This blog was featured on 07/11/2016
The Only Woman on the Humor Bestseller List

My new book How Not To Act Old is on the New York Times Bestseller List, a real thrill especially since it’s my first time after 18 books. But an even bigger thrill might be being the only writer in the Amazon Humor Top Ten without a penis.

Not only have I been the only female over the past month among the leading humor books, but I’m the lone girl in a pack of bros – you know, those hard-drinking, free-swearing, babe-chasing young guys hoping there’s beer in hell along with a bunch of buxom Satanettes. I hate being around these kinds of guys in real life, my only comfort being that as a woman over 50 I’ve become totally invisible to them.

The most valuable thing they figure I might offer them is a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies, the most interesting thing about me my theoretical ability to bake Bitch. Yeah, I know. That’s part of what I’m loving about this whole experience: imagining all those guys with their loutish TV shows and misogynistic stand-up acts hating me because I’m an old lady. What’s she doing on our bestseller list?, I imagine them saying. Doesn’t she know that barf, boobs, and booze are the only things that are really funny?

Here’s my theory: All those other books dominate the humor list because they’re bought by middle-aged moms – by far the dominant bloc of book buyers -- desperately trying to entice their loser sons to read. And while Mom is looking for a book, any book, that might raise Brandon’s score of 480 on the Verbal SAT, she spies How Not To Act Old, the first book she’s seen that actually makes fun of the things she thinks are funny. Female funny, but not granny jokes about varicose veins or chick lit jokes about bad dates. Jokes about when to get a bikini wax and how to get out of holding the baby and why you’re not allowed to tell man-bashing jokes anymore – and why I’m going to do it anyway.

What do you call the only woman on the Humor Top Ten Bestseller list? Pretty damn proud.

*This post was originally published in August 2009.

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  • Elaine Harrigan

    Pamela--I think the stars have aligned in women's favor for gutzy humor, and how great that you're here at the right time ! I was surprised to learn that it's only been since the 1990s that women have started to make even the smallest dent in Hollywood power circles. So it seems entertainment as a whole--and I think we can include humor--is still suffering from la long history of sexism. It was a man's world. Even though women like Totie Fields, Phyllis Diller, and Joan Rivers forged the path, we are still sorely misrepresented in the humor genre. With more and more women taking on producer roles on top-rated TV sitcoms, I think we're going to see a greater openness to women's perspectives, not just "women-only" humor. Like Linda Lou says, I think we just have to keep plugging along and be out there. Eventually, it will pay off.

    Read me on Blooming in Midlife or wrote something about moving from the "pad" (as in Kotex), to my fears of moving to the "other pad" (as in Depends). No, men don't relate, but I do have avid male followers! So, maybe men are finally accepting the fact we're funny!

  • Linda Lou

    Congratulations, Pamela! But I want to say a word about being invisible.

    I'm a 51-year-old comic here in Las Vegas. I moved here alone six years ago after a midlife divorce, and as I say in my upcoming memoir, Bastard Husband: A Love Story, I had "no job, no friends, and no bastard husband." To get out of the house, I starting hanging out at a dive bar that had open mic comedy and after a few months, I mustered the courage to try it myself.

    As you know, the comedy scene is dominated by young guys in their 20s. You'd think they wouldn't want anything to do with me--one guy was born on the exact same day as my son--but I cannot tell you how warmly they embraced me. I will never forget how kind and encouraging they were to me at a time when I was really quite miserable and had nobody.

    I NEVER felt invisible, and still don't. I wrote a column on the topic of middle aged women being invisible: And the working title of my next book is Invisible No More! An Aging Nymph's Guide to Getting Noticed at Any Age. I think we're as invisible as we want to be.

    That said, I do have a pretty good repertoire of blow job jokes. Maybe that's why they like me.

    Again, congratulations!


    Linda Lou

  • You go -- I bought HOW NOT TO ACT OLD for two women of a certain age last week (my mom and my aunt) and they both LOVED it -- next I am going to buy them thongs. I am so interested in this issue of how/why women are not considered "funny," when so many of the ones I know are. In a way I think it gets back to this idea of the man as the default -- men are are "funny" and women are just writing about woman-stuff, humorously. What does everybody think?

  • LindaLowen

    Congratulations, Pam -- you've earned it.

    You probably don't remember, but we go way back -- 15 years ago, you interviewed me for a Sesame Street Magazine article about women juggling parenthood. I was the mom who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after the interview The good news is, I'm a 15-year survivor..and working as a writer myself these days. I'm glad good things have come your way. Your article gave me back a piece of my life at a time when I had become nothing nothing more than a patient battling a disease.

    I'm looking forward to getting a copy of How Not To Act Old although I, for one, am glad to *be* old...and to still be here.

  • Erin Hosier

    18 books, holy crap! And congrats!