For years now, I’ve benefited from being the loudest person in the room, which up until now has also meant “funniest” by default. But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, I worry what this all means for me, a genuinely unfunny person.
Sure, I’m not a “comedian” per se, if you don’t consider being the guy who makes his female boss force a smile and go, “Thanks for that, Brandon, but let’s get back to the conference call” a comedian. But I’ve spent years honing my loudness, letting it be interpreted as wit, and letting it distract from the fact that I’m completely devoid of social skills. If I’m not allowed to crack a boobie joke with the boys, what’s next? Not being allowed to yell “vagina!” in a board meeting to the immediate and raucous chorus of laughter from the men around me? It’s a slippery slope from there to a world with no comedy at all.
Back in the good old days, like a couple months ago, being funny was a man’s game. Two things were absolute: talking about women making sandwiches would always be hilarious to men who had no discernible personality outside of wearing polo shirts, and would always be tolerable to the women who were too exhausted to say otherwise. But the #MeToo movement has ushered in a new era — an era in which women have the audacity to say, “being loud isn’t the same as being funny.” And men like me should be terrified.
In high school, I worked at an FYE, and whenever anyone tried to buy a CD that fell into the pop genre, I’d give a little laugh and go, “Jeez, this stuff is like junk food for your brain. Ever heard of Led Zaplin?” “Zeppelin?” they’d usually ask in response, and I’d scoff to myself wondering how anyone could be so simple. Whenever any of my friends announce that they’re getting married, instead of congratulating them, I shake my head and go “Another sucker signing his life away.” And wherever karaoke is available, I insist on singing the eight-minute version of Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” in its entirety, by myself, no matter what the vibe of the place is. My point is, when stripped down to my core, unable to mask loudness as comedy, I am a nightmare of a person. And we aren’t doing anyone any favors by revealing that, except for, I guess, everyone who has to be around me.
While women are having their reckoning and becoming more comfortable and empowered in the world around them, remember that it comes at a price. That price seems to be that everyone gets all pissy with me when I say “Blow me, Karen,” to a coworker in a professional setting — even though I’m totally saying it as a joke. And that price seems to be too way too high to me, the least funny person in the room.