A friend once recounted an amusing tale to me.
‘I love boobs,’ a boy had remarked to her, when they were in bed together.
‘Have you heard of Tim Minchin?’ she asked, and next minute both of them were singing the musical comedian’s song ‘Fuck I Love Boobs, Though.’ A fun moment, it also showed them that they had something in common, that they could enjoy the same music and crack the same jokes. The laughter didn’t ‘ruin the moment,’ but enhanced it.
It’s a common platitude of gossip magazines that girls dig a guy with a sense of humour, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. Yet in popular culture, this humour is often banished from the bedroom. Rom Coms have cringe-worthy sex scenes, but it seems that Serious Lovers must have Serious Sex. It is all earth-shattering intensity, yearning glances and profound declarations of feeling. The Lulz have no place. Think of Edward and Bella, hero and heroine of the love-it-or-hate-it Twilight Saga. Their love, we are told, is the deepest and most true love that one heart ever felt for another, but they never seem to find this love much fun. They spend most of their time trying to convince each other that they love each other, each being convinced that the other doesn’t love them, and each worrying that the other is about to die. Maybe Bella would have felt more secure in Edward’s love if he’d occasionally cracked a smile.
The same is true of the sex in the early episodes of Game of Thrones, except for one scene where three giggling prostitutes pile on top of Tyrion Lannister. Granted, most of the sex apart from that scene is about power and politics – and if you go about your love-making with all the levity of a stock-broker examining the Financial Times, power is what it will start to seem about for you and your partner, too. Best to remember, like the prostitutes, that it’s just a bit of harmless fun before dinner, and to giggle about it.
This columnist has always been more charmed by sex scenes where the characters’ personalities – and any inherent silliness – shine through. The same holds true for real-life relationships. Personality is a large part of what attracts us to one another, so why leave that personality behind at the bedroom door? Be yourself! If you laugh together while hanging out, laugh together in bed too.
This also goes for friends-with-benefits and one-night stands. Though casual sex is now a more-or-less accepted part of life, our culture still tends to value monogamous relationships as the most meaningful and valuable. As a result, people who have sex on a casual basis can often be left feeling insecure, worrying that their partners only see them as quick shags, or respect them less for ‘giving it up’ too easily. A bit of light-hearted banter won’t lead to messy feelings, but will reassure your partner that you care about their mind, not just their body.
Sex, especially for young people in the process of discovering their own sexuality, can be a bit of an emotional mine-field. Your partner might be worried that you’ve been hurt by the experience, that they’ve annoyed you, that they’ve under-performed. In these situations, be sensitive! If your partner seems upset, cut all the humour and comfort them. But, to reassure both of you that everything is okay and that everyone is still friends, a smile and a joke works wonders.
It’s not all about sensation and emotion, either. Unfortunately, sex, like any other team sport, comes with its own set of logistical problems. Take condoms, for example. They get a lot of bad press, accused of killing spontaneity and reducing sensitivity, but with the right attitude, they can add to the fun. Invest in some glow-in-the-dark condoms, make a Star Wars reference, and your partner will be laughing as hard as they’ll be coming later. Speaking of geeky pop culture, don’t panic if you hook up with someone and belatedly realise you’ve forgotten to change your My Little Pony bed sheets. Who knows; maybe your date will laugh and spend two hours discussing the series with you before you even get busy, and you’ll have made a friend for life. Video-game references also find their place. The only thing better than singing ‘Fuck I Love Boobs, Though’ together during foreplay is yelling ‘level up!’ together during climax.
Some people may still feel that cracking jokes just isn’t for them. Unfortunately, our bodies tend to have different ideas. Everybody has a story of a time when things went wrong. A misplaced fart, a nose-bleed, something that tickles, something that hurts…when you’re having sex, the opportunities for accidental farce are legion. They happen to everyone, but they needn’t spoil the moment. Passing wind is embarrassing when it happens at the office, but sex partners aren’t co-workers. When you find someone whom you’re so comfortable with that the two of you can giggle like six-year-olds together, you’ll know you’re really on to a keeper. Introducing kinks or toys into the equation adds even more opportunities for both embarrassment and fun. Behind every bondage expert is a pair of dorky youths wrestling with twenty yards of tangled rope. You can either get upset that your smouldering encounter isn’t perfect in every detail, or see the funny side and have a laugh about it.
At the end of the day, the fact is that even when it’s going well, sex is still pretty funny. Humans, the most philosophical, serious and introspective species on the planet, fretting and obsessing over genitals and bodily fluids? Snuggle up to your partner, wrap yourselves in your duvet and laugh. Laugh hard.