Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's the Taking Part that Counts? Sod That!

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.


  1. Jaci you're entertaining, witty, clever and very observant of the human condition; that makes you very attractive in my book. So carry on and hold your head up high.

    1. Thank you so much - that's very kind and much appreciated! X

  2. Dear Jaci,

    At the age of 19 1/2 (that half is very important right now, it's six months closer to respectability and being taken seriously) I shouldn't even try to give advice that might benefit anyone in any way -- even to make them feel better --except perhaps to a high school kid even nerdier than I was in high school.. I don't know what to tell you except that you're much prettier than you think and that a lot of people have men of whom they'd love to be rid, or have gone to the altar three to seven times and lost financially each time, or had even more long-term relationships without benefit of a marriage license which ultimately resulted in fights over toasters and pets. They may even have brought unwanted children into the world as well, and then raised them poorly, adding to the world's already overloaded state of chaos.

    I can say awards are overrated, but it's awfully easy for me to say that when awards are essentially irrelevant in my present life. My medical school doesn't even give letter grades or do class rankings for the first two years to encourage cooperation rather than competition. We all know how that will go,. We'll all be kissing up to professors and attending physicians and currying favor in every way possible, so that once grades and rankings are in effect, we'll be in prime position. I can say that competition isn't important, but when it comes right down to it, most of us want recognition for what we've done well.

    I think you were thoroughly screwed. I'm not sure how much it matters that a nineteen-and-a-half year-old stick figure who still has metal covering her teeth because of an overbite that couldn't be corrected until I grew enough for the orthodontia to be effective thinks you got a raw deal, but I do think so. I also think you're recognized more than you know, even if it is through less official channels than professional awards.

    As far as a man goes, there's probably someone out there you'll find sexy and tolerable if you really want one. I really don't think being funny takes you out of the running.. It may weed out a few egotists, but you didn't want them anyway. (What you want is someone also funny without too much of an ego. A bit of ego is healthy - even essential - but living with a man with too much ego is probably worse than living with a colostomy.).I have a similar issue. I'm not particularly funny, except to the people laughing at and not with me, but I have aptitude in math and science. Boys don't like girls who are smarter than they are. I may be destined to. live a life as a physician who is successful in her career but has absolutely no luck when it comes to romance. Or maybe I won't even be successful as a physician. I lack the ideal temperament for it. My "people'"skills are substandard.

    I'm not trying to say my life is tougher than yours has been. We've both had our share of advantages and disadvantages. I guess what I'm trying to convey in entirely too many words is that, from the outside, peering into your fishbowl, you look pretty damned successful to me.. Allow yourself to be sad if that's what you need to do for the sake of your sanity, but keep in mind that you are held in highest regard by many people, myself among them.


    P.S. Have someone mail your teddy bear to you from Wales.

    1. Thank you so, so much, for that wonderful response - it's made me cry! You know I admire you hugely, and age has nothing to do with the advice one can offer, or receive, at any age. I am ok most of the time but have my moments and, in my writing, wear my heart on my sleeve. Your post means so much to me - thank you, from the bottom of my heart. X

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