What's So Funny About A Man With A Baby?

One of the most popular go-to comedy clichés is a man with a baby. Just think about it! Hilarious, right? What would a man be doing with a baby?

Last night I saw new dick flick The Hangover, from the guy who brought us Road Trip and Old School. There will be more about the film at a later date; but for now, let’s just focus on the parts that included a baby. See, the gist of the movie is this: Four guys go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, and when they wake up in the morning, they can’t remember any of the last 24 hours — but there’s a baby (and a tiger) in their hotel suite. At a Q&A last night, director Todd Phillips said, “We tried to think, okay, you wake up, what’s the worst thing you could see?” Hence the baby. (And the tiger.)

But about the baby: Of the three men who find the kid, only one is actually a father, and he is the least interested in the child’s welfare. The baby gets hit with a car door, left in a parked car — in Las Vegas, in the desert sun — there’s even a sex joke made. About a baby. Yes, it’s a comedy, and the moments get big laughs — the guys are clearly being idiots — but would people laugh at women who did the same things? (Oh, that’s right: bad mother’s don’t get laughs. They get misdemeanor charges, and sometimes book deals.) But men and babies: Why is that funny? What is the root of the humor? That men just aren’t “cut out” to be nurturing?

These same thoughts came up while watching the latest "Guide To Man Style", in which comedy duo Gabe And Max give "advice" to new fathers, like clean your baby in the shower and give it Red Bull bottles.

Where do we get this idea that men are wackily unfit to be around infants and kids? And shouldn’t we have left it behind years ago, when Mr. Mom and Three Men And A Baby came out?

Gabe And Max Are Your Baby Daddies [Videogum]
Related: A Stand-Up Gets His Close Up [WSJ]
Related, sorta: The Cult Of The Bad Mother: When Everyone Is A “Bad parent,” Is Anyone? [Babble]

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