Kat Timpf, author of "You Can't Joke About That," can be seen nightly on the talk show "Gutfeld!" Photo courtesy of Fox News
NEW YORK, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Comedian, podcaster, political columnist and Fox News contributor Kat Timpf says her new memoir, You Can't Joke About That, is intended to entertain and enlighten people of all walks of life, regardless of who they vote for.
Timpf can be seen five nights a week on the 10 p.m. talk show, Gutfeld!, and she will be in Texas on Saturday and Sunday to headline live comedy shows and promote her best-selling book.
"My book is not a political book. My book has one chapter about politics that's called 'Sorry This One is About Politics,'" Timpf told UPI in a phone interview Wednesday.
"It's a human book about human stuff," she said. "I talk about near-death experience. I talk about body-image issues. I talk about terminal illness. I talk about death. Human stuff, not political stuff."
You Can't Joke About That is, at its heart, a personal, honest look at the power of words and humor and how differently people can interpret and react to these.
Timpf decided to write the book after her first ileostomy surgery to treat a life-threatening perforated bowel three years ago.
"My dad was saying, 'Kat, you're only 32, but what have you not been through?' And I said, 'Everything you go through is building a connection with everyone else who has been through it, too," she said.
"When I thought about it more, I thought, 'What's the use if we can't talk about it?'"
When she was recovering from surgery, she said, she was too embarrassed to discuss it with many people, mainly because she didn't want them to treat her differently.
This experience, she admitted, made her realize how she tended to keep her feelings to herself during tough times, such as when her mother died.
"Humor is what helped me get through. I really think the rules we have set up for speech are the wrong ones and they are actually hurting the same people they are purportedly supposed to help," Timpf said.
She said she doesn't think conversations should put free speech and comedy on one side and sensitivity on the other.
"That's the wrong way to look at it," Timpf said.
"I'm a very sensitive person. I've got a lot of feelings, and I think if someone hurts your feelings, you should say that and talk about that, right?
"But there is a difference between that and expecting the world to revolve around your feelings. Once we can express ourselves more freely and openly, then there are no limits to how we can connect to each other."
She emphasized in the book how important intention is and how often context is missed in the repeating of words, particularly in the age of social media.
"If somebody didn't intend to hurt your feelings, if someone is just trying to make a joke, then we should weigh that in how we respond," Timpf said.
"That's not to say that you can't be hurt by something because, of course, you can, but we should really keep in mind that the way we respond, other people will be watching and paying attention.
"That might make somebody afraid to make a joke about another subject that might be something you're going through and a joke you might actually need at that time of your life."
She offered as an example the conservatives who condemned comedian Kathy Griffin holding up what appeared to be the bloody head of President Donald Trump in 2017.
"I didn't enjoy that as art, but I was also disturbed by conservative calls for her to be prosecuted criminally for it," Timpf said.
"No one really thought Kathy Griffin, star of My Life on the D-List, was going to kill the president," she added. "The intention there was art. She was trying to make a joke."
The writer and TV star doesn't like that free speech has been weaponized according to people's agendas.
"We're really all in this together," she said, noting this has become crystal clear to her as she tours the United States with her stage show.
"We have a lot more in common, I think, than some people want us to believe. Everything's really polarized right now."
As an independent voter and "small 'L' libertarian," Timpf catches criticism from people on both the left and the right wings of the political and media spectrum because her own beliefs might align with one group's, then the other's, depending on the issue she is discussing.
"I work at Fox News, so people on the left don't like that I work here. I'm a libertarian, though. I've never voted for a Republican or a Democrat," she said.
"So, on some issues, maybe I might not be conservative enough for the Fox News audience."
But a lot of different people come to her live shows, and that forces her out of the New York media bubble and makes her feel hopeful about the country.
"A lot of them are different ages, different backgrounds," she said.
"They want to come. They want to laugh. They want to connect. I think we really have a lot more in common than politicians and even media really want us to believe that we do."
She attributes the power of social media to making it look like the country is totally divided and for causing companies -- that should be focusing on creating good products that appeal to the most amount of people -- to wade into controversies they should probably stay out of.
"It can feel so overwhelming -- like everyone hates you -- if you look at social media," Timpf said.
"But it's not real life," she added. "Back before social media, you didn't read constant criticism about yourself.
She also wondered what kind of people feel the need to attack strangers online.
"People are afraid of mobs, one way or the other," she said. "Often, the extremes are the loudest voices and they do get the most attention on social media."
For the past year, Timpf has co-hosted a nightly version of the former Saturday evening program, Gutfeld!, with Greg Gutfeld and Tyrus.
Even before the Writers Guild of America strike put other late night shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers into reruns, Gutfeld!'s comedic look at topical issues outpaced them in viewership numbers. (Gutfeld! writers are not part of the union.)
"It's been a lot of fun. It's been wild. I was very excited to have the show go five nights a week," Timpf said about the program, which includes comedians, pundits and politicians on its guest list.
"I love to have the platform. I'm fully myself. I can fully express myself," she added. "Me, Greg and Tyrus are all very different and I think that makes it more interesting to watch."
The show also occasionally features pre-taped comedy sketches.
"I wish we had time to do more of them!" Timpf said. "We're a small staff, but it's something I want to more of, for sure."