Christopher Hitchens once famously posed the question, ''why are women who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny?'' Here's an idea. Because they're too busy doing stuff that they don't have time to put their hilariousness on display. Or when they do, it's seen as self indulgent, and who wants to be seen as that (even if we all long to be that?) Or here's another idea. They are.
Earlier this month, Will Ferrell, who can be kind of funny himself, launched a female-focused production company to develop television and film projects about and led by women. On the back of films such as Bridesmaids, television shows such as Girls, and starring roles across all mediums from women such as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (when Fey called Academy Award nominated film Gravity "the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age'' at this year's Oscars we almost choked on our popcorn from laughing so much … and don't even mention the supermodel's vagina introduction they gave Leonardo DiCaprio at the Golden Globes), female humour is back under the spotlight.
But can humour be classified along gender lines?
"I know plenty of women who aren't funny," says comedian Urzila Carlson, one of a handful of women appearing at the Canberra Comedy Festival from March 4-9.
Carlson, a South African-born New Zealander (and there's got to be a joke in that somewhere), says she doesn't think comedy is a gender thing, it's all about being able to take the piss out of yourself. (And think about Carlson saying the word piss in her hybrid accent and there's another laugh.)
"Maybe it's easier for women to do that," she says.
"Guys find it easier to say I'm funny and they take the piss out of other people but women are more cautious.
"It's not about being funnier, it's more about going about it in a different way."
Carlson, 38, previously worked in advertising and has been doing stand-up for about five years. In 2013 she won the People's Choice at the NZ International Comedy Festival and featured at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival the same year.
This will be her first time in Canberra - "All I know is that it will be hot and I'll need to pack cotton pants" - and she's looking forward to the Comedy Festival.
"A pessimist looks at a situation and thinks what will be the worst thing that could happen, an optimist thinks what's the best thing … I think what's the funniest thing that could happen … Canberra might be a bit like that."