Exercise 8: Introduction for Assignment 4

Aleyna Argeso

WTEII: Funny or Not

Why Do Men Dominate Stand-Up Comedy? (Introduction)


Men have been dominating comedy for centuries, and the comedic style “stand-up comedy” is no exception to this trend.  When most people try to envision a stand-up comedian on stage, the image that comes into their mind is that of a man. Subconsciously, individuals have a tendency to associate men with stand-up comedy, and they acknowledge on some level that stand-up comedy is a largely male field. The roots of this sociological trend have to be investigated in detail in order to shed light into the field of comedy studies. So, what specific factors contribute to the gender disparity in stand-up comedy and enable men to rule this comedic form? Is it simply the fact that women aren’t as funny as men or are there other reasons behind the phenomenon? Based on the research conducted on this topic and preconceived ideas about the subject, it can be asserted that men’s dominant position in stand-up comedy isn’t because women aren’t as funny as men but arises from the barriers imposed on women both by the society and by themselves. Society has been actively trying to exclude women from stand-up comedy due to the hegemonic masculinity notions and prey/predator mindset present in the society, and because of these reasons, female stand-up comedians aren’t given the same chance as male stand-up comedians.  Moreover, numerous women are opting not to enter the stand-up comedy world as they believe that the content covered in stand-up comedy do not go in line with their maternal roles and other feminine characteristics that are expected of them; hegemonic masculinity plays an essential role in this regard as well since the majority of women prefer to adapt the conventional roles assigned to them to fit into the society. To be more specific, “status”, “maternality” and “femininity” perceptions of hegemonic masculinity lead to the societal and self-induced barriers imposed on women with regard to entering stand-up comedy. However, since hegemonic masculinity is gradually losing its power in the global society and  feminist ideals are becoming more prevalent, more opportunities are given to female comedians and the male dominance in stand-up comedy is losing its strength.

Exercise 6: Proposal for Research Paper

This research paper will attempt to give a plausible answer to the following question: “Why do men dominate stand-up comedy?” Various articles related to this issue will be investigated to find a logical explanation to this phenomenon, but this particular issue will especially be examined from the lens of hegemonic masculinity. More specifically, the role of gender dynamics and hegemonic masculinity in stand-up comedy will be analyzed. The research study will aim to establish a positive correlation between male dominance in stand-up comedy and hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is an anthropological term what was first popularized by the sociologist R.W Connell and refers to the presence of  a gender dynamic where men hold the socially dominant position. In hegemonic masculinity, men are perceived as the leaders of the society and are given the authority to subordinate and oppress women. Moreover, this sort of masculinity sexually objectifies women and promotes the prey/predator mindset. Research and prior background knowledge on the matter indicates that hegemonic masculinity might be allowing more men than women to enter the stand-up comedy sector. For instance, the article “ Women in Comedy: Why Is There Still A Lack Of Visible Female Comedians?” by Brogan Driscoll suggests that one factor that leads to the dominance of men in comedy is the fact that a comedian on stage possesses a high status and is regarded to be in charge of the entire room; this fact causes men to dominate stand-up comedy because such high status and control has been linked with alpha-male traits for centuries. Moreover, in his article “Why Women Aren’t Funny”, Christopher Hitchens, argues that women aren’t as funny as men and implicitly shows the prey/predator mindset as a reason for his own personal opinion. According to him, women aren’t as funny as men because they don’t need to be funny to attract the male attention. Basically, he states that comedy and women don’t necessarily go in line with each other since humor isn’t part of the sexual objectification of women. In the prey/predator mindset, women’s proper position is that of a sexual object, and according to the article by Julia Serano“Why Nice Guys Finish Last”, women feel the need to sexually objectify themselves to gain attention from men. For this reason, since humor isn’t part of the “prey” mentality, most women may not feel the need to master their comedic skills or start a career related to humor. Men, on the other hand, would be more inclined to do the opposite as humor is one of the primary tools they use to attract women. In other words, since humor part of the predator mindset in men, seeing male comedians on stage should be the expected phenomenon in society.

Further research related to this assignment will include other expert testimonies that strive to explain the dearth of women in stand up comedy as well as anthropological research that looks into the characteristics of hegemonic masculinity. During this further research, one of the primary concerns will be establishing direct links between various attributes of hegemonic masculinity and stand-up comedy.


Works Cited


Hitchens, Christopher. “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” Vanity Fair, Vanity Fair, 29 Aug. 2017, www.vanityfair.com/culture/2007/01/hitchens200701.


Driscoll, Brogan. “We Know That Women Are Funny, So Why Is There Still A Lack Of Visible Female Comedians?” HuffPost UK, HuffPost UK, 26 Mar. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/26/comedy-are-women-funny-lack-female-comedians_n_5028855.html.

“Why Nice Guys Finish Last.” Emerging Contemporary Readings for Writers, by Julia Serano, 3rd ed., Bedford/St Martin’s, 2016, pp. 414–423.

Portfolio Exercise 5

Aleyna Argeso

WTE: Funny or Not

Portfolio Exercise 5



Tom Coogan mentions the Onion article “Study: Depression Hits Losers Hardest” in his work “Usually I love The Onion, but This Time You’ve Gone Too Far” and talks about the controversial nature of this article. Coogan explains that the article has received negative reactions from certain circles and points out Alex Lubet as a chief opponent of the article. According to Coogan, Lubet finds the Onion article about depression “appalling” and “ill-intended”. In other words, Lubet thinks that this article doesn’t have a “pro-disability rights intent” and doesn’t have the potential of helping people suffering from depression. Lubet believes that the article was written with bad intentions and from an outsider point of view. According to Lubet, the article was written by someone who isn’t fully aware of the realities of depression; however, Coogan refutes this presumption of Lubet by saying that one of the chief authors of the article Todd Hanson is someone who identifies himself with clinical depression. Therefore, the “outsider” criticism for the Onion article is effectively refuted by Coogan. However, the “ill intentions” part still remains upto debate.

I can easily say that I have personally found the article “Study: Depression Hits Losers Hardest” offensive and significantly harmful to the society. However, the insider/outsider debate wasn’t a factor that I took into account during my criticism as I don’t think that the author’s identity makes much of a difference as long as the article’s main idea is the same. I can’t certainly say that the article was written with bad intentions as Lubet argues, but I can say that the overall article doesn’t successfully exercise a”pro-disability rights intent”. In my opinion, the article has the potential to do more harm than good to people experiencing depression, no matter what the intent of the authors are. Let’s imagine the best case scenario where the authors actually want to help out people suffering from depression, then this article is successful in the sense that it is provocative and throws unpleasant facts into people’s faces. This provocative nature might cause certain bullies to question themselves when they call someone a “loser” and make them aware that their bullying can have severe negative impacts on certain individuals. Moreover, the provocation in the article can lead certain depressed people to come to terms with their actual state and make them realize that they are in fact creating their own problems. Nevertheless, these two potential positive effects are only possible if the reader is somewhat intellectual with some common sense and self-awareness. However, what percent of bullies and people suffering from depression are actually self-aware, responsible, and insightful? Well, not the majority! Therefore, the article can benefit only a small portion of the society.

On the other hand, when we look at the negative aspects of the article, we can see that there are a lot of offensive phrases like “Losers are much more likely to internalize these emotions, as they are miserable little nothings, devoid of any value as people” which promote the infliction of self-harm. In fact this statement along with “Because they are so inherently inferior to regular people, many losers feel—quite correctly—that their lives are not worth living” almost persuades people who regard themselves as losers to commit suicide, as they have no value in life and their existence is unnecessary for the world according to the article’s “on-the surface” point of view.  Indeed, most of the article talks about how worthless losers are; in fact, a pie chart with derogatory segments is presented to the audience. This chart explains why “losers” are depressed: it says that 16% have no life, 12% are hated by everyone, 44% are total fucking losers, and 28% can’t do anything right. All of these so-called explanations listed in the pie chart carry subliminal messages that significantly harm the psychological states of people suffering from depression and bullying. If an article’s intended audience also includes people experiencing psychological disorders, then word choice should be determined in an extremely careful manner: black and white statements, insults, and abusive remarks should be avoided. Furthermore, the article crosses the line way too much when it says “Nobody cares about them, they are alone, they can’t hold down a job, they have no money. Even their own families hate them. Life has passed them by. What’s the point in their even going on?”. This statement mirrors the mental state of a depressed individual, but this mirroring can be quite dangerous as it can reaffirm the delusional beliefs of people with depression. Overall, all the statements made in the article can further damage the psychology of individuals suffering from depression and can even make them think that suicide is a good way to end their suffering. Due to this fact, the Onion article isn’t only offensive but also poses a significant threat to the global society.


Works Cited

“Study: Depression Hits Losers Hardest.” The Onion 31.08. 5 March 1997. Web. 1 September 2010.


Coogan, Tom. “Usually I Love the Onion but This Time You’ve Gone Too Far.” Vol. 7, no. 1, 2013, pp. 1–17.

Portfolio Exercise 4

Satire in Contemporary Culture and Its Political Ties

Satire is a technique employed by authors, performing artists, and graphic artists to criticize corruption, shortcomings, foolishness, and abuses of individuals with the use of humor, ridicule, caricature, and exaggeration. This technique has held an important place in people’s lives and continues to do so in the contemporary society. It has created awareness in people about important phenomena and acted as a transforming power until today. As Emily Nussbaum rightly states in her article “How Jokes Won the Election”, “jokes were a superior way to tell the truth- that meant freedom for everyone” (Nussbaum 1). Comedy, especially in the form of satire, intends to reveal the truth to audiences: it intends to wake people up. To this day, satire has helped many people recognize the ill intentions of certain individuals and even affected the outcome of political elections and decisions. Satire, in our contemporary culture, should continue this behavior: its main purpose should be revealing hidden truths to human beings.

        In our contemporary culture, one of the primary uses of satire takes place in the political arena. Satirists criticize the actions of certain political figures with the use of humor and exaggeration. This criticism acts as an important weapon against indoctrination. Nussbaum, for instance, claims that “I had the impression that jokes, like Woody Guthrie’s guitar, were a machine that killed fascists” (Nussbaum 1). Nusbaum makes a reasonable argument in the previous sentence because satire has been fighting fascism for several centuries. To illustrate with an example, during the Gezi protests of Istanbul which took place in 2013, one of the most prominent satirical magazines in Turkey, “Penguen” published a special Gezi issue. In this issue, the caricaturists made fun of the oppression of the ruling party during the protests and illustrated how the police officials physically abused protesters in a brutal manner. The special issue of Penguen sold millions of copies and encouraged people to start an awareness campaign about the “Gezi Abuse”. When the issue was released, a strict censorship was put on broadcasting networks; therefore, the Penguin magazine acted as a great tool to inform citizens about the truth behind Gezi protests. For this reason, satire has played a crucial role in Gezi protests: one of the most significant incidents in Turkish political history. Numerous examples similar to the use of satire in Gezi protests exist and all of them show us that satire is an effective weapon against fascism, autocracy, oppression, and tyranny.

        It’s evident that satire has been playing a significant role in the political climate of the United States for centuries. Satirists have always sought to find creative means to criticize the political figures they disagree with and successfully persuaded numerous individuals against these figures. South Park is a great example of this; the producers of the show have strongly criticized George Bush in the past episodes and were able to successfully portray him under a bad light. Many satirists are now trying to do the same to Donald Trump, but their task is much more challenging than it used to be. The reality with Trump’s administration is so over the top that it is difficult for satirists to come up with an exaggerated scenario that criticizes his actions. Basically, how do you get more dramatic than Trump without appearing ridiculous or losing the meaning you’re trying to convey? How do you satirize a figure who is already a walking caricature? Scott Meslow stresses this challenge in his article “Our Cartoon President Makes Us Wonder: Why Can’t Anyone Make a Decent Donald Trump Satire?” and claims that “the trouble with satirizing Trump is that Trump is essentially self-satirizing” (Meslow, 2018). As Meslow explains, Trump has been a public media figure for decades, and he has been mocked by humorists so much that nearly every single joke about him has already been made. The satirists now often realize that they are repeating themselves, and the presence of such repetition causes the audience to lose interest and makes the satirical criticism less effective. Furthermore, as a media figure, Trump is quite accomplished at responding to negative criticisms directed from satirists and quite successful at mocking them. It’s quite difficult to get under the skin of Trump; with his extreme ego and partial “immunity to satire” that came with experience, it’s challenging for satirists to personally offend Trump. Meslow says that personal offense on Trump’s part is necessary for satirists to succeed: “ And so the most successful measure of whether or not a Trump satires work might, in the end, be whether or not it personally irritates Trump” (Meslow 2018).

        Moreover, Trump possesses a troll army that fights against the satirists, and this makes the satirists’ jobs even more difficult.  Trump and his supporters have achieved mastery in trolling which refers to “lies, insults, and cruel pranks, emanating from anonymous abusers and presidential candidates” as Andrew Kahn explains his article “Trump Hasn’t killed Comedy” (Kahn 2017). The documentary “The World’s Greatest Troll: the Humor of Donald Trump” claims that “Donald Trump has a sense of humor that is self-deprecating, shockingly blunt… You can say that he is a master of making people feel uncomfortable. You could go a step further and say that he is the greatest troll the world have ever seen” (This Information 2016). This attribute of Trump makes him a hard target for the satirists: it’s tough to mock someone who already makes fun of himself and who is great at attacking and insulting people who oppose him. Trump and his supporters don’t hesitate to insult the satirists who criticize the Trump administration and are able to come up with creative and humorous ways to make these insults.

        So, how can satirists respond to the Trump reality that is many ways “outsatirizing satire”? Absurdity and exaggeration can no longer act as the primary weapons of satire as the political reality is already extremely absurd and exaggerated. As James Mitchell states in his article “Trump Satire: Why Bother?”, imitations full of hyperbole are no longer sufficient to make a strong statement against Donald Trump. Mitchell effectively states “Pedaling in cheap imitation can only preach to the converted and further fracture an already divided country. The stock standard mockery that SNL is pushing will bait Trump to react with an insecure tweet and Spicer to call the show “mean”. It won’t change the administration or its leader because an actor caricatures him as a dullard with a toupee” (Mitchell, 2017). For this reason, as Mitchell also argues, satirists shouldn’t confine themselves to superficial criticism but instead try to respond to the Trump reality with insightful analysis. Satirists should use their intelligence to criticize the actions of the Trump administration in a logical manner instead of caricaturizing him, and tone down the hyperbole to make a more clear statement. Mitchell defines this form of satire as “constructive satire” where the satire acts as a valuable source of true information to the crowds and satirists use persuasion based on evidence to criticize political realities. In other words, the satirists should conduct their research well and gather a considerable amount of information on their opponent and then use all the shortcomings they detected to create humorous material. Constructive satirists should strive to appeal to the logos of the audience while appealing to their sense of humor.

Works Cited

Nussbaum, Emily. “How Jokes Won the Election.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19    June 2017, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/23/how-jokes-won-the-election.

Meslow, Scott. “’Our Cartoon President’ Makes Us Wonder: Why Can’t Anyone Make a Decent Donald Trump Satire?” GQ, GQ, 9 Feb. 2018, www.gq.com/story/why-cant-anyone-make-a-decent-donald-trump-satire.

Kahn, Andrew. “Trump Hasn’t Killed Comedy. He’s Killed Our Stupid Idea of Comedy.” Slate Magazine, 19 July 2017, slate.com/arts/2017/07/trump-and-his-trolls-arent-killing-comedy-theyre-saving-it.html.

This Information. “The World’s Greatest Troll: the Humor of Donald Trump.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 25 October 2016. Web. 25 February  2018.


Mitchell, James. “Trump Satire: Why Bother?” Guide, 9 Feb. 2017, www.sbs.com.au/guide/article/2017/02/10/trump-satire-why-bother.

Portfolio Exercise 3

In his article “Why Women Aren’t Funny”, Christopher Hitchens, argues that women aren’t as funny as men; while making his argument, Hitchens lists several reasons to support his claim and utilizes several rhetorical devices to make his case more convincing.

First of all, he tries to make the audience, the general public, to empathize with him by making them recall dating stories that show how men’s sense of humor is emphasized in dating reflections while women’s are not. While appealing to the audience, Hitchens uses a casual tone to give the impression that he is one of them. Moreover, the entire article is kind of like a conversation between the author and the audience, and this adds a dynamic tone to Hitchen’s argument. While the sincere attitude of Hitchens and his constant interaction with the reader helps the establishment of Ethos, he isn’t completely successful in establishing his credibility to the audience. Other than the fact that he is man who have done some research about the topic, he doesn’t seem to have any expertise in the matter. “Women aren’t as funny as men” is a strong statement that needs some sort of psychological, sociological, or anthropological support behind it, and Hitchens doesn’t seem to have training in any of these as far as we know.

In terms of logos, while Hitchens article is quite coherent, his arguments lack support. First of all, he says that women aren’t funny because they don’t need  to be to attract the male attention. According to Hitchens, women already appeal to men as they are: even though, it isn’t explicitly stated, Hitchens refers to aesthetics in this case. However, Hitchens completely dismisses the cases where women primarily attract men with their personality instead of their looks Secondly, he claims that women are slow in understanding jokes and quick in identifying unfunny material and adds that women appreciate jokes more once they understand why it is funny. He supports this claim with a scientific research done by Stanford School of Medicine; however, he doesn’t establish a clear link between his main thesis and this secondary claim. How do these three attributes of women show that women aren’t as funny as men? Hitchens has to answer this question in order to build a stronger case. Thirdly, Hitchens says that humor is more about “filth” and dark phenomena which men are more inclined to enjoy and create. In order to support this claim, he compares the emotional states of men and women and claim that women are more vulnerable, emotional, and tender. Here he appeals to the emotions of the female readers as well which serves the Pathos. Finally, Hitchens claims that women have more of an authority in the society because of their childbearing abilities and that this adds seriousness to their character which prevents them from  enjoying the “childish”, “foolish” stuff that men appreciate.This statement is the most unique one because it praises women to prove that they have an inferior sense of humor.

Portfolio Exercise 2

Richard Bernstein, in his article, talks about the role of mockery in TV and performance arts. He claims that mockery is perceived in different ways in the media depending on the content and who is performing the mockery; he argues that if the mockery is directed towards oppressed groups then it encounters more resistance from the crows but if the mockery concerns superior and more powerful individuals then it is tolerated more by the audience. Moreover, he says that while some figures’ mockery such as Eddie Murphy’s towards homosexuals don’ t draw much criticism, the same sort of mockery done by Andy Rooney is heavily criticized by the society and this creates an inconsistency. Bernstein goes onto explain a dilemma in the mockery we see in media; he states that after the 60s society decided to be more respectful of differences in general and started to use politically correct language;however, the same society now sometimes wants to see the frowned upon lampooning of certain groups in stand up and/or TV to break the taboos. Here though,the context and where the mockery is done are quite important according to Bernstein: when the content gets more realistic and the place of mockery becomes more formal, the mockery receives more negative criticism from differerent circles. While building these arguments, Bernstein uses the specific shows of comedians and the reactions they get from their audiences. Overall, Bernstein argues that mockery has a safe zone in the entertainment field as long as comedians choose their content wisely.

Responding to a point in the text
Bernstein asserts that mockery receives more negative criticism if it is directed to repressed and discriminated groups. This becomes apparent in the lines: “You can’t make fun of anybody who has a sense of being excluded”. His reasoning and argument are valid in this case; in the society, making fun of successful and popular people is always more acceptable than making fun of weak, bullied, and ostracized individuals.

Portfolio Exercise 1: Summary

In today’s class, we discussed 3 different theories of laughter.

Superiority theory of laughter, which is for example when you laugh at the reactions or expressions of little kids and babies, or when you laugh at someone who falls down in public when walking on the street.

Incongruity theory of laughter which is to laugh at what is unexpected and what is odd. For example a drawing, that was projected on the wall on valentines day on 14th street, of Trump, pregnant with Putin’s baby. It is unexpected and odd indeed, and it’s funny.

Relief theory which is when people laugh because they sense stress. Giving an example from my life, back in high school, I always used to witness some students in my class arguing with the professor impolitely. As soon as I recognized tension between the student and the teacher I would start laughing to distract people from the tension I thought they were feeling either. It would make me feel very relieved, as my friends would join me while I laughed.

Portfolio Exercise 8: Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

Anna Deavere Smith’s reenactment of this dramatic work is incredibly powerful. I think her choice of words, movements, appearance, and mannerism are very useful tools in communicating the different individuals she is bringing to life which is not easy to do in a one woman show. The fact that all these individuals are real human beings involved in a real situation that was highly publicised makes this even more of a difficult performance to deliver. And, these reenactment strategies are precisely what allow Smith to portray these different characters in such compelling ways. Obviously, one important political implication of her work is the subject matter of the performance and that she is a woman of colour heightens this due to the nature of the trial. The Rodney King trial caused outrage around the globe and in the US and brought attention to the treatment of minorities by the police which was a very political incident in itself. Hence, the fact that Smith chose this matter definitely had important political implications and draw further attention to the issues faced by people of colour in the United States. Moreover, I believe Smith does justice in her performance to the chaos and deeply disturbing violence that incident has ignited. She beautifully portrays people of different socio-economical backgrounds and genders in her performance which certainly is not easy to accomplish. Finally, I was truly captured by the multi-media aspect of the performance. The fact that she wrote and performed the play based on the media coverage of the incident made it even more interesting.