You Can't Joke About That

Why Everything Is Funny, Nothing Is Sacred, and We're All in This Together

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Kat Timpf was a welcome and reliable chronicler of amusing goings-on over the years; I linked to her writing, usually at National Review here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. (Many of those items were bylined "Katherine Timpf", which now seems overly formal.) Her current gig, a mainstay on Greg Gutfeld's show on Fox News, seems to have crowded out her writing, which is a real shame. But she wrote this book, and I snapped it up from Portsmouth Public Library when it became available, and…

I share Kat's basically-libertarian politics, and her generally tolerant and well-meaning attitudes toward life. She is disdainful of the "speech = violence" crowd, and so am I. So I wish I liked this book better. It's not awful, but…

As the title implies, its main theme is the increasing clampdown on free speech, especially speech that aspires to humor. As you'll note, the book cover shows Kat posed on a coffin, with a mic and a beer. Yes, death is one of the things Kat believes can be a fruitful source of humor. But not just death; there's politics, religion, physical and mental illness, infirmity, dysfunctional relationships with friends, family, and lovers, and more.

So she's a defender of edgy humor, as when Kathy Griffin posed for a picture holding up a blood-soaked mask depicting Donald Trump. Okay, maybe not that funny. But career-wrecking? Kat says no. That's just one example, and she has more.

Yes, sometimes comedic efforts misfire badly. (As do non-comedic efforts; just look at college administrators come up with responses to anti-semitism among their sstudents.) Suck it up, comment on their fumbles, and move on.

So what's my problem? Well, Kat doesn't have any insights you can't get from other sources. (How many ways can you say "Suck it up and move on", after all?) She chronicles a bunch of stuff that I'm pretty sure we've all heard before. Her writing style seems to be adapted from her stand-up act and appearances on Gutfeld!; many parts read as if they were dictated, not typed. We get a voluminous amount of information on Kat's personal life: dealing with family, lovers, illness, pets, death, …

Sometimes this works. At one point, she breaks into a soliloquy on Blink-182 that's pretty hilarious, even on the page. But more often, I'm like, okay get on with it.

And, by the way, one of the minor irritations is her constant use of "like", in the way I did above.

So: an easy read, but more superficial than I would have expected from a onetime National Review journalist.

Last Modified 2024-01-09 6:46 PM EDT