A little history

The truth is … that women have not only no humour in themselves but are the cause of the extinction of it in others. This is almost too cruel to be true, but in every way women correspond to and are representative of nature. Is there any humour in nature? A glance at the zoo will answer this question … [w]omen are the undifferentiated mass of nature from which the contradictions of real and ideal arose and they are the unlaughing at which men laugh.

– Reginald Blythe in Humour in English Literature (first published in 1959 and reprinted in 1970)

As Regina Barreca points out in the introduction of Last Laughs, Perspectives on Women and Comedy, “Unfortunately this comment was not delivered as a joke.”


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