For the past eight years, Kat Timpf has been bringing her unique brand of comedy to shows like “Red Eye” and “The Greg Gutfeld Show” on Fox News.
Now, as co-host of the top-rated late night show, “Gutfeld!” Timpf, 34, and her colleagues bring insights to the day’s biggest stories.
In her new book, “You Can’t Joke About That: Why Everything Is Funny, Nothing Is Sacred, and We’re All in This Together” (Broadside Books), Timpf stresses the importance of de-stigmatizing so-called sacrosanct subjects in the interest of unity and healing.
The longtime libertarian draws parallels between comedy and religion.
(She also writes lovingly about her herpes-ridden cat, Cheens, who gets a book dedication, while her husband does not.)
The Post talked to Timpf about hate speech, the importance of laughing when things are awful — and why “safe spaces” are bogus.
How do you keep such a good sense of humor when things can be pretty grim around us? Is laughter the secret weapon everyone needs right now?
It’s not that I’m able to keep a sense of humor despite everything being so awful around me. It’s that I’m able to handle everything being so awful because I have a sense of humor. When I first got the job [at Fox], I was coming off a horrible six months: my mom died unexpectedly at 57, my grandma died, and the man who I thought was going to marry broke up with me in front of my father at Coney Island — and then sat next to me on the Ferris wheel afterward. The one thing that got me through it is finding ways to laugh at it; it takes away the power of the worst things in life.
You write about self-censorship in the book getting worse over the years. Do you understand why people muzzle themselves in real life and online?
It makes sense why people do it, but you’re hurting more than just yourself when you self-censor. Every tough thing I’ve ever gone through has been made easier by two things: humor and reminding myself that whenever you go through something tough, you automatically build a connection with anyone else who has, too. But what’s the use if we can’t talk about it? If we allow each other to express ourselves freely and openly, there’s no limit to the way we can connect to those around us.
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What’s your advice to people afraid of becoming pariahs if they do speak up?
It’s presented as if supporting speech is somehow at odds with sensitivity and I understand the fear to speak. We know the refrain “facts don’t care about your feelings,” and that’s true, but sometimes feelings don’t care about your facts — which describes every relationship I had in my 20s! You have to acknowledge that humans are emotional creatures. And if you’re pro free speech, that should include speech about feelings. You’re not a snowflake if something hurts your feelings and you talk about it — it makes you human.
Are there topics you shy away from? What are they, and why?
I caught myself being afraid to talk about the Lia Thomas [controversy] last year. I wrote in the book that I would rather talk about this war in Ukraine — this bloody, complicated geopolitical war — than a women’s college swimming competition. That’s great evidence that the way we’re talking about this issue is wrong. But the fear of talking [about a topic] isn’t the same as making someone agree with you. So If there’s someone that gets accused of being a horrible bigot because they talk about an issue in the wrong way, that’s just going to make them dig in their heels in deeper. And that doesn’t lead to any greater understanding. When you attack people and make them afraid to talk about it, then we won’t be able to have those conversations that help us understand one another.
What’s important to know about “hate speech” — defining it and banning it?
I am terrified at the thought of any hate speech laws because hate speech is in the eye of the beholder. And I don’t feel comfortable making the government that beholder. Everyone has a different view of what that does or doesn’t mean — and whatever laws you can put in place to try to silence someone you disagree with can also be used to silence you. I’ve definitely been the target of hate speech. And there’s nothing scarier than the thought that there would be a law that stops people from saying that, no matter how disgusting or awful they are.