By Jeanne Corrigan
Women are funny creatures. I know because women’s humor is a part of my daily life — research participants often show flashes of wit and some are downright hilarious. At On Your Mark, the office chats are full of quick retorts and funny perspectives as are my own conversations with friends.
When I think about women and humor, I’m reminded of a quote from the movie “When Harry Met Sally” – “Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste.” While I agree that not everyone can have good taste, what about a sense of humor, is it possible that all women have a sense of humor?
Woman-to-woman humor is unique and inclusive. We tend to laugh together – it’s a shared experience, particularly among close friends because it’s about seeing a situation, or the absurdity of the situation, in the same way. Women tend to be collaborators in their humor while men are more individual performers. Men often set-up a joke, deliver the punch line and wait for laughs. Humor among male friends includes sarcasm and a lot of good-natured ribbing. And it seems men want to share that kind of humor with women, too. According to a survey of 331,138 eHarmony male users, men are most interested in women who have “guy humor,” which consists of “sarcastic, juvenile, geeky or raw” jabs.
In female relationships, humor is about a shared perspective and it often defines the potential for friendship. In fact, the line between casual acquaintance and good friend is often set by how often and how much humor can be shared. You don’t just laugh with the women you are closest with, you cackle, literally fall off your chair, and turn heads at restaurants.
When I was in my 20s, I moved from working in an ad agency in the Midwest to working in a regional bank in New England. I felt completely out of place because no one seemed to “get me” and my sense of humor. Then, in the middle of a boring meeting, I began smiling to myself about something funny and I noticed someone else was suppressing a smile, too. That smile was a sign that there just might be someone in that bank that I could connect with and maybe become friends. That was 15 years ago and Lorrie Burns is still one of my closest friends, all because of a smile in a dull presentation.
Finding the same things funny is often the first hint that another woman might “get us.” And we are closest to those women who do. So, in thinking about the original question – can all women have a sense of humor – it seems to me that most women are funny to someone. And that someone likely laughs about the same things we do . . . so maybe we can all have a sense of humor.