ACTOR Joseph Gordon-Levitt may be a pin-up on the rise ... but with a recent throwaway comment, he incurred the wrath of his ever-growing female fanbase.
When quizzed about working with his Looper co-star Emily Blunt, Joseph noted: "She's funny ... and let's face it, most pretty girls aren't funny."
Days later, Irish actor Chris O'Dowd -- who has worked with comedy queens Lena Dunham and Kristen Wiig -- waded into the fray: "I think there's something in the fact that it's hard to be good looking and funny. You have to have an oddball quality; people have to empathise with you to find you funny."
In the end -- and in the face of much derision -- Joseph issued a sincere apology for his short-sighted comment, saying that "in our culture, girls do tend to get pigeonholed... and I was trying and failing to pay [Blunt] a compliment about the fact that she really succeeded in avoiding those traps and not getting pigeonholed."
And so the fact remains: when it comes to good looks and a charming, engaging and witty personality, many still believe that never the twain shall meet.
'Bubbly personality' has become a euphemism for those who, when it comes to looks, are a five or six (out of 10), while it is reckoned that the Perfect 10s never bothered to cultivate a personality ... because they never had to.
"It's not something that there is any evidence on, but it has been observed anecdotally that people might use humour to attract attention, and a very attractive lady or guy wouldn't need to do that," says consultant psychologist Owen Connolly (www.counsellor.ie).
"People who are perceived as not being universally attractive find their attractiveness is in being funny.
"If you were to do a survey of comedians in the world, you'll find most of them would fall into category of sensitive, cautious individuals, who use humour as a way of expressing themselves." On the flipside, models are roundly cast in society as having won the looks lottery ... but got a little short-changed in the wit department.
Of this oft-perpetuated stereotype, psychologist Allison Keating (www.bwell.ie) notes: "People can be harsh on good-looking people.
"Sometimes people can be intimidated and there's this sense that you can't have it all. On a deeper level, there's a need to pull others down."
Of course, another unsettling theory is bubbling under all the while ... that funny girls are not attractive. Sure, we have the comely Kristen Wiig ... oh, and Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman. Alas, none of them have been anointed with 'smouldering sex symbol' status like, say, Megan Fox or Jessica Alba.
Cold, hard research states that men find female wits a turn-off. They'd much rather have a girlfriend who found them funny.
Anne-Marie Cussen, co-owner of Dublin introductions agency It's Just Lunch, says: "Men don't like humour.
"I've interviewed a lot of men, and they want their women to look, act and behave like women.
"They like women to be intelligent and smart, but they really don't like the ladette thing. They do like someone to showcase their humour in a subtle, witty way."