I’ve always found Christopher Hitchen’s writing a bit self-indulgent. I often wish he’d just get to the point but then when he does, I’m disappointed in what he comes up with.
A recent article in the New Yorker mentioned his habit of writing articles during dinner parties. That certainly explains a few things. I’m aware that he’s considered a virtuoso intellect. That may be, but I’ve never found any evidence of him being a comedic genius. Perhaps the dinner party writing method is to blame for the essay he’s written this month for Vanity Fair. Women Aren’t Funny.
I can imagine the dinner party that produced this particular essay…
Setting: A dinner party.
Christopher Hitchens, famous writer
Carol Blue, Hitchen’s wife; according to New Yorker article, somewhat famous for her aversion to being mistaken for a housewife and tendency to cultivate a false air of rock-star puzzlement at the more mundane aspects of life, such as shopping for groceries and getting dressed
Graydon Carter, famous for being the editor of Vanity Fair and, before that,Spy
Salman Rushdie, famous for being “fatwah’d” by Ruholla Khomeini for his book, The Satanic Verses; a good friend of Hitch’s
Martin Amis, writer famous for his brilliance as well as for the vicious reviews garnered by his last novel, Yellow Dog; Hitch’s best friend
Hitch’s daughter, not yet famous
Maid, not famous
Bartender, also not famous
Blue: Hitch, darling? Must you leave now? We’ve just begun the soup course.
Hitch: If you’d do up your bathrobe, sweetie, you’d be so much more convincing. I must write a little something for Graydon, eh wot. Pip, pip. I’ll be back momentarily. You won’t even miss me!
2 minutes and 12 seconds later
(Hitchens staggers out of his office clutching a piece of paper and a large, half-empty bottle of gin.)
Everyone! You simply must listen to this! Ha, ha! I do not know how I come up with this stuff.
Maid: (Who is trying to serve the salad course.)
I bet know where you got it.
(She gives a meaningful look in the direction of the Hitch’s rather ample behind.)
In the part I’m going to read to you, I’m making some tremendously insightful and innovative points about how women are humorless bitches who are completely dominated by their biology.
(He begins to read)
“Humor is part of the armor-plate with which to resist what is already farcical enough. (Perhaps not by coincidence, battered as they are by nature, men tend to refer to life itself as a bitch.) Whereas women, bless their tender hearts, would prefer that life be fair, and even sweet, rather than the sordid mess it actually is.”
Now is that not brilliant!?
Oh, Hitch, you old sot. You do know how to wind people up!
Shut up, Amis. Your last book tanked. Salman, what do you think?
Very provocative. But if you really want to upset the apple cart, so to speak, you should suggest that women and humor are entirely antithetical.
Brilliant idea. And by the way, don’t worry, Salman. We’ve checked all the staff. Not one wants to kill you. Ha. Ha.
(Hitch staggers back into his office with a fresh bottle of whiskey.)
3 minutes and 10 seconds later.
(Hitch, nearly unable to stand now, reels out of his office, with a cheap jug of Portuguese wine in one hand and his article in the other.)
Hitch: (In a slurred voice)
Salman, I’ve incorporated your changes. Now here’s my big closing argument. This’ll get them so fired up they’ll forget I said it was an excellent idea for the U.S. to invade Iraq.
Aren’t you still saying that?
Hitch: (Ignores Amis. Begins to read.)
“For men, it is a tragedy that the two things they prize the most—women and humor—should be so antithetical. But without tragedy there could be no comedy.”
Christ, I’ve caught my leopard print heel in the hem of my satin bathrobe. Dear God, what shall I do?
Blue, I keep telling you, God is Not Great. Ha! Get it? That’s a joke. God is Not Great is the title of my new book.
And gentlemen, wouldn’t you say women get funnier as they get older? Look at my darling Blue. She’s got to be at least twenty-five now.
Maid: (Whispering so the mens’ hearing aids won’t pick it up.)
In her dreams. Man, this guy is such an assweed.
Did someone say my ass is fat? That’s unfair! It just looks fat because I left a towel on under my bathrobe. Hitch and I have so many heady and serious discussions that I can never remember to get completely dressed! See, if I take off the towel, like so, my ass looks much slimmer.
Hitch: (Ignoring all of them.)
Before that part I have this brill bit where I say that the only truly funny women are “hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.”
Isn’t that priceless!?
Maid: (Not bothering to whisper anymore.)
Hitch’s thirteen year old daughter:
Dad, you are such an embarrassing, reductive windbag. Can I have twenty bucks so I can go see Margaret Cho in concert?
But Hitch my dear fellow, might not one say the same thing about a lot of male comics?
Shut up, Amis. Your last book tanked.
I think the bartender you’ve hired is looking at me funny. Are you sure you had him properly checked out?
(Hitch falls down and passes out, the bottle of cheap wine explodes all over the dinner table and its occupants. As Hitch comes to a rest on the floor, he is still holding his Vanity Fair article. Graydon Carter gets up and takes it from his hand.)
Jesus! I told you to background the staff before I came for dinner! Now I’ve been attacked, damn it all.
This little piece should stink up the January issue a bit. Just like in my old Spy magazine. They don’t call me the Pretty Boy Provocateur for nothing!
I thought I was the Pretty Boy Provocateur.
I’m sorry gentlemen, but I’m quite sure that particular title is mine. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a bomb but merely a bottle of cheap red wine, but I’m sure that bartender is looking at me funny.
My heel. It’s still caught! How I wish I were still in grad school.
Hitch’s thirteen year old daughter: (As she picks Hitch’s pocket.)
Dad, if you don’t mind, I’m going to liberate a fifty. I’d like to pick up a book by Cintra Wilson or Stella Gibbons before I go to the Cho concert. Funniest. Women. Ever. Bye!
I think you should all know that I’m a genius. Same as everyone here. No matter how badly my last book did. And Rushdie, how do you know that bartender isn’t looking at me? I’ve caused a few controversies in my time, I’ll have you know.
Well, since the Hitch brought it up, let’s take a moment to celebrate all the fantastic funny women we know. Here are a few of the first ones who come to mind:
The Go Fug Yourself Girls
Of course, some of these women may fit part of his criteria, but I’m on a roll here and will not be deterred by facts. In that way, I’m like Hitch. It’s true that I worship at the alter of many a full-figured and/or lesbian and/or jewish funny woman, but they don’t own the whole stage! (Forgive me for running out of linking steam halfway. In my defence, I have a book to finish but you can Google the rest. It’s worth it.)
Of course, the list doesn’t include the many non-famous hilarious women I know. Good old Hitch needs to lay off the pipe or stop mixing his drinks or something. Seriously.