Friday, May 15, 2015

Samantha Bee And The Infinite Unfunniness

I read recently that Samantha Bee is getting her own TV show having left the Daily Show, which led me to the obvious question: why? I have never seen someone get so much airtime in a comedy show who has so little actual comedic talent; she appears, based on that scale alone, to compete with Jerry Lewis. For genuinely unfunny (and frankly creepy) material, it's hard to beat her 2006 Daily Show segment on robots (and in particular, robotic sex). But this?

I'm trying to imagine — and failing — to imagine a world in which a male comic could get on stage and as a promo for his show insult, not just every competitor, but half his audience. When Christopher Hitchens wrote his infamous Vanity Fair essay, "Why Women Aren't Funny" (since pulled from their website), he made the point that it's not that there aren't funny women, but women as a group do not have to be funny as a sexual imperative.
Why are men, taken on average and as a whole, funnier than women? Well, for one thing, they had damn well better be. The chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex, and Mother Nature (as we laughingly call her) is not so kind to men. In fact, she equips many fellows with very little armament for the struggle. An average man has just one, outside chance: he had better be able to make the lady laugh. Making them laugh has been one of the crucial preoccupations of my life. If you can stimulate her to laughter—I am talking about that real, out-loud, head-back, mouth-open-to-expose-the-full-horseshoe-of-lovely-teeth, involuntary, full, and deep-throated mirth; the kind that is accompanied by a shocked surprise and a slight (no, make that a loud) peal of delight—well, then, you have at least caused her to loosen up and to change her expression. I shall not elaborate further.

Women have no corresponding need to appeal to men in this way. They already appeal to men, if you catch my drift.
Whatever talents Bee may have, she is not a first-, second-, or even fifth-rate TV comic. Not only is she not funny, she appears to have her claws extended for her new venture. Perhaps there are male comics who get away with rank misogyny on stage; the world is full of niche acts. But in the outside world, we call this a career-limiting move.

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