An Examination of the So-Called Humor of Hair Loss Jokes
The difference between "knock knock " jokes and hair loss jokes is that jokes about baldness are cruel, personal and have a clear intended target.
The other day I Googled “bald jokes” just to see what would come up. 142,000 hits was the number. 144,999 more than I imagined would appear. Even more interesting, but not necessarily surprising, is that 99.9% of them were about men and not women. I did find two “Yo mama’s so bald” jokes but no sisters, kids, teenagers or guys dating a bald woman jokes were to be found.
There is one thing that most of them did have in common. They weren’t even remotely funny. Several I thought might be continued on another page but no, nothing – just not funny. Others I thought if I read it more than once I would get it. Nope … not funny either.
So, was bald ever funny?
I remember as a kid watching TV variety shows and there was the occasional guy with the toupee caught in a windstorm whose hair would rise and fall like an airplane flap. That was kind of funny because you weren’t expecting it. I never realized my Uncle was bald until I walked into his bathroom and saw his hair on a dummy head sitting on the top of the toilet bowl. That wasn’t really funny. It actually freaked me out at first but no laughter crossed my lips.
Yet, here I was transfixed for hours searching hundred’s of sites on a mission to find a funny bald joke. I even tried to make one up. I was once a paid comedy writer. Funny was nowhere to be found. I would have to imagine that perhaps a long time ago, bald had to make someone laugh. That’s a lot of information to search through without even a chuckle. Perhaps with everything we have viewed on TV over the years, in movies, on cable stations, maybe just maybe bald jokes lost their appeal. And, let’s not forget that funny is subjective so I thought I would do a little experiment. I sent an email to 100 people that I know and asked them the following question.
Is bald, or anything about being bald, funny?
Thirty-four people responded. Not one of them mentioned bald unto itself as humorous but several did find weird comb-overs and bad toupees funny. And not the kind of laugh-out-loud funny I was hoping for. Funny as in silly that the men who sported them didn’t seem to realize or care how obvious it was to others what their real issue was. Not being bald. But trying too hard not to be.
Then I started to wonder. Maybe bald jokes have a humor rating based on age rather than actual real comedic value. Maybe they are funny starting at age ten or so, and then have a shelf life that peters out right around college graduation. By then there are enough people we know and love who are losing their hair or going bald and we just pass it off as an “oh, well.” Then it maybe picks up around the 10-year high school reunion because it is funny that the quarterback, Mr. full head of hair who always had the best looking girls is now bald as a billiard cue. But that really isn’t funny-funny. It just makes the rest of us who never suited up feel better that we finally have something he no longer does.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that bald jokes by themselves, have nothing on blonde jokes, penis jokes, or dare I say it – knock-knock jokes as far as longevity and shelf life is concerned. The only real power I can tell from my subsequent Google search on hair loss is that they seem to sting more, cause more harm over time, and activate a person’s insecurity and negative self-worth. That is significant. I actually think that if there were more bald women jokes it could lighten the stigma for women who suffer even more than their male counterparts. When I asked that same 34 people who originally responded to my initial question, what came to mind when they would see a woman who was bald or losing her hair, the words “sick”, “illness” and “Cancer” were the top three. Men lose their hair. Women who do are “ill”. We have much to learn as a society.
So, I found some good news to counter my original search on bald jokes when I decided to punch in the term – bald is beautiful. 361,000 results! And, finally I found zero “Yo mama’s” and plenty of empowering sites for women who suffer from hair loss and those who prefer to go without. I’m thinking that’s progress. Maybe after all, at least for men, people don’t really care as much as you do about your hair challenges. Maybe spending less timing hiding it and more time living it would do you a world of good. And maybe women who are bald could do a lot to educate the rest of us on just how beautiful bald really is!
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