From a pretty early age, I realized that I wasn’t going to get attention for being the “pretty girl.” Sure, I’m not heinous, but in any social setting, there’s always going to be someone better-looking than I am, there to steal the spotlight. What’s a girl who thrives off attention to do?
In high school, there are a set number of stereotypes that everyone is expected to fall into; and only the ones who embody those roles the most are destined for the attention, and at least quasi-approval of their peers. No one is going to notice you if you’re the third prettiest girl in the school, or the junior captain of the beloved winning team. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done to reign as the prettiest, most athletic, smartest or most promiscuous (c’mon, there was no way Cindy would have been popular if she didn’t hang out behind the bleachers so often). I certainly don’t fall into any of these categories, however not all hope is lost. Since there has always been one stereotype that you don’t need to be the best at to still get noticed: the funny girl.
You don’t need to be the next Tina Fey to have a guy who’s out of your league paying attention to you (or at least your slightly embellished stories) at the bar. It’s a hell of a lot easier, and rewarding, to be known as the go-to friend for a good Instagram caption rather than for a perfect cat eye, or some Cosmo-level sex tips.
I’m not claiming to be that funny. I’m called annoying regularly both in real life and in comments, most of my tweets don’t get retweeted, and theres a good chance that if I met any of my female comedian idols, the funniest thing I would do in front of them would be peeing myself. But there’s still one thing I have in common with some of these “greats,” as well as with every other girl who identifies with the “funny girl” stereotype: self-deprecating humor.
I’ve already accepted the fact that I’m never going to be a Victoria’s Secret model, or an all star athlete. I’ve accepted that my fate of being the girl who makes the odd inappropriate joke or who can tear into the Kardashians in a way that comes across as middle funny instead of spiteful. However, in the constant pursuit of validation for what might be the most unique thing about me, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making fun of myself instead of others or the world around me.
First, let’s look at some of the most well-known, current, female comedians. Who on this list hasn’t played a character, or done a sketch that feeds off of the stereotype of being permanently single, lonely, eating too much cheese, drinking too much wine, and being an overall mess? The “sad girl” somehow become less pathetic, and more socially acceptable to laugh at, if she herself starts jokes first. Sure, few people are horrible enough to actually laugh at their friend who probably never will get a boyfriend, but no one is above cackling along with Tina Fey as she muses about dying alone.
You don’t need to be on SNL, or have over a thousand Twitter followers to fall victim to making yourself the butt of all of your own jokes. Scared of coming across at “bitchy” joking about others, “offensive” about providing commentary on political or social issues, “air-headed” if too involved in celebrity culture, and “pretentious” if too involved with anything that didn’t show up on the pages of TMZ; it’s easy to stick to jokes about yourself, so that the only person you’re insulting or offending is coincidentally also yourself.
Because there’s a good chance that, like me, the girl who clings to whatever sense of humor she has has never thought of herself as the prettiest, smartest, or anything above, these “sore spots” are the easiest to joke about. Besides, it’s a lot easier to bring them up yourself than to wait until someone else does. Remember Rebel Wilson’s character in Pitch Perfect? She called herself “Fat Amy,” so that it wasn’t insulting if anyone else did. It’s so easy to fall into perpetuating the “mess” stereotype we see perpetuated by Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Chelsea Handler and other similar women in the comedic world. If Amy Schumer can make a career off of playing into the stereotypes of not being attractive to men (which is completely untrue!) and drinking too much, it’s easy to think that you’ll at least get a sliver of attention for following along the same path.
After all, the things that you’re joking about most likely are true. It’s easy to start feeling sorry for yourself after drinking an entire bottle of wine, and realizing that you have no one to share it with (not like you would have anyway). The easiest way to defer your attention away from feeling sorry for yourself? Get others to pay attention to you. The easiest way to get others to pay attention to you? Make fun of yourself. Its a never-ending loop.
Trust me, it’s so easy to have people laugh at you. It’s even easier to feel like it’s completely fine, and on top of the comedic world if you’re laughing right along with them. If you know that after five tequila shots, your jokes about what a mess you are are going to get you more attention than the Gigi Hadid lookalike sitting in the corner, it’s hard to resist the possibility.
However, as simple as it is to get attention, retweets, and even boys from self-deprecating humor, realize that you’re above it. I hate to sound corny, but if you’re funny enough to make yourself, who probably is a pretty damn good person, and not nearly as much of a mess as you put on, into a joke, there’s a good chance that you can find the humor, and attention, in plenty of other things too. Trust me, it’s pretty fun, and a lot less self-damaging to just stick to making fun of others..
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