TEDxStLouis Rewind: Ellie Kemper Was Once Asked Can Men Be Funny?

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  • Published on November 29, 2021
  • Last Updated December 2, 2021
  • In Video

Ellie Kemper, a St. Louis actress and a comedian, spoke at TedXStLouis on topic of women are funny. This is her take on how she dispels the notion of women are less funny than men.


Bridesmaids & Funny Women 

The comedy, Bridesmaids, was one Kemper’s best films. During the motion about the movie, some of the questions that revolved around this were movies and women, women and comedies, etc. According to her, one of the questions that distracted her was, “how did it feel to be in a movie with so many funny women?

Women are Different

Ellie did not find the question to be sexist or offensive, rather a boring question. She moved on to mention that there is something unspoken and implicit in the question – ‘a sense of surprise that women are funny’. The actress draws similarity to prove that women are funny and some women are not funny, like how some women are short and some are tall, and how some women enjoy the ride in the train while some prefer the bus. 

Cocktail Party Breath 

While addressing the notion of women are less funny or surprising to find them funny, Ellie Kemper developed a metaphor – the cocktail party breath. While she beautifully describes the scenario to help understand the metaphor, in simple terms, a bad breath of smell in a middle of great conversation at a cocktail party is distracting – and she draws similarity to the question of ‘are women funny’.

Christopher Hitchens’s essay

Kemper moves on to skewer the infamous essay of Christopher Hitchens written in 2007 about ‘Why Women Aren’t Funny’. While this essay has gained limelight igniting conversations, outrage, and amusement, she was asked by GQ magazine to flip back at the essay humorously with the question, “Can men be funny?”

Ellie finally wraps up the TED talk saying the question of whether women are funny should be put to rest. People will disagree about the concept of what is funny and what is not funny or to tell someone what to think or what to find funny – only because people have a different sense of humour. 

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