Finishing a contest in second place can sting a little. But for comedian Taylor Williamson, a former America's Got Talent contestant, the level of exposure was just as good (maybe better) as winning the damn thing. Bringing a boyish quality and a sarcastic and somewhat dry delivery, Williamson has finally hit his stride after being in the stand-up game for 10 years. With his first headlining gig at the Irvine Improv this weekend (March 13th through 16th), we chatted it up with him to learn more about the man behind the "second place win." And for the record, he quickly became number one to us.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): Do you think it's easier or harder to start comedy early on in life? I mean, maybe life experience helps or maybe it's better to have fresh ideas.
Taylor Williamson: I think starting out younger is worse because you have nothing to talk about but, you're crazy and stupid enough to keep preforming even though people think that you suck. You just bomb all of the time but you think you're great so you keep on doing it even though you probably shouldn't because it's not a healthy thing to do. I mean, why would you keep putting yourself in physiologically damaging scenarios? Your brain isn't fully developed though so you don't know any better! Eventually you become funny. Well, hopefully!
How long do you think it took you to really get the hang of it or are you always a work in progress?
Well I'm always growing but I'm comfortable with the jokes I've written. When people come see me do an hour at a comedy club, I'm super confident because I know a majority of the jokes work so I know how it's going to go. When I'm trying out a new joke that I've never done before, it's terrifying. It's a really scary feeling and I go right back to, what am I going to do with my life if this doesn't work? [Laughs.] If I try out a joke and it doesn't work, I feel like all of the good shows were a fluke and the jokes that didn't work are real life.
Oh come on now! I'm sure you're on the right path but, have you ever thought of a backup plan?
No! I have no other skills! [Laughs.] Last year, my career was so bad and I had no money so I was thinking, "What am I going to do with my life?" It's like I was a failure for 10 years and then after Americas Got Talent I made some money and now I'm an overnight success in 10 years.
OK you comics are so hard on yourselves! I don't even get it.
[Laughs.] Don't get me wrong I mean, I have really high self-esteem and I think I'm amazing but the problem is, other people don't always agree with me.
I hear that if someone isn't hating, you're doing it all wrong. So speaking of America's Got Talent, how cool was Howard Stern behind the scenes?
Oh he's amazing! He's so cool! Not to sound all cliché but, there were so many dreams that came true. I've been paying my bills doing comedy forever but now I actually have a real career and I'm OK. It was super cool having Howard Stern think I'm funny and be cool to me. Howie Mandel was so rad and I got to kiss Heidi Klum so that was pretty cool too! Nick Cannon was rad too and there were just so many amazing things that I got to do throughout the whole thing. Howard Stern thinking I'm funny and getting a standing ovation from him was the best thing I think.
Did Howard try to push you to adopt a cat or anything? I know he's big on that now…
[Laughs.] No. I'm actually glad he didn't because if Howard told me to adopt a cat I'd probably be like, OK Howard Stern!
I hear ya. So on Twitter I've noticed that there is a "Taylords" hashtag. What's up with that? I need answers.
Well it's kind of like this tongue-and-cheek thing because there was this guy on AGT who did a hashtag for his band and we were like, this is ridiculous. Then he kept getting voted through and we were like, this guy's a genius! So I told the producers that I wanted to name my fans "lame sons of bitches" but they wouldn't let me say that on TV. That's when I came up with "Taylords" because it sounds funny. Then it became a real thing! It's so cute because now these kids come to my shows and they make these "Taylord" t-shirts and signs. It's really special though because it was supposed to be this joke thing and now it's real and I love it.
I guess it backfired in a good way. I grabbed two Twitter questions that I noticed you didn't answer so let's do that now.
So @G_Bends asked the same day you left Pittsburgh, "@TaylorComedy so when you coming back to Pittsburgh!?"
[Laughs.] People are so funny. The most common question I get is, "When are you coming to my city?" It's so crazy because if you can get on my Twitter, then you know I have a website! The tour dates are all right there! Half of the time I think that they are asking so I'll write back but then again, it's also nice because maybe they had a good time and they want to see me again too.
Ahhh true that. OK @HHawk asked, "How do you stay so funny is such a cruel sad world? #taylord4Ever"
[Laughs.] Was it a man that said that? It's funny because I'll get questions from what seems like a 13 year-old girl but it'll be from a 40 year-old dude. It's like, alright there, buddy! Hmm…so how do I stay funny in such a cruel world? I don't know. I don't have a funny answer for that. It's always hard too because I want to say something funny but my sense of humor is so dry that it comes off weird on paper. I guess in a cruel sad world I'm really lucky that I get to make people laugh. For an hour I can say stupid things and people can forget about their problems. It's like for all of the selfish reasons that I do comedy, I'm very lucky that I get to make people happy.
Oh my god that was cavity inductively sweet. So how pumped are you to headline the Irvine Improv?
I'm really excited. I've performed there but it'll be my first time headlining so it's a really big deal for me. You know a year ago I couldn't even get a hosting weekend there! I was so broke and had zero dollars so I needed all of the gigs I could get. It's just really cool that a year later I get to headline there. I hope that people will come out and see me talk about losing on a reality show, my crazy family, and hear me make fun of the less fortunate. You know, all of the classy things!
Catch Taylor Williamson at the Irvine Improv March 13th through 16th, 71 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618, (949) 854-5455. For tickets go to www.Improv.com. Grab his comedy CD "Laughter? I Hardly Know Her!" on Amazon and for more information, check out his website www.Taylor-Williamson.squarespace.com and follow him on Twitter @TaylorComedy.