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Comedian Taylor Tomlinson tells a church-approved Titanic joke and shuts down grandma (and mansplainers) at the dinner table.
YR Media's Merk Nguyen and Nyge Turner sat down with comedian Taylor Tomlinson for a conversation about how she got into comedy at a young age, and what it's like to have made it on a Netflix thumbnail.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media's Adult ISH podcast (episode 4 - Pro ISH).
Merk: You're rockin’ a sweet leather jacket on your set on The Tonight Show and on Netflix's The Comedy Lineup, achieving those Netflix thumbnail dreams for us all. Is it everything you ever hoped for?
Taylor: It really is…I mean, everything you ever hope for sounds a lot grander than it actually feels. It's just kind of you being excited alone. But yeah, it's very surreal to see a thumbnail of yourself right next to Queer Eye.
Merk: Your career as a comedian started in your mid teens, the prime time for awkward adolescence. What was it like knowing while everyone else was getting their start on driving cars, you were getting your start on your comedy career?
Taylor: It's weird because looking back on it, a lot of people are like, “Oh! That's so great that you started so soon.” But at the same time, you're 16. You don't have anything to talk about. I was literally doing jokes about not going to prom. It's good for learning how to be on stage and how to write jokes, but you only have the life experience that you have at that point. I'm 24 now and I'm still like, “I got to live some life.”
Nyge: Why did you jump into comedy in the first place?
Taylor: In my junior year of high school, my dad wanted to hang out before I went to college. So he signed us up for a standup comedy class. I don't even think he thought I was very funny. We went and took this class at a church taught by a church comedian. I grew up super religious, so I started opening for that guy at basically everywhere that wasn't a club.
Nyge: Do you remember any of the jokes from back then?
Taylor: When I was around 17, I'd say, ”I'm really sorry that I'm so young. I know there's going to be some generational differences tonight. You guys probably saw Titanic in theaters. I saw Titanic on VHS. When you saw Titanic, you cried because Jack died. And when I saw Titanic, I cried because Leonardo DiCaprio didn't look like that anymore.”
Nyge: How do you gain respect from older people?
Taylor: By hating myself more than they hate me. Sometimes they're going to think I'm dumb, I'm ignorant, or haven't had enough life experience. I think they just hate it when millennials are walking around like they know exactly what they're doing. I think a lot of people our age are kind of trying to do everything like, “I'm going to party really hard. I'm going to nail it professionally, but I'm also going to go out and drink and hook up and I'm going to experience life.” You can't do all of that stuff at once.
Merk: Let's pretend you're at a family gathering. What do you do if your grandma or uncle shows up and hits you with the "What are you doing with your life" question?
Taylor: You just have to accept that you're going to have to kind of handhold people through what you do. Maybe practice it in the car on the way over and have some questions for them, in case you want to stop talking about what you do. "How are you doing? Are you happy? Do you need me to get your pills? Do you still love grandpa?" Just hit them with harder-hitting questions. Distract and deflect.
Nyge: I have a question about mansplaining. My dad's done it, my grandpa's done it, Obama probably does it. Has there ever been an instance where you've been mansplained to?
Taylor: Of course. One thing that women in comedy get [from guys] is: “You can't wear this on stage because that's going to make people see you in a certain way.” Or [they try] explaining to you how to do comedy. All your hairs stand up on your arms like, “Get out before I say something very rude.”
Nyge: How do you shut down a mansplain?
Taylor: I just kind of nod and smile get through the conversation. Once they stop talking, I immediately cut them out of my life. You obviously don't think I'm very intelligent, so why would I keep someone like that around? If it's somebody that you're in a relationship with, just go, “Hey, you're being condescending and there's a word for it. Let's pull up Urban Dictionary right now and learn some things.”