But Hitchens’ central thesis, that humor is rooted most firmly in the soil of self-deprecation, cruelty and scatology (male modes, one and all) was put forth as an unassailable proposition. “There are some impressive [funny] ladies out there,” he allowed. “Most of them … are hefty or dykey or Jewish” (way to stay classy, Hitch). When the inevitable blowback listed countless examples of comediennes quite a bit sexier than those Hitchens seemed to be imagining, he held his ground without flinching. “The achievement of my essay [was] to make sexier women try harder to amuse me,” he said in a video counter rebuttal. “Well, that was my whole plan to start with.”
That’s cute (actually, I found it hilarious). But was it really necessary? No, because — sorry, sisters — Hitchens was right. While there are a great many women in the world who are side-splittingly droll, I’m afraid that in the aggregate we’re just not as funny as men. Not that we can’t be, but we aren’t. I make this point not as some contrarian gesture meant to pay homage to the Hitchens’ contrarian legacy but as someone who’s been in enough classrooms and offices, gone to enough dinner parties and improv shows and watched enough “Saturday Night Live” and Comedy Central to have noticed that for every woman who actually makes people laugh out loud there are probably 10 men.