Humor And Women

Quite recently, I was having this discussion with a cousin of mine. The question that popped out of that discussion was - Why are there no female mimicry artists? I thought about it for sometime and realized that there are very very few "mimickable" women. This is not just restricted to India but its almost an international phenomenon (I have not yet seen a female mimicry artist, so my assumption is that the number is very small if not zero, but please correct me if I am wrong) And "mimickable" people should exist in order to mimic them. Now, let me give a few examples of "mimickable".

George Bush is very mimickable. So are Robert De Niro, Amitabh Bachchan, Sharukh Khan, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Vajpayee. Now, Sunil Dutt is not very mimickable. Neither are Bobby Deol, Rahul Bose or George Fernandes. And some people can be "mimickable" by their natural style (like Laloo or Robert De Niro) or may be in a specific performance in a movie (like Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction or Amjad Khan in Sholay) Got what I am saying?

Yes, the unique style or mannerisms that makes a person much different from others is what qualifies for "mimickable". Now, I again have the same question - why are there so very few mimickable women? If you take Hindi cinema, I can only think of the nasal Hema Malini as Basanti who is somewhat mimickable. Other than that, I cannot think of a second example. Same case with international cinema, I guess. Now, not mimickable does not mean any insult - there are lots and lots of beautiful women in movies, many of them "stylish" in a very unique way and extremely talented actresses, but not mimickable in terms of mannerisms or voice or body language. I am amazed by the huge ratio difference in this "mimickable" section. And this is not an area (like may be car racing) which can be argued as typically "male" thing and does not naturally suit women.

So, do you have any idea why women are not "mimickable" in general and hence so very few female mimicry artists? Taking it to a broader perspective, why are there so very few female stand up performers (In that reality show called 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge', I dont remember seeing even one female participant!) and comedians in general? Or in general, is humor a very "non-female" thing?

P.S: This post is in no way to mean any disrespect to women or to show them as inferior. But, this is an honest attempt to know the answers to a few questions thats been bothering me from a very long time. So, anybody commenting, please refrain from using derogatory or demeaning statements.


  1. Shruti said...

    I have been a regular reader of your blogs - think I caught the link while searching for Mungaru Male song lyrics. Liked the way you write and keep going back to your blog. :)
    Well, when I read your blog today about mimicking women, I felt it is an honour to women that we cant be mimicked! It just goes to show that each of us are unique in our own ways and command a respect such that no one mimics us... that was my perception. Anyone vouching for that?
    Soumia said...
    Mimickable females…Sonia gandhi (walk and speech),hema malini as u mentioned, nargis dutt (lifting her upper lip and speaking),cher (voice modulation), and u can defnitly act like ‘don’t speak’ lead singer and many more.
    Imagine if we have had heroines talk like “Khamosh, band karo yeh naach gaana” just like shatrugun sinha does. Or dance like dev anand. I wouldn’t think maduri dixit would have become so famous if she had copied dev anand or rajeshkhanna style or even mithunda and kajol wouldn’t have been called a better actress if she had closed half her face the whole movie just like manoj kumar. Pple are kind to men. They don’t have to be graceful all the time; they can dance like drunken souls, act with their face closed and still considered one of the sexiest pple and better actors.

    Mimicking some heroes, adjusting our pants in public etc would make us appear disgraceful.

    But just because we don’t mimick or don’t do stand up comedy, It isnt fair to generalize that humor is alien to us. Its just a matter with pple. U call some men dog and they definitely bark (my quote:))
    I think mimicking is relatively a gender issue.
    Krupa said...
    "Mimic" able women-
    Katherine Hepburn(suppposedly Anthony Hopkins mimicked her way of talking in 'Silence of the Lambs')
    Marilyn Monroe-I do not think any other human being is so universally aped as her.
    Leelavathi("aiyyo!devre") etc

    Stand up comdeienne
    Whoopi Goldberg-Other than Billy one can even think of matching up.
    Queen Latifah,Ellen De Genres,Lakshmi devi(kannada)

    Moroever its a supply-demand chain.Women are meant to be mysterious,seductive,beautiful...and "funny" is not one of them.
    If you are are teamed opp people like Johnny Walker,Rajendra Nath and Narshima Raju.what kind of a woman would want that?

    And its socially acceptable for men to make fun of their mother-in-laws but not so acceptable for a woman to make fun of father-in-law.

    Have you ever seen any guy mention being funny as criteria to love her?
    But women mention that they rate humor very high.

    And I do think Sunil Dutt is his dakoo roles
    Bit Hawk said...
    Feels so good to get a compliment from good bloggers!
    Well, I disagree with your viewpoint. Mimickable does not disrespect a person. To me, Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone are both fabulous actors. But, Sharon Stone is not as mimickable as De Niro. Thats not anything to feel bad about for De Niro, right? And women are unique in terms of their sense of styling, dressing, thinking etc. but I was referring to more from the sense of accent or mannerisms!

    Thanks for adding to the list of mimickable females, I would still say that the percentage is comparatively less. Hey, and what has adjusting pants got to do with humor? I do agree that the expectation of being graceful is more than the expectation to be humorous. And please dont start comparing Mithunda and Kajol. Its as meaningless as comparing Guddi Maruthi and John Abraham :)

    Quite an exhaustive list! Being humorous does not place you in the company of Johny Walker and Narasimharaju. You can also be in the company of Woody Allen, Billy Crystal and Groucho Marx! Yeah, I agree about the supply-demand logic, makes sense.

    I would like to thank all the three commentors for their views. I agree that the last line in my post was a bit unnecessary! Being a regular reader of your blogs, I can easily say that all you three have an amazing sense of humor. So, I honestly dont think that humor is a non-female thing!
    Vani said...

    This is my first visit to your blog. Came here through Bellur's blog.

    I feel women are more concious about how they speak, behave and generally conduct themselves, and men, on the other hand are more comfortable with themselves, making them more susceptible to mimicry.

    Also, you may have observed that people worthy of mimicry are generally very different, rather, unique, compared to others.

    And, as they say, Mimicry is the best form of flattery....this may have worked for men, but women may not have taken mimicry so easy...

    These are my two cents.
    Krupa said...
    They are valid observations..but think as a heroine..
    you are funny-you get to act with Woody Allen..
    You are not funny..but pretty and sometimes willing to be the butt of the joke(like Marliyn) get to star with likes of Cary Grant and Tom Cruise.
    asking women to choose between being funny and kissing Woody Allen or no jokes & hanging onto Tom Cruise's sleeve...most women wont think twice.

    In fact I think the idea of kissing Woody Allen make all women hide their sense of humor;)

    Some more funny women-
    Dorothy Parker,Lucille Ball,Rosalind Russell

    PS:Dont get mad at me being rude about Woody Allen.
    Bit Hawk said...
    I think Woody Allen would have been delighted to see your comments. We are talking about a bigger topic like humor and you are sounding like humor starts and ends with Woody Allen. And Mia Farrow was never funny, yet she got kissed by Woody so many times ;)

    I think your idea of cinematic brilliance is just limited to the heroine standing on her high heels, waiting for some cleanly shaven guy , with neatly combed hair, wearing a black suit to kiss her! I am stunned!

    You might not be surprised to know that I had not heard about the other funny women that you have mentioned. This is not to tell that they are not worthy. You can come up with a dozen other names if you dig a little deep, but the fact is that the percentage is still very low. You can ask any person (who does not know about this argument) to name 10 humorous people, and you will realize that the list wont have more than 2 women! I have already agreed that this does not mean that women are not humorous enough, it just shows that its a social issue and the expectations set.

    P.S: I heard that the last episode of "Great Indian Laughter Challenge" had a female participant. I am so glad!
    anees said...
    There are a lot of Malayalee actreese who are mimickable such as late Filomina etc.

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