In 2007, the late Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens wrote an essay called “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” A known contrarian, Hitchens meant to rile readers up with the piece, suggesting that humour is a male trait and that successful female comics “are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.” The essay caused an uproar, but Hitchens was hardly the first personnto suggest that women can’t make people laugh. Well, Melissa McCarthy is proving them wrong.
Comedy is subjective, but regardless of your taste, there are numerous female comedians who have their audiences in stiches: Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Roseanne Barr, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, the list goes on. These names are good to have on hand as a rebuttal to someone who suggests “chicks can’t make jokes,” but what’s even better are concrete numbers. The Mary Sue looked at the box office grosses of some of the biggest male comedians and stacked them against the results McCarthy’s recent films. Hands down, McCarthy sells more tickets. For instance, as the site notes: “Will Ferrell’s first big hit, Night at the Roxbury, grossed $30 million in the US. His first film to break $100 million was Elf in 2003. For McCarthy? Bridesmaids earned $169 million and Identity Theft another $135 million—and those are just her first two major films.” You can’t argue with that.
No matter which way you crunch these figures, it’s clear that female-centric comedies can be box office gold. This makes the fact that The Heat is “the only studio film starring women that’s coming out this summer” all the harder to swallow. Listen up, Hollywood; or better yet, just check the numbers.