html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Wondering.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wondering.

I was profoundly ostracized as a kid; it has been a long time since that was a problem, but it left me incapable of watching people target one person for scorn or unkind humor. My muscles stiffen and my stomach seizes and I turn my head. I will always know that mean attention could turn towards me. My attention in general is very local; I care very much about people I know personally and the place I live; the depth of my caring decreases directly with increasing distance and decreasing familiarity. Finally, I am profoundly averse to conflict. I’ll take action to avoid it long before I realize what I’m doing.

I think that some combination of those facets of my personality are the reasons that I don’t get internets trolling (gratuitous conflict) or schadenfreude about celebrities (mean bandwagon) or even sociopolitical outrage at the last stupid thing someone said* (too distant to care). If you do get worked up over this stuff, imaginary internets people, can you explain why to me?

I can imagine that maybe you think it is unfair!, unfair! that some talentless hack should have so much attention, when you are so much more worthy. But why give that person even more of your attention, when you could be working on your masterpiece or walking the dog? Or maybe you think that someone wrote a wrong thing! But so what? Do you think you can correct that person? Do you think that by demonstrating their ignorance to them, they will revise their opinion? Even if you could, why care what an imaginary person thinks? Is it just some trick of your brain, that you become tremendously invested in an argument or conversation that will change nothing and won’t even taste yummy after you have put in all that time?

I myself have a compulsive streak, and I know full well that I can get sucked into behavior that is fully engaging but not good for me. But these internets tricks (trolling, outraged arguments over abstract stuff, meanness about strangers) are strange to me. If you have some experience with them, would you please explain how you got caught up?







*I sorta wanted to do a post on Christopher Hitchens’ article in Vanity Fair about why women aren’t funny. It should be relevant to me. I mean, I’m a chick and it is important to my self-image that I am funny. I might even have some authority to speak on the matter, ‘cause I’ve demonstrated that I can be funny and other people have told me so. To the extent I could get interested, I mostly wondered how Hitchens and the editorial board at Vanity Fair could publish a piece like that. I mean, I assume they are bright, verbal people; among the bright, verbal people I know, wit and funniness is distributed about evenly among women and men. So I assume that at the very point that they sat in one room, deciding to run a piece on why women aren’t funny, there were some funny women present. I thought Hitchens’ reasoning was based on very broad statements about gender that didn’t ring true for my tribe, and that he was working backward from an arbitrary premise and that it might contribute to yucky stereotypes and whah whah whah bad article. But I mostly don’t understand the state of mind that allowed the Vanity Fair editorial staff to run an opinion that the evidence of their own persons shows to be wrong in fact. Why not instead print an opinion explaining why men can breathe underwater better?

Anyway, I was mildly worked up about it, and even getting ready to type, but then I didn’t care enough. An article in a national magazine doesn’t make me less funny and they’re imaginary and have shown bad judgment. I just can’t care much what they think.

59 Comments:

Blogger Bob V said...

I was profoundly ostracized as a kid.

How did you get over this? Why are you normal now?

Do you ever get angry at the people who get angry at other people?

4:07 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

Re both the Vanity Fair article (hated it too! did you see this response to it?), and trolling: Sometimes people just want to fight. I think there's a place in society for contentious argument. There's a fair way to go about it, and an unfair way.

The unfair way is cruel and improperly personal, ie: "You must think that 'cause you're a loser." But lots of people, me included, say things on the Internet they wouldn't in person, and think it doesn't count the same.

but it left me incapable of watching people target one person for scorn or unkind humor.

I'm with you. I am so bad that if I can tell it's about to happen on a TV show, I have to turn it off or leave the room, even if it's just some silly sitcom.

But I've notice that some of the worst perps are former or current ostracizees themselves. Rather than developing empathy, they react the opposite way -- it's like they're trying to even some universal score by lording it over people in worse positions any chance they get. I've had some really unappealing men actually try to impress me by telling stories about cruelty toward others. It was like they were trying to say, "Look, there's someone I'm above."

There was a study recently that found overweight kids (who presumaby were teased for it) were more likely to lie, spread rumors, and bully smaller kids. I've noticed that to be true with adults. In law school, the nastiest students were usually the ones either with low grades (for guys at least), and/or, um, socially unrewarded appearances.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Small minds talk about people, Good Minds talk about events, Great minds talk about ideas" I'd have to say what little I've seen of your blog you fall sounds in the last 3rd of the paraphrased quote.

I think the vanity fair article fails in its inability to separate "being funny" as in the capacity to be funny vs. the act of being funny.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Honestly, I don't know thing one about Hitchens, and am happy to assume that he is just a guy that I don't agree with much. But what about the VF editorial board who decided to run the article? Did they cop-out and decide an article that they knew for fact described a false concept was worth disseminating for the traffic it would bring? That's pretty cheap.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

I think the Vanity Fair article was just trying to make a splash and it was pretty tongue-in-cheek. But I admit I didn't read the whole thing. Because Lord knows, I'm HELLA funny.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

By the way, I also think that the article would have had more merit if it were, itself, at all funny.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous quirkybook said...

1) Meanness on the internet: I honestly think a lot of this is the result of profound boredom. Many people who are mean on the internet would never be mean to someone face-to-face, and conflict does have some pleasurable facets to it: adrenaline rush, engagement of passions, something to talk about when normal work or play is not engaging enough.

2) Hutchins piece: I am actually not fundamentally turned off by this piece the way you are, because many things he brought up do ring true for me. Some of the stuff he said were flat out wrong (dude should check out Erma Bombeck or Mimi Smartypants for funny writings about babies), and some of it offensive (where does he get of characterizing "Jewish" humor as "masculine"?) But on the whole, you know what? It IS my experience that the funny men I know in my life are more broadly funny than the funny women, who often exhibit some kind of "niche" humor. (I do, however, tend to agree with Fran Lebowitz's comment about how Hitchens's notion of "humor" may inherently be something that is male-centric and excludes female funniness. And in the end, that may be the major problem with the article.)

7:21 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

the article would have had more merit if it were, itself, at all funny

Very good point, Dubin. As opposed to this wheezy crap:

"One tiny snuffle that turns into a wheeze, one little cut that goes septic, one pathetically small coffin, and the woman's universe is left in ashes and ruin. Try being funny about that, if you like."

Whereas fathers, of course, think dead babies are just hilarious.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blah blah, women aren't as funny as men. At least not to me. There are female comedians I find funny, but none of them have me laughing to the point tears are running down my face like so many of the male comedians.

I can't think of any women I've ever known that I've considered to be very funny. Some were kind of amusing, but, again, I've had very few exchanges with women where I'm really laughing hard. With my male friends, though, it's pretty common.

And, as far as the article itself not being funny, that's a ridiculous point. I don't think he was trying to be a comedian. I think he was just trying to point out that in social situations the males tend to be the funnier ones.

In my experience he's right.

Justin

9:45 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I thought that might be your take on this Justin, mostly because you've recommended to me before that I be funny.

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But, it has nothing to do with you. My experience is that I laugh a lot more with the guys than with the girls.

I don't know why that is exactly. Maybe that I'm not supposed to laugh at girls. I mean, if one of my male friends hurts himself I'm likely laughing at him, when it's a girl I'm supposed to be all concerned for her well being. I don't know.

Justin

11:06 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

Here's part of the problem. Something's got to be ugly (or at least flawed) to be funny. But everyone wants women to be beautiful and act perfect.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say you don't get worked up by internet people or imaginary people...er..um.. I'm not so sure.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than that Spungen, women want us to think of them as beautiful and perfect. We're not supposed to laugh at their misfortunes.

We're supposed to have a completely different response when a girl tells a story about how things went wrong.

In fact, an example. My brother driving down to my parent's place for Thanks Giving. He ran his car out of gas on the highway, and called to tell me about it. I called him stupid for a few reasons, and told him to enjoy the walk in the cold.

But, if a girl called me with the same story my response would be totally different, it would be more along the lines of, are you ok, do you want me to drive up, I'll call someone for help, blah blah blah.

And, if I did laugh, and call her stupid, and give her the same shit I gave my brother she'd call me a jerk and never talk to me again.

Justin

12:01 AM  
Anonymous jens said...

Damn, Justin, I'd hate to be you brother!

Unless, after the laugh, you actually did give me that ride.

If I knew you'd do that, I'd be laughing right along with you.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous redfoxtailshrub said...

All the friends I have who regularly tell stories that make me laugh my ass off are all women. It may be, however, that they are more likely to let loose and be really funny with other women, rather than with men or in mixed company. Or maybe it's harder for men to relax and enjoy what they're being funny about? I'm thinking of one woman in particular who is incredibly, mind-blowingly funny about the adventures she has in connection with her (serious) health problems.

5:47 AM  
Blogger Dubin said...

MEGAN -- WHY DON'T YOU TELL US ANY FUNNY STORIES EVER?????

What is wrong with you?

If you were a guy, I'd have tears rolling down my face every day reading this blog.

xodo

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where does he get of characterizing "Jewish" humor as "masculine"

No kidding. This is clearly a man without a Jewish mother.

Fran Lebowitz's comment about how Hitchens's notion of "humor" may inherently be something that is male-centric and excludes female funniness. And in the end, that may be the major problem with the article.

I agree.

I've accepted that I don't have what men call a sense of humor, and I'm fine with that. There are plenty of things I find funny, and I'm capable of provoking laughter in others from time to time. But there are also a lot of ideas and situations I don't find funny at all. I've noticed a lot of people - in my experience, a lot of male people - think everything is potential joke fodder, and that if you aren't amused you must be innately humorous.

So, fine, I'm not funny. Maybe women - on average, not universally - aren't funny. What's wrong with that?

6:00 AM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Uh, Capella,I hate to break it to you but you're kinda funny.

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arguing online is much easier than arguing in person. You have to be able to think fast when engaged in a face-to-face verbal exchange in order to come up with your own cutting remarks and counter the other person. Once the argument is over there's a good chance you'll mentally kick yourself and think "Why didn't I say [pithy remark]"? When arguing online, in contrast, there's much less immediacy. There's more time to think over and refine your statements, and you won't get caught tongue-tied and be humiliated if your opponents makes a particularly devastating remark and you can't think immediately of what to say in response.

I didn't read the Hitchens article. To the extent that humor has a self-deprecating element, however, it's not at all surprising that men are funnier. For reasons I cannot begin to explain, most people find it funny when men make fools of themselves but see no humor whatsoever in women doing the same (consider Justin's comment about his brother running out of gas). The "Doofus Dad" is a staple of televison sitcoms, e.g. Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, but there's no female equivalent.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fun facts about Hitchens, that aren't really funny, per se. But then I'm ... well we won't go into my gender:

1) He puts whiskey in his morning coffee. At 9AM there is booze in his coffee cup. He's that kind of drunk.

2) Years ago (1989) he got wind of the fact that The Nation was planning to send interns to DC to a big pro-choice march to distribute copies of the magazine and do some outreach stuff. He chose, as was his right as a columnist, to devote his column to an outrageous anti-abortion screed. He did that just to be pissy and vindictive. He doesn't really belive that abortion is so terrible as evidenced by ...

3) Also many years ago as his first marriage was ending (over? as I recall the story, there wasn't any particular issue about him having a girlfriend--the marriage was over) he accidently knocked up his much, much younger girlfriend. Like any self respecting adult who'd fertilized and egg he didn't want to actually hatch, he paid for her abortion. With his credit card. Unfortunately, he forgot (oops) that the bill for this particular card was still going to his ex-wife.

That takes a special kind of hypocrisy. Hitchens is too easy a punching bag, he makes a living by being contrary.

PS. yeah, yeah, Megan, I know you can tell exactly who I am, but I don't feel like putting my name on this one because I am a coward.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Bob V said...

I think Peter is onto something. I think we generally care about things, but we don't argue in person because it is a bit rude. We bite our tounges because it isn't appropriate to have a long in-person debate about something that doesn't really matter. Usually, we just accept that the other person doesn't agree.

On the web though, we don't have that same obligation to just accept what the other person says. It becomes ok to call people out.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous thelonious_nick said...

I too have a hard time getting worked up by things outside my immediate world, and sometimes even by things in my immediate world. This is actually a problem for me at this very moment because our recently-purchased-from-Dell computer has a major problem that is clearly hardware-related but after 40+ hours on the phone with their technical people I am unable to get any of them to admit that it might be a hardware problem.

Clearly, I need to become a nasty, yelling, cursing person to receive satisfaction from this company, but I find myself unable to get outraged enough to do this, especially when I know that some customer service representive will have to suffer for something that's not really his fault.

I too find it hard to understand why people get so worked up about things. But in cases like this, I do admire people who are able to do so.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course Hitchens is funny...he's a "court jester". Anyone who saw Galloway rip him apart knows that...

7:59 AM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

Bov V, she isn't normal now. For one thing.

For another, she got over it by going to college and discovering that there is a wide, wide world of geeks, dweebs, dorks and other candidates for ostracism out there. Bossy booger girls[1], if you will. And if she was anything like me when she got to college she laughed a lot.

Funniness comes from shared experiences, and sometimes trust. And girls have a lot of shared experiences that they don't share with guys. Same same like guys do. I have friends who can get tears running down my face scheming brilliant plans that involve, um, you know, hygeine products. We're think we are really funny. Usually if there are men around they look a little uncomfortable (no, we do not do this at the dinner table). Does that mean that men don't have a sense of humor? No, it is consistent with the assertion that in general, menstruation is something that many more women than men find funny.

I think that plenty of women are fucking hysterical. Often, men's jokes fall flat with me. N and his tight friends can get going on some threads that I just don't get at all. So Capella doesn't have what men would call a sense of humor. But she maybe does have what women would call a sense of humor.

I could take this all to a really scary Men are from Mars place, but that isn't the point. There is an article in Rolling Stone this week about the Dinka people of Sudan. Part of their male coming of age ritual involves scarring a boys scalp in some sort of painful way. If he flinches, he's considered a coward. Hazing isn't funny. Later it is, and it can be fun while you're doing it. But your brother putting up with it instead of telling you to fuck off doesn't make it "funny" -- funny is different. Unless he actually called you so you could make him feel better about the whole fiasco by making him laugh. Which is a thing that women do all the time, call their friends to talk about some major fuck up and have a good laugh about it. You call friends that you trust, though. Friends who will laugh hard with you but not cross your private line from making it all okay into making you feel like shit. For all kinds of reasons, it doesn't surprise me that on some vague and general level lots of women find that trust in other women.

[1] Withycombe/Dubin, 1994

8:18 AM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

Okay, PS, Justin you and your brother are the only ones who know whether or not he resents you for being a jerk about that whole car-ran-out-of-gas episode. Maybe he is a man, so he has to put up with it, cuz heaven forbid he look like a sissy. Or maybe he called you for some levity and got it.

Either way, he called trusting you to respond in the way that he needed you to respond.

I'm not saying you are a jerk. I'm saying that maybe I wouldn't choose to call you if I needed help and I was tired and feeling stupid enough already, but I might call you if I was getting a shitload of sympathy and wanted someone to talk to who might think it was sort of funny that I fucked up like that.

When I flew to a really small town in Tennessee on the wrong weekend for a workshop I was supposed to be at (a really small town) I definitely called a friend who would laugh hard about it, give me a fair amount of shit, and then look up some fun things for me to do in the smokey mountains. When my brother's fan belt snapped on the freeway when I was tired and it was late, I called someone who would help me figure out what I was supposed to do. Which friends are which is a distinction some people never do figure out. So they call Justin when they shoulda called Megan. Has nothing to do with funny or not funny, you know?

8:33 AM  
Blogger Bob V said...

Thanks, Amanda. How did she make friends with the "geeks, dweebs, dorks and other candidates" after being ostracized for so long? When I was a kid and someone tried to befriend me, it was usually so that they could hurt me 2-7 minutes later to gain status within their own peer group. This made me very cautious about making friends in the first place. I'm still overly cautious.

My technique for getting over it was humor as well. However, I made general comments to whoever was around rather than sharing funny moments with particular friends. Eventually I got good enough at it that some groups wanted to have me around.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous jens said...

In my "Damn, Justin, I'd hate to be you[r] brother!" comment, I wasn't entirely sure, but I am not sure whether he was actually being a jerk, or just playing one for the audience, and I strongly suspect the latter.

If he and his brother really trust each other, and know they can rely on each other, they can totally say that sort of thing with nothing but humor taken.

But since I don't particulary know him, there is just that mote of uncertainty!

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amanda, isn't part of it that women haven't been *allowed* to be funny.. I mean, in public spaces, women laughing has been seen in many cultures as not on (maybe even flirtatious ...I still see some girls put their hands over their mouths when smiling).

secondly, I guess men can take it if their male friends take the piss out of them but if a woman does it then it can become an ego issue. no?

I didn't get the point about 'unkind humour'..isn't a lot of humour unkind in that it is at the expense of someone else?

9:24 AM  
Blogger Spungen said...

When I was a kid and someone tried to befriend me, it was usually so that they could hurt me 2-7 minutes later to gain status within their own peer group.

OMG, Bob, how mean! Why'd they single you out -- ethnic issues? Like I said above, though, I'll bet the kids who did that were social losers themselves. Cold comfort, I know, but still.

Re my VF comment above, I should admit that 1) I did in fact used to find "dead baby" jokes funny and 2) now having a baby, I don't expect that I would so much. Dead baby jokes are a very, very small portion of the jokes in most people's arsenal, though.

I remember when I was back in college, a female friend and I considered ourselves just hilarious. Just like guys, when we sought to impress, we would trot what we thought were our wittiest, funniest little acts. But we usually found that with men, we were better off being dull, and letting them try to impress us. Ironically, this was especially true with the so-called "funny guys." Humorousness was more of a liability than an asset, because it implied that we felt we had to make an effort. What for a guy was clever, for us was just obnoxious and overeager. Doesn't mean we weren't good at it, though -- just that you bastards out there didn't appreciate it.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's my point though. Look how much you've had to say about whether or not I'm a jerk for the out of gas thing. For men, that's the norm. That's the treatment I expect from other guys, that's the treatment I give my male friends.

Now, when it finally comes down to it, if they really need help they'll tell me and I'll go help. It wasn't that long ago my friend's truck broke down on the highway not too far from my apartment, he called me up, I gave him a bunch of shit. But, I did go pick him up, then ended up sitting in the bed of his truck, on the side of the highway in the rain during rush hour traffic with him waiting for the tow truck.

That same guy, my oldest friend, knocked out one of my teeth when we were younger then laughed at me as the blood started running out of my mouth. His typical greeting to me is, "God, when are you going to die?"

Guys are all good with this, at least most of my male friends are. And, it's ok for people to laugh at that kind of behavior when it's between men. But, is it really acceptable for men to treat women like that? Women expect a completely different response from us.

Imagine if I accidentally knocked one of my girlfriend's teeth out, then laughed at her. What would anyone think of me?

Justin

12:18 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Bob V.:
I talked about some of my re-socialization in my post called Remediation. But I can address it again, if you like.

eDubin!:
You always crack me up, which is pretty good, for a girl.

11:06 Justin:
My experience is that I laugh a lot with all of the following people: Margie, the Funnier Megan, Alysia, eDubin and her husband, best friend Chris, Anand, Steve M., my sister, Claudia... It comes out pretty even when I think about who makes me laugh out loud.

Billo:
Humor doesn't have to be unkind to a person to be funny. You can laugh at the situation. My previous post was funny because I was mocking an imaginary persona and no one got hurt.

Spungen:
I am unimpressed with funny people who only like to be around straightmen. I love funny people who escalate together.

12:18 Justin:
Oh hon. The women I know are quick to give men and each other shit. When Chris and I broke up (in '92, y'all. Don't get all het up about a reunion.) I was on my way to LA. I cried on BART, I cried in the airport, I cried the whole plane trip. My mom and sister picked me up, took one look at my face and asked what happened. "Chris broke up with me." I sniffled. Long pause, until my sister said "You know, no one has ever broken up with me." 'Nother pause, and my Mom chimed in with "Me neither. It must be awful to get dumped." The funny was all in the pauses and the delivery, but I think you will notice that they had no hesitation about mocking a woman in a tragic situation.

(Also, I wouldn't find making fun of anyone who got their teeth knocked out funny, because I generally don't like physical humor.) (Also, we could just say that we have different tastes in humor without saying that men or women aren't funny.)

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, men and women may have different senses of humor. Which is why I started my first response with, "Blah blah, women aren't as funny as men. At least not to me."

But, still, more is off limits with women. Men are supposed to be all, "Ahhh, are you ok?" with women, but anying goes with other men.

So, same situation. When Jaclyn, my first g/f, who I had been with 4 years, broke up with me, and told me that she'd been cheating on me with other people, I called my oldest friend, Justin (another Justin, not myself.).

I was absolutely devestated, and I'm sure he knew that. But, first, he wouldn't believe me when I told him what happened. When I finally convinced him I was serious, his first response to me was, "Well, you're just a big loser, aren't you?"

Justin

12:55 PM  
Blogger Bob V said...

Megan, thank you for the reference. I figured you had, but I missed it for some reason.

Spungen, it may have been ethnic issues, but I'm not sure. I think once I started feeling hated it got me on a different trajectory where I became more and more different from others so even people who otherwise would have liked me didn't have any choice but to be turned away.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, "to feel hated " .. I can see it hasn't had much of an impact on you since you always sound so innocent and positive.

I remember when growing up being chased by a gang of football hooligans, running for my life. And on another running from someone with a metal bar who told my mother he wanted to "kill the blackie". (looking back on that I can't stop laughing ...Kashmiris are themselves so racist!)

What I most remember from that was our mam saying -i think these were lines from some Urdu poem:
In truth, it is your eyes that glow dimly,
your words that are black like ashes,
your heart that is full of darkness.

Megan, yes, you are right. Unkind words can cut deeply. I apologize for mine to you. Totally :)

2:42 PM  
Blogger Pandax said...

I'm always way too late to these conversations... .

I experience a lot of teasing as a kid. Alas, my parents did not develop my sense of humor as a child, so I didn't take the name-calling well.

Meanness stems from many things: a need to feel superior, jealousy, insecurity, and misunderstandings.

Meanness on the Internet is easy because people don't have to face one another and blowing things out of proportion because ideas can stew by the time the response comes around.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

Spungen, it may have been ethnic issues, but I'm not sure.

Bob, I'm inclined to suspect it was, given that I don't know of any other significantly different thing about you. Also, having experienced the same difficulty myself. Also having seen it happen to just about every other kid who was the lone member of his or her group in a particular situation, no matter what the group was. It's not always true racism so much as politics -- with no natural allies, you're a target.

Since junior high, I've frequently been amazed at the radically different way I get treated depending on who my friends are (or aren't) or are perceived to be. I've never seen much correlation between how I act and how I get treated. People grow up and like to analyze how they could have made things turn out differently if they'd behaved differently. I doubt it would have worked, in most cases.

Megan and Pandax: Meanness is never OK, but conflict on the Internet is fun because it removes all physical threat. In real life, a lot of men will loom, shout over you, get in your face and intimidate you. Women will shriek you down or do catty things you can't directly counter, like whisper to each other in little groups and look at you. On the Internet, everyone's equal.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

I haven't read the Hitchens piece, but I saw a blurb about it. My first reaction when I saw it was to think, "do I know of any funny women?" and my next thought was "hey, Megan's funny". And then I moved on.

Seriously, that was my actual thought process. Way before I saw this blog entry.

I'm also a fan of Heather Havrilesky, who writes for Salon, and Jill Soloway, who wrote for Six Feet Under, and even Shonda Rhimes, who created Grey's Anatomy. And Mimi Smartypants, of course.

It does seem to me like From the Archives has gotten more serious over time, though.

What I find interesting about this discussion is that people seem to be taking Hitchens more seriously than people took Larry Summers. I would think that stereotype threat would be a bigger obstacle to being funny than to being smart.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

It does seem to me like From the Archives has gotten more serious over time, though.

Some would say 'pedantic'. It is true; I was funnier more often back in the spring. I've thought about how to get back to that.

Also, you freakshows act all interested when I put up long rants or descriptions. That only encourages me, you know.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Bob V said...

I can see it hasn't had much of an impact on you

Billo, you're right. I don't think I suffer too much from it. However, I had a friend in college who went through the exact same things that I did but he somehow never got out of it. He just kept trying to be nice to people...but he was too nice. He asked what I had done, and I didn't have much of a clue.

"do I know of any funny women?" and my next thought was "hey, Megan's funny".

You guys are finally putting the picture together! Megan's written by men!

4:46 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

He just kept trying to be nice to people...but he was too nice.

Do you think that behavior was the cause of his rejection, though, or just an effect? (And I don't want an answer with any "R-squareds" in it!) Obviously I'd take the "effect" side.

BTW, Billo, I apologize for calling you a white guy in an earlier post.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

Also, you freakshows act all interested when I put up long rants or descriptions. That only encourages me, you know.

When there's a funny, light post I usually don't have much to add. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate them. Maybe I should post more "lol" comments?

How about this: regular readers, what's your favorite From the Archives post? I think mine is still this one.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

My favorites are categorized under: Favorites.

You're welcome.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Bob V said...

Do you think that behavior was the cause of his rejection, though, or just an effect?

I don't know! And I don't know what it was in my case either. All I know is that it is a vicious circle. If you feel isolated and that everyone hates you, the other kids don't invite you out for cocktails. And when that happens, it further reinforces your belief that everyone hates you. I was *mean* to a number of very sweet, well-intentioned girls solely because other mean people had previously conditioned me to distrust everyone. I don't know what the primordial event was. Perhaps it was a racially motivated. Perhaps another student was in a bad mood one day. Does it even matter?

6:53 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

Does it even matter?

To me, it does. I'm a big digger in the dirt. I think that's how we find solutions, by finding causes.

I talked about some of my re-socialization in my post called Remediation. But I can address it again, if you like.

Yes, Megan, address! I like.

I read Remediation, and it was hard to tell if you were talking about you, or other people, and if so who.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should admit that 1) I did in fact used to find "dead baby" jokes funny and 2) now having a baby, I don't expect that I would so much. Dead baby jokes are a very, very small portion of the jokes in most people's arsenal, though.

Spungen! I'm shocked to hear that you once liked dead baby jokes. I thought they appealed to the sorts of people who find picking your nose and eating it the height of cleverness. But you? It's like finding out that Mother Theresa was a big fan of bestiality movies.

By the way, what's the difference between a truckload of bowling balls and a truckload of dead ba - oh wait, you don't like the jokes anymore. Sorry.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

3:18 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

I thought they appealed to the sorts of people who find picking your nose and eating it the height of cleverness.

My favorite comedians are Chris Elliot, Sarah Silverman, and Andy Dick.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Hmmmm,

Perhaps we can call up the folks at the Cartoon Network and figure out the percentage breakdown of male and female viewers during Adult Swim (excluding those bizarre Japanimation shows) and just settle this "who's funnier debate" once and for all? Deal?

ANYWAY, all I'm saying here is that Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a pretty funny show.

Todd

5:14 PM  
Blogger Bob V said...

Steven Wright! He's the bestest comedian ever:
I went into this bar and sat down next to a pretty girl. She looked at me and said, "Hey, you have two different colored socks on." I said, "Yeah, I know, but to me they're the same because I go by thickness."

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steven Wright! He's the bestest comedian ever:
I went into this bar and sat down next to a pretty girl. She looked at me and said, "Hey, you have two different colored socks on." I said, "Yeah, I know, but to me they're the same because I go by thickness."


I can't believe it took me a couple minutes to get that joke!


Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Well,

If we're going the observational humor route...how bout this Mitch Hedberg line:

"I saw a wino eating grapes once, and I said, hey, dude, you gotta wait."

Ba-dum-cha!

I'm still waiting for a verdict on my Adult Swim comment. But, I've mostly resigned to the fact that it will remain unanswered.

Todd

11:53 PM  
Anonymous yoyo said...

of course men are funnier. its hard to think otherwise. Its probably mostly because of that men have more interest both in putting on persona, and puncturing the personas of sexual competitors.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Spungen said...

Todd, is "Drawn Together" part of "Adult Swim?" If so, check me off as yes.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Spungen,

Drawn Together I believe resides on Comedy Central, not Cartoon Network...once it has a fair amount of episodes it may well be picked up.

Though I think the cartoons airing these days are the funniest shows on television (South Park, Simpsons, Family Guy, Aqua Teen, Sealab, Futurama) I actually don't particularly care for Drawn Together. To be fair, I haven't given it much of a shot at all. I was under the impression it was kind of just a gross out show, am I wrong?

Also, I did get around to finally reading the Hitchens column, and I thought he made some interesting anecdotal points that do very little to definitely prove if one sex is funnier than the other. Though, I suspect, with humor, there will always only be anecdotal evidence as it's not really something that can be measured. I'm gonna go ahead and cast my vote for the men though (shocking, i know), and I don't believe it's even that close. Sorry girls.

Sheepishly,
Todd

1:50 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

I was under the impression it was kind of just a gross out show,

Oops. I TiVo it so I forgot the channel. "Drawn Together" features humor of the current event, racist, gay, religious and disabled varieties as well as gross-out.

I will check out "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." I don't know why I never bothered, except maybe the "Teen" in the title subconsciously made me think I was outside its target viewership.

Re images getting in the way of humor: Some friends and I went to one of those male stripper shows, and one of the hunky strippers passed out fliers for his standup comedy act (in which he joked about his stripper career). My friend was sure this wouldn't work due to his hunkiness. "In comedy, you're making yourself the joke, and you can't be a joke and be a sexy hunk at the same time."

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Just be forewarned, that Aqua Teen is an acquired taste...but if you give it a chance, you'll grow to love Meatwad, Carl, and the gang.

Many people have a tough time getting by the first few episodes.

As for the title, there is nothing Aqua, nor Teen, nor Hunger, nor Force about the show. The title of the show is basically not even acknowledged let alone explained. Weird. But I like it.

Todd

4:07 PM  
Blogger Bob V said...

Whenever comedians compete, the lowest common denominator is reached rather quickly. It is because importance of attention-grabbing dominates.

6:04 AM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

Who is funnier: the dude who thinks things are funny when they clearly aren't? Or the woman who can't take some friendly ribbing? It is an circular question. Roughly, your assertion is that people who don't think you are funny are just not funny. That seems like a riddle, not a logical conclusion.

Sometimes I think that I'm not funny because I blog about Word Press hacks, compost and Critical Perspectives on Travel and Privilege and not The Extreme Vigilance of Public Servants and so my blog is not even remotely funny. Ever. My blog is never funny. I just looked at the last ten entries, not one was even witty. But then over the course of this weekend, I made my friend choke (sorry 'bout that) on his tofu scramble (speaking of not funny; only hippies eat tofu scramble and they aren't very funny) and I remembered that I am, too, funny.

Actually, I'm not even funny. I mean, it wasn't tofu scramble, and the vegan was stuck eating celery and carrot sticks becuase that was the vegan foodstuff available.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

the depth of my caring decreases directly with increasing distance

But then there's escape velocity with respect to caring! I myself make sure my caring decreases with the SQUARE of distance.

11:52 AM  

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