The majority of women, when asked what they most want in a man, reply: “Someone who makes me laugh”.
The majority of men will give you a whole list of other things long before they say “a woman who makes me laugh”.
Their list will usually be dominated by “someone who makes me feel good about myself” or “someone who thinks I’m funny”, all the way down to “a whacking great pair of knockers and the ability to keep her gob shut when I should be the centre of attention”.
Lots of people tell me, and have always told me, that I am very funny. I have made a living out of being a funny writer; but when it comes to relationships, most men don’t want funny. Funny women usually go hand in hand with unpredictability, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, getting your kit off for the lads; and while most inebriated men love that (for the duration of any match and a couple of hours afterwards), they want to go home to someone serving tea and cup-cakes.
I’ve been in hibernation this week, wishing I was beautiful and not funny, decorous and not funny, feminine and not funny. In fact, if a surgeon had arrived to rip every funny bone out of my body, I would have paid him handsomely.
In retrospect, it is ludicrous what threw me into downslide. I had entered for the Southern California Journalism Awards and had been shortlisted in the five categories I entered. These included blogs, interviews and TV criticism. Some pieces were serious, but most were hilarious. I jokingly asked if anyone wanted to come along to the event to see me lose in all five, never for a moment imagining that I would.
My Eva Longoria “non” interview (she gave me 15 minutes) on my blog LA Not So Confidential was, to me, one of the funniest pieces I have ever written; likewise, my interview with Judge Alex Ferrer (he gave me well over two hours). Eva got me a second place in the Blog Interview category; she and Judge Alex were two of the pieces that got me a third in the Entertainment Journalist of the Year. I was placed third in the other three categories.
I spiralled into cataclysmic despair. How could this be? I am bloody hilarious! The same happened in the last awards I entered here, but I keep losing out to people writing about Israel and/or Pakistan (years ago, I emerged from the toilets at a UK awards ceremony and predicted I would lose to the woman I had seen in a hijab. I did). I know there’s not much to laugh about in either place, but it sticks in my gut that humour is usually the poor relation to “worthiness” when it comes to handing out awards.
Take The Hangover – one of the most gloriously written and acted movies of recent years. It didn’t even get a sniff of an Oscar for Best Picture. Fast forward its star, Bradley Cooper, to Silver Linings Playbook, and they couldn’t get enough of him. Why? Because it was about the worthy subject of mental illness.
It’s still the case, though, that funny men are far more acceptable than funny women, unless you’re Joan Rivers, and you’ve earned your badge for reaching 105 and are still managing to make people laugh, even if you are having trouble excavating your own smile from the iron mask that has become your face.
I am extremely lucky in that I have a lot of very funny, quick-witted and intelligent friends (who, obviously, recognise my own genius – I ain’t that daft in who I pick), both male and female. Gone are the days of our twenties when we sat around whingeing about whether X fancied Y and what it meant for the future of civilisation; for the most part, we live in the moment, laughing about the absurdities of our respective lives, but always in a spirit of optimism. Heck, we’ve got to our 40s and 50s; we’re already achievers.
Most of my friends are married, also to very funny, quick-witted and intelligent people and, this week, sitting at the awards table with my certificates of gloom (I am such a bad loser), I wished (and this rarely happens) that I had a partner to share it all with. Someone to tell me I looked nice before heading out; someone to share my blind hope that I was going to win in all five categories; someone to share the bottle of absurdly over-priced wine in LA Downtown’s Biltmore Hotel; and someone to put it all in perspective, throw their arm around me at the end of the night and tell me that it really didn’t matter: that I was loved – and damned sodding funny. It just made me more than a little sad.
But I’ve bounced back (and thank you to my Twitter friends for your concern – it meant a lot), because the reality is, if funny hasn’t got me a man in three continents, it sure as hell isn’t going to get me first place when faced with a Palestinian army of journalists in the US.