens by, as the female poster, writing short attempts at humor while the male poster goes off on long boring analyses?




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