Caroline Timoney is a senior at Georgetown, Executive Producer of the Improve Association, and the voice behind the “I may have girlbossed a bit too close to the sun” TikTok audio. Caroline currently has 78.5K followers and 15.1M likes on TikTok where she makes comedy content. I had the honor of sitting down with Caroline to talk about what it means to be funny, the not-so-funny future, and being recognized while crying on the street.
Gene Kim: When did you discover you were funny?
Caroline Timoney: I started to identify with liking comedy at a younger age. I would see something on TV, and I would be like, “That’s so funny,” and go reenact scenes for my mom. Then [as I got older], I got more into watching comedy shows. My sister and I, especially in high school, were known for being funny—but what’s funny about that is that out of the two of us, I was thought of as more serious, while my sister was more silly. Now she’s the one doing computer science and—
GK: You’re doing TikTok. The joke’s on them.
CT: Yeah, right! But my sister is so funny. I used to send my sister all my videos when I first started out. I would get so nervous about posting videos, so I would send them to her first to check if they were funny. But now that I’ve done so many, I like to say I have a better sense, but sometimes I have no idea what makes a video do well.
GK: What makes you feel like a video has done well, regardless of numbers? Do you change your comedy based on how a video does?
CT: Sometimes, it’s hard for me to separate the two. Even if there’s a video that I really liked, if it kind of flops, it’s hard for me because I think, “Oh, well, maybe it was just funny to me at that moment.”
If a video does well, I think about doing more videos like that. But it’s hard because I also don’t want to get too repetitive.
I like trying different forms [of comedy]. That’s also a concern, though, because some people have a super identifiable brand, whereas my account isn’t streamlined but just a bunch of styles.
GK: Well, you’re already going so far beyond just TikTok. You’re really involved with the Improv Association on campus, you do stand-up, and you’ve been doing some MC-ing here on campus. Clearly, you know how to engage a live audience as well as a digital one, but how is it different?
CT: On TikTok, if a joke doesn’t do well, worse comes to worst, the video just flops, which happens to me all the time, so I’m not too upset by that. But if a joke doesn’t do well and you’re in front of an audience, there will be no sound. At all. And you just need to move on to the next one which is tough. Doing stand-up in New York this summer was so hard. I feel like I learned so much, and it was cool because there’s such a scene of young comedians helping each other out. But stand-up is so hard. It’s interesting to see how well you’re received depending on the room that you’re in. Like I had some times in New York where I would be performing and realize that I was the only woman on the line-up, this entire audience is basically men, and I’m talking about Zara…
GK: Are you able to adjust your set on stage?
CT: I’m not as good at crowd work on my feet. I find that doing stand-up on your feet is very different from improv. But what has helped me be better at stand-up is sometimes treating it more like acting for myself. Rather than just trying to talk, if I’m able to lean into a character or an exaggerated version of myself, then it’s easier for me to come up with jokes.
GK: Every time I run into you on campus or we’re talking in a group setting, your comebacks are so fast—the ball never drops. So, for me, I don’t feel a difference between your persona and your person, but could you speak about that difference?
CT: I don’t necessarily think there’s a disconnect there; it’s still my humor. But I hope people get that it’s not exactly me. For instance, I have a lot of jokes about being lazy and a bad worker… And one time this summer, one of my bosses was like, “Hey, we saw your video…” and it was about not paying attention in meetings. The company’s TikTok actually commented on it, and their brand is kind of work jokes, but it was kind of awkward. So, I have to be careful.
GK: I feel like you are careful because you’re also as respectful and kind as you are funny.
CT: A lot of my jokes can be edgy or even raunchy—but they’re not offensive. I think people get nervous to talk about some things, and then they can’t distinguish between what’s uncomfortable and what’s offensive. But the line is pretty clear. I hate when people say comedians are supposed to be the ones to say what no one wants to say because comedy isn’t about being offensive or taking people down.
GK: What can we look forward to next from Caroline Timoney?
CT: [After graduation], I want to do screenwriting which I feel like is very New York or L.A. Even more so in L.A., though living in California would be scary for me just because it’s so far from home. But for my first years out of college, I’m willing to go anywhere as long as I can do something I like. Or, even that just pays money. But I really want to prioritize working in entertainment because I could see myself saying, “Oh, I’ll just do some other job for a little bit,” and then having a marketing career for 30 years, not having ever done what I wanted to do. So I’m being specific about the jobs I’m looking for. But it’s such a hard industry to break into.
GK: Well, you have already gone viral. I don’t have TikTok, but even I saw your “girlboss” audio.
CT: A lot of times, people don’t even know that it’s me. I’ve had close friends just say it in front of me, actually not knowing I came up with it. I think the audio just doesn’t sound very much like my voice. If someone recognizes me, it’s because they’ve seen my TikToks and not just heard the audio. It also feels different being recognized at Georgetown. It’s nice when people I don’t know say something, but it’s not surprising to me that they would have heard of it because we go to the same school. But in New York, I sometimes got recognized on the street, which was crazy. One time I was actually just crying on the street—
GK: As anyone does.
CT: Exactly—as anyone should, as anyone could, anyone would—and someone just stopped me and said, “TikTok!” and kept on walking. It did make me feel a bit better.
Gene Kim is a senior in the College studying Theology with a minor in Korean. She is also the Senior Advisor for the INDY.