Local stand-up comic hits national stage
Del Mar native Taylor Williamson said he didn’t need to look far to come up with new material after moving to New York to advance his career in stand-up comedy.
“You go outside and these crazy things are thrown at your eyeballs; the only difference between me and a noncomedian is that they go, ‘That was weird,’ and they keep walking. I go, ‘Oh, that was weird, I’m going to write that down,’ ” Williamson said in a recent phone interview. “I don’t think I’m funny, I just think I write things down more than other people do.”
And that strategy made for the act Williamson used for his recent appearance on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” The Torrey Pines High School alum passed the first round by telling the judges about his experiences trying to meet girls on the New York subway, his observations on the city’s homeless with pet cats, and some other items that were just not fit to print. Williamson travels the country to perform his routine.
“The clubs don’t pay a lot, but (performing at) colleges is how I pay my bills,” he said. “My mom still pays my cell phone bill.”
Williamson moved to L.A. after graduating from TPHS in 2004. He said he started as a stand-up comic when he was 17 years old at La Jolla’s Comedy Store. Williamson said he was not a class clown in high school, but was the guy who would say inappropriate things when given the opportunity. He said he resents not being nominated for funniest person in his senior yearbook.
High school friend Mike Rogers said he and Williamson practically became friends out of necessity.
“He’s pretty geeky… we were almost forced to be friends almost because no one liked us,” he said. “I got put in the trash can, he got put in the trash can, but we didn’t do it to each other, if that makes sense.”
Williamson has developed a shtick that he said is an exaggeration of him, adding that he doesn’t like when he has to placate or change his routine to please a crowd.
“Unfortunately at this point, my job is to make them laugh, not to tell my jokes,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get a unique punch line or two in, such as a self-deprecating comment about how girls are not impressed that he is a comedian.
“I just have something wrong with me that makes me want to go talk to strangers,” he said.
Williamson dropped out of Cal State Northridge to pursue comedy full time.
“My family was really happy about that,” he said sardonically.
He used a “don’t take no for an answer” attitude to line up gigs at several Hollywood improv clubs. He got to know many of the right people in the industry, and finally had the chance to perform at Harrah’s Las Vegas and similar venues for about $100 a pop. He wasn’t the headliner but the “middle guy,” which means he’d be on for 20 to 30 minutes before the main act.
“Experience makes you better,” he said, noting that he could do six shows in one night, offsetting the costs of travel, about $350 to $400.
After turning 21, Williamson decided to move to New York, where he said he could experience a different part of the world but also still pursue his comedic dream. He wound up making an appearance on the “Late, Late Show” with Craig Ferguson, and still travels all around the country to perform. In November, Williamson moved back to L.A.
“I’m not starving, just fortunate,” he said. “I’d rather make $15,000 a year and be happy than make $1 million and be miserable.”
When to watch
- ‘Last Comic Standing’ airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on NBC. Taylor Williamson is scheduled to appear on the July 5 episode.
- Web clips from his other comedy appearances: http://vimeo.com/7293639 and www.nbc.com/last-comic-standing/video/week-one/1232651/
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