Woman in Late Night or Woman on Tour? (with Taylor Tomlinson)

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When Taylor Tomlinson was interviewing to be the host of After Midnight, she wasn’t even sure she wanted the job. She loved making her own schedule as a touring stand up comedian, and loved her road family. But when the network said she would still have time to be on the road, it was an easy decision to say yes. Sam asks Taylor about how the stakes of her decision making have gotten higher now that other people work for her, choosing to be part of a team, getting advice from other female comedians, and how anxiety can be helpful.

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Taylor Tomlinson, Samantha Bee

Samantha Bee  00:01

Did you know that 10% of the current Senate is named John? It’s true, 10 out of 100 members of the […] exclusive Senate have the same name, which calls to mind the late night TV landscape, where you’ll find twice as many Jimmy’s as you’ll find women. And although the number of Jimmies may change, the number of women seems to always stay the same. Might not always be the same woman, but there’s almost always just one of her. Now this is personal for me, because for a time I was that solo woman on late night TV, which is why today I have some serious choice words for whoever decided at some point that there could only be just one at a time. Ted Johns is exactly the right amount to have in the Senate, but only one female will do the trick on late night TV, why? Do you think we all live together and only one of us can leave the covenant night while the others stay home and bake tomorrow’s bread? Or maybe these people, men, I’m pretty certain. Think that if you hear from one woman, you have heard from all of them. Surely we must all be saying the same thing. So just choose one, put her on TV, let her do the ladies splaining for a few years. So we submerged with a different one. Maybe we’ll let the next one have curly hair. I don’t know. But here’s the thing, women, I don’t know if you know this, we contain multitudes. We’ve been trying to tell you that for literally ever. So we actually, this is so funny. We actually all have different opinions, and we say different things with different interests, and oh, my God, we even have different expertise. You could benefit from having more than one woman on TV at once, just like you benefit from having more than one law and order at once.


Samantha Bee  03:49

The this is Choice Words, I’m Samantha Bee. My guest today is currently the lone lady of late night, and I love watching her rise. You know Taylor Tomlinson from her current show After Midnight and Netflix specials have it all. Look at you and quarter life crisis. I absolutely loved talking to her about what it’s like just starting out in late night, why it’s so frustrating that seemingly there can be only one woman in the genre at a time. She’s great, so take a listen and make the choices. I’m so excited to be talking to you right now.


Taylor Tomlinson  04:45

Me too, it’s so nice to meet you.


Samantha Bee  04:47

It is so nice to meet you. I feel like I’m gonna say it. I feel like everyone in my household really knows you.


Taylor Tomlinson  04:57



Samantha Bee  04:58

Know you, but we like know you we do my kids, we have watched your special. My husband is a really big fan. We’re all just like, really, the Bee Jones family is a family of fans.


Taylor Tomlinson  05:11

Oh, my God, that’s so nice.


Samantha Bee  05:13

I think they’ll be jealous that I’m getting to talk to you. You’re not on tour right now. Your tour is finished. Or are you on the road-ish?


Taylor Tomlinson  05:24

Well, oh, no, I’m on the road. I’m not on the road currently at this moment, but I go to Vegas tomorrow. I have shows in Vegas tomorrow, After Midnight started in January, and I wasn’t touring the first couple months of that, and in the last like month or so, I’m back on the road pretty much most weekends.


Samantha Bee  05:45

When you when you are facing travel like that. Are you like, I’m ready, or are you like, Oh my God, here, here’s I gotta get my packing cubes. Where did I fucking put them? Oh, no.


Taylor Tomlinson  05:57

Man, I was so good about packing cubes for like, a month. Do you use packing cubes?


Samantha Bee  06:02

You know what? I love them so much, and then I always lose them because I have so many different suitcases for all different purposes, like.


Taylor Tomlinson  06:10

Always different sizes.


Samantha Bee  06:11

All different sizes. And in some ways, I do think they’re great. I think they really help.


Taylor Tomlinson  06:17

Yeah, I think they do too. And I have also lost all of mine.


Samantha Bee  06:22

They’re elusive, those little bastards. They’re like, a single sock.


Taylor Tomlinson  06:26

They really make you feel like you have your shit together, though.


Samantha Bee  06:30

Well, what’s better than opening your suitcase and it’s just a game of it’s just Tetris. You’re just like, look at this, this mind that put this together, this fit this puzzle together. I’ve got it all.


Taylor Tomlinson  06:43

I know, if I were truly organized, I would like label them probably, that would be next level. My favorite thing to do is, instead of improving myself in my life, I just like watch other women on Tiktok doing days in the life where.


Samantha Bee  07:00

Yeah right, and folding and, like getting, making everything look in a drawer, just so beautiful that you can pluck it out. I think that’s very that’s a high achieving mind, yeah.


Taylor Tomlinson  07:12

But when I watch enough of them, I feel like I did it.


Samantha Bee  07:15

You did, because you basically did. I mean essentially were on, you were on that journey with them, right? It was your idea.


Taylor Tomlinson  07:23

It was my idea, and I’m going to do it. And now we have a plan, and now we know how to do it.


Samantha Bee  07:29

Okay, I want to thank you so much for being here. Okay, so we know this show is called Choice Words. It’s all about the choices, the big choices that we make, the little choices that we make, and I want to talk about some of the big ones that you made. But means something different to everybody. Are you good at making choices? Are you good at making decisions? Are you like, I need someone to I need packing cubes. I need it to be very clear. Or are you amazing at it?


Taylor Tomlinson  07:54

You know, I’ve been thinking about this a lot because I’ve been listening to your podcast. I because I was like, I gotta be prepared here. And I’m so glad that I did, because I feel it helped a lot, and it’s fascinating and so good. So I feel like when I was younger, I was weirdly better at making decisions, because I thought I wasn’t gonna change my mind about anything, like I thought I knew who I was. And then as you get older, I think you realize who you are is like constantly changing and evolving and growing. So now I think I’m actually less confident. That’s not true. I’m not less confident. I’m less confident in making hasty decisions I take much more time to consider all the options. I make more thoughtful choices now.


Samantha Bee  08:47

Well, do you think it’s because, maybe because this, the stakes are a little high. I mean, the stakes are higher.


Taylor Tomlinson  08:54

Oh yeah, stakes are way higher. I’m closer to death. I got less time now.


Samantha Bee  08:58

We’re all just inching closer to death.


Taylor Tomlinson  09:04

Inching every day, trying to think about it.


Samantha Bee  09:07

Gotta get it right before the end. But like, your career is bigger now, so now you have to actually weigh things differently, do you feel that?


Taylor Tomlinson  09:20

Yes, I definitely think since I have become someone who now has a team of people working for me and having more people not entirely relying on just me for their income, but certainly some people are, you know, on my payroll and I pay their salary, that’s like a different level of responsibility that I just didn’t have when I was younger. It was really just to myself and I so that certainly changed things. And, yeah, also, you know, I think the more successful you get, I’m curious if you feel this way, the more successful you get the you know, it’s just, it’s further to fall, right.


Samantha Bee  09:58

Right, yes it is more people, kind of more eyeballs, more people just kind of tuned into your trajectory a little bit with, with for with either good intentions or nefarious intentions.


Taylor Tomlinson  10:13



Samantha Bee  10:13

Just more of everything. Just more of everything. I think one of the most sort of like awkward or difficult transitions that a performer can make is kind of like that moment where your career shifts to becoming very known. So you go from like having making your own choices and kind of like doing your own thing and into when you’re projected on a much larger stage, it’s hard to kind of get used to. Did you feel that in your own life where you had to go, Wait a second? Oh, it’s a little different.


Taylor Tomlinson  10:47

Yeah, I think I’m still getting used to it, honestly, because, you know, my first Netflix special came out a week before covid lockdown. So a lot of people were discovering me while we were all trapped inside. So I hate the only way I knew that my life was changing in any way is that my Instagram followers were going up. But that’s not always a guarantee that people are going to pay money to come out and see you live. So it took months and months for me to get back in front of live audiences and realize that my career was very different, so that was certainly an interesting start. And then, yeah, with doing after midnight, I think because when I agreed to do it, I just thought it sounded fun, and I wanted to work with all the people involved when it was announced, and it was like so many headlines about it, I was taken aback. And I’m probably just very stupid that I didn’t see that coming. But that felt very overwhelming to sort of like, hear from everyone I knew, and even, yeah, in the last six months, you know, being in LA, I think it’s kind of hard to know, especially when you’re mostly just on set or at home or with friends, like going back on the road and having people recognize me out and about, is certainly different and an adjustment. I don’t know how did you adjust? Because I would love some some direction.


Samantha Bee  12:22

Well, I was going to ask you, like, do you have someone, do you have someone in your life? Do you have people in your life? You have a good team around you? I know that you do. I know, you know. I know a lot of people mutually, who I’ve worked with and I love dearly. But do you have, like, a trusted person who’s kind of been on your side of things, kind of just going, like, it’s okay, like, this is gonna it’s gonna bubble up, it’s gonna bubble down, it’s really gonna be okay. Here’s what to do. Here’s what not to do, just sit tight. Do you have like that person in your life, or a variety, or can you do people around you who you can take, like, a little piece from?


Taylor Tomlinson  12:54

I think people have been really nice to me and very generous with their time and advice. I don’t really have anybody that I’m super close to that has maybe experienced that, but, you know, I’ve, I’ve talked to like, Ali Wong and Amy Schumer, and they’ve been, you know, encouraging and sweet and but even that, you’re like, well, you’re on a different level than I am like, that’s like, you know, it’s.


Samantha Bee  13:24

Taylor, I don’t know. I don’t know that that’s true.


Taylor Tomlinson  13:27

I feel like it is. I was like, this is like, silly. Like, I’m like, this is like, God giving Tony Robbins advice. Like, I’m like, not where you’re at like, it’s going well, but it’s not, it’s not like Mount Rushmore of comedy going well, like.


Samantha Bee  13:44

I don’t know, I don’t want to, I don’t want to put this in your head. But I think that everybody in the world watched your special maybe, like every single person on lockdown, everyone was like, well, I’m going to watch this now. And oh, it’s lucky for me that I really love it.


Taylor Tomlinson  13:59

It definitely, I mean, it definitely helped that everybody was locked inside and was like, I’ll watch anything. We will watch anything right now. No, fine, we’ll give it a shot.


Samantha Bee  14:14

We’ll be right back after this.


Samantha Bee  14:52

Can you think of and by the way, sidebar, I offer myself. I’m going to give you my email after, if you have, I just and, you know what’s so funny? Because we’re, we are we’re not in the same space, but kind of in the same space. You’re in that world now, I was in that world, we’re from a similar worlds.


Taylor Tomlinson  16:35

Oh yeah well, that’s so wild to to finally meet you, because I just feel like the press I’ve been doing for the last six months is so much. And I listened to your episode with Chelsea, and I love that you guys talked about the whole like, a woman in late night thing, and how so bizarre, and how you were like, that’s not how I’m thinking about myself. And so I feel like I’ve just been referencing you so much in the last six months where, like, every time someone’s like, you know you’re the only woman in late night currently. And I’m like, yeah, but currently, and I’m like, yeah, but you know, there’s been, there’s been women in late night, like Lily’s saying Amber Ruffin, Samantha Bee, Chelsea, like everyone’s, there’s a lot like, we’re good and or people will, you’re usually one of the first names people bring up if that subject comes up, where they’re like, you know, we know Samantha Bee and Chelsea were really successful in that long running shows, but right now it’s just you.


Samantha Bee  17:25

Taylor, there can only be one at a time. Only the world cannot have accept  two at the same time, and you’re the one now. And so we can only talk to you about that, and you must.


Taylor Tomlinson  17:39

Different, I sort of feel like I got, I was, like, cast on a show, like I came into a project that was a reimagining of another show that had been on Comedy Central and was now being put on a different network and with some of the same people and with some new people, and was being formatted in a different way, but they were looking for a host for something that was already developed. And you know, you guys were in a situation where a show was being created around you, and you were, like, more involved in, like, the DNA of that show.


Samantha Bee  18:17

And we invented the medium, right? We invented it, we invented it, and so let’s just own it. I do feel like you have really made it your own, though, and I’m gonna give you tons of compliments about it, because I do feel like it has your I feel you at the center of it. Do you know what I mean? Like? I don’t, actually, I want to, want to tell you that I don’t feel, I don’t, as a viewer, feel like, oh, it’s just a show you’re in. I feel like it is your show. I really do feel that way. So this is anyways, that’s all I’m saying. That’s all I’m saying. Who do you okay, so when you think, when you look back at your career so far, which, like you have such a long road of beautiful experiences and a wild goddamn roller coaster of the entertainment industry. It’s all like ahead, but when you look back, can you think of choices, a choice that you’ve made that really impacted you, that maybe impacted you in an unexpected way, or you dove into something that you were like, I don’t know.


Taylor Tomlinson  19:24

I mean, can I use not to just keep harping on After Midnight, but can I use after midnight?


Samantha Bee  19:28

Of course, you can. You can use anything. This is yours, your it’s a big it was a big choice, right?


Taylor Tomlinson  19:35

Oh my gosh. Probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, choice of my career. I think the two biggest choices I’ve made were A submitting for an hour special on Netflix, which I can’t even take full credit for my manager, Judy, was the one who was like, we should go for this. I was like, let’s just ask him for half an hour. Let’s not push it. And then, yeah, After Midnight was I. Mean, I thought about whether or not to take this job for months, like, even before they offered it to me, when I was just interviewing for it and, you know, doing, like, a screen test and all that. Like, I really was not sure if I could do it or not for a long time. Because it, it doesn’t prevent me from doing stand up. But it does prevent me from doing as much stand up as I was doing, because I was on the road constantly. I mean, non stop, just, I mean, there were some weeks where I was home like Monday to do laundry, and then I would fly out again on Tuesday and do shows Wednesday through Sunday or Saturday, so I I can’t do that anymore. I’m down to like, you know, Friday, Saturday, and I don’t make my own schedule anymore. Like, I’m kind of waiting for CBS to tell us when we’re going to shoot. And that’s been an adjustment coming from stand up, which was kind of all up to me. So it was a lot to consider before I accepted the job, because I didn’t know if I was going to be good at it. I didn’t know if I was going to like it. I really, truly just every step of the way through the interview process, everyone I met with I just really liked, and I just really wanted to work with them, and I loved touring, and I had sort of my little road family of my tour manager and my best friend who opens for me, and so I felt very supported and social on the weekends, and then I would come back to LA and kind of feel like, Why do I even live here? Like it’s so far, like, maybe I should move to the middle of the country where it’s easier to travel, right?


Samantha Bee  21:49

We should move to a air to a flight hub.


Taylor Tomlinson  21:52

Yes, exactly.


Samantha Bee  21:55

I should move to Cedar Rapids.


Taylor Tomlinson  21:56

Yes., my friend Kelsey moved to Minneapolis. And I’m like, that was so smart, like.


Samantha Bee  22:01

That’s hardcore.


Taylor Tomlinson  22:02

It’s so good for the road and even, like, you know, being in New York, and coming from New York, it’s just easier because you’re gaining time. So I was really, like, struggling with whether or not to even stay in LA before this job. And I thought, well, if I take this job, I’m going to get to be a part of a team. And I think that’ll be probably better for me in the long run, as far as, like, my development as a person. Yeah, I really took it to sort of grow in different ways and sort of diverse, diversify my ego, like covid really showed a lot of us that, I think that you know, if your whole identity was your job and you couldn’t do your job anymore, like we couldn’t as live touring performers, I sort of had not even a moment of panic, months of panic where I was like, oh, who am I if I can’t do stand up? I don’t know if I have anything else. So I really just, I wanted the the social aspect. I wanted the team aspect. I wanted to make something with a group of people every day, like and I I wanted to develop other skills besides just stand up.


Samantha Bee  23:18

Right, so you do all of this background work you do, you’re, like, meeting with them. You’re taking, like, It’s very casual, it’s very casual, until it’s not casual, and they go, actually, we want you for the job. You’re the one, were you like, oh shit, I was just kidding. I was jealous that was a joke. I didn’t even want you even want it.


Taylor Tomlinson  23:39

Well, luckily, by that point, I decided I wanted.


Samantha Bee  23:42

Okay, good.


Taylor Tomlinson  23:43

Well, I did the, I did the screen test the week before, like, maybe five days before, oh, up until the screen test. The screen test was kind of the last thing I needed to see, because it was essentially doing what would have been as close to a show as we could feel like, like, it was, mini fake show. And I did it, and I had a lot of fun, and I liked it, and thought, oh, man, now I think I want it. And five days later, I had it, and as soon as they gave it to me, it was like, off to the races. I mean, it was, you know, two days later it was announced and everywhere. And it was like, you can’t tell anybody you got it. We have to announce it on Colbert. Like, don’t tell anybody for the next two days, so yeah, it wasn’t really like you got the job. Think about it if you want it. It was kind of like I had thought about it for months already and talk to everybody in my life about it, and gone back and forth a million times before I finally settled on it. And even when I started doing the show, it was really overwhelming. I mean, it was a lot of press up front about the show that I hadn’t even done yet, so I was sort of going like, I don’t know yet. I’m not sure what it’s gonna feel like. And then when the show started, it was obviously a learning curve, and I was really sick at the time, and I was sort of like struggling with the fact that I was having health issues, and also I wasn’t doing stand up, because I was focusing on the show. And it was really hard. It’s been really hard, but it’s also been so worth it, and it’s been everything I wanted it to be, and it’s.


Samantha Bee  25:17

That’s great, that’s amazing. Do you feel like you have established then, like, a cadence for yourself that makes sense? Like you’re like, your body is, like a little this is so it’s really weird that I’m saying these is your body center, like, no, but I mean, it takes a little, it’s you’re scrambling. I feel like for the first little while, and at least for me, I was just like clawing at the dirt, just like trying to breathe. You just can’t even, can’t even really experience it, until you can take a breath. Have you taken a, have you taken a breath?


Taylor Tomlinson  25:53

I think I’ve taken a breath.


Samantha Bee  25:55



Taylor Tomlinson  25:56

It’s crazy, because you feel like you’ve gotten the hang of it, and then something changes, or you get notes from the network, or, you know, your schedule changes, and then you’re kind of like, whoa, okay, all right, all right. Well, okay, we’ll get our footing again like there’s been multiple times that I felt like, awesome, cruise control, we got it, and then something changes, and you go, okay, let’s readjust. I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I think I’m still learning how to do it. I mean, everyone I’ve talked to in all of the podcasts I’ve listened to and interviews I’ve watched, people with some sort of late night show have said just what you said, which is, like, it took a while to adjust. I mean, how long do you feel like it took you before you were like, I got it. I know the mode I get into. I can switch into it pretty quickly.


Samantha Bee  26:46

Um, I think that it took a while. I think it maybe took, I think it took two years to get, like, very comfortable. Like, to be very like, okay, okay. Like to know every ingredient in the process. But it took less than, less time than that to get a kind of a rhythm to it. Like, here’s my pre show snack, whatever, do you know what I mean? Like, here’s what I know sets me up for success in this and here’s how I like to come down from this experience. And here’s like, I know that I shouldn’t do two interviews in one day that are big. Like, that was a mistake. I’m my mind exploded. Like, it takes some time to kind of like, feel that out for yourself. So it’s and you and you really have to, I think, but I will say that, like, I don’t know that you ever, really, ever can get so comfortable, because it’s a weird public job. And I think maybe when people get too comfortable in these positions, then quality deteriorates. So I actually think it’s good to be on your toes a little, or on the front of your feet to be like, I don’t know, maybe? We’ll see.


Taylor Tomlinson  28:05

It’s a devastating realization that anxiety is actually really helpful.


Samantha Bee  28:10

It’s so helpful.


Taylor Tomlinson  28:12

Yeah, it comes being productive and high achieving. It’s actually served me pretty well.


Samantha Bee  28:18

Me too. It just feels like shit, but it’s a great adrenaline is so effective and causes your spine to disintegrate over time.


Taylor Tomlinson  28:35

Look at my IMDB page.


Samantha Bee  28:38

You know what is so funny? People have described your comedy as being for everyone, that’s crazy to me. Yes, because you’re so universe, you have, like, a universal ability, your ability to, like, I mean, I’m saying with my family, and we’re all different ages and sexes and you know, but we can all kind of, we’re all getting something from what it is that you’re delivering, I think that’s very it’s pretty unusual quality.


Taylor Tomlinson  29:08

That’s really nice. I mean, look, it’s all very subjective. So I’m sure there’s plenty of people who are like, not for me and I’m everyone. But I think if there’s any degree of that, it probably just comes from starting so young and being a high schooler trying to perform for adults and going, okay, how do I make what I’m talking about something that they are interested in and will laugh at, and isn’t just like watching a child do a performance for their parents after Thanksgiving dinner. You know, I would assume that’s maybe where it comes from is I’m I am a very like personal, more confessional comedian. I guess I’m not really observational, but hopefully it feels more observational, because I start with I’m going through think okay, how are other people going to relate to this? Like, what’s their entry point?


Samantha Bee  30:09

Because it is so personal. Do you ever want to dial back the personal nature of it, or do you are you just so comfortable there?


Taylor Tomlinson  30:17

No, I think I’ve dialed back the personal nature of it a lot in the last two years. I mean, there are jokes that I’m really proud of, that I really like, that I just don’t feel comfortable doing that. I did on tour for a while and out and didn’t make it into the special and, you know, I could do an entire special about certain things in my life that I just it’s just not the time to talk about them, and there are lots of subjects that I plan to get into, and would love to get into, but it’s just not the moment like I talked about losing my mom at a young age in my second special. And some of those were jokes I had written at, you know, 2021 and I just didn’t have the maturity as a performer to pull those off up until that point, so I think there’s something to knowing when subjects are right, I guess right or in the right place to deliver that stuff as well. Because I think part of it is like making the audience comfortable with what you’re talking about. And you can’t really fake that you’re in a good place with something like, I need to go to a lot of therapy to get to a place where I could convince 1000s of people that like, oh, she’s okay. Like, it’s all right.


Samantha Bee  31:35

Right, right, right. Like, do you are you sometimes trying out new material, and you’re like, Oh, you like, you hit almost like a speed bump in your act, where you’re like, I every time we get here, I’m not enjoying this joke.


Taylor Tomlinson  31:49

Maybe not that I’m not enjoying it, but there’s maybe been moments of OOF I feel like I gotta really hit this mark so delicately. My second special had a lot of that material in it where I was like, I really gotta, like, focus and land this like a, like a gymnastics routine. And by the end of that tour, I was really tired and I just wanted to do, like a more fun light hour. And so I think my special that just came out have it all is is much lighter and sillier and more fun and much broader. And then I think the new hour that I’m working on now is sort of going back to being more personal and, okay, a little touchier, but I feel like I have recharged, and I’m in a place to do that again, there are certain things, yeah, that you’re like, Oh, I’m worried about sharing that, so maybe it’s not the time to share that yet.


Samantha Bee  32:45

Right, right? You’re like how can I? You’re like, I’m gonna go out tonight. How am I gonna land this jumbo jet on this dandelion?


Taylor Tomlinson  32:55



Samantha Bee  32:56

Should I, should I do it?


Taylor Tomlinson  32:58

Yes, or, if you feel like audiences are just getting uncomfortable, if they’re more uncomfortable than they are laughing and enjoying it, then you’re not doing your job as an entertainer. You know, if not, if you want to be a heavily touring comedian anyway, you know, not everybody does like if you want to perform for your people in, you know, LA and New York, like, that’s totally fine and like, valid and really possible to do. But if you want to be somebody who can, like, go to our yeah, then right, you got to be somebody who can make it palatable for most people.


Samantha Bee  33:44

Well, that thought more choice words after one more break.


Samantha Bee  33:52

Do you have favorite I guess you can’t say if you have favorite destinations. So the towns where you’re like, I just love doing stand up here, like, are you like, I want to get to Chicago, I feel alive.


Taylor Tomlinson  36:25

I do love Chicago. Chicago is, I mean, they have notoriously great crowds, such a good comedy city. I love Des Moines. Des Moines is great. I just did Madison. Madison’s wonderful. I love DC. That’s where I’m at next. I think DC is incredible. Denver, New York, like, there’s really so many.


Samantha Bee  36:51

Oh, yeah, Denver. Denver’s great for comic great, great audiences. That’s, did you film, you filmed your last special in DC? Right?


Taylor Tomlinson  36:59

Mm, hmm, yeah.


Samantha Bee  37:00

That was a great crowd.


Taylor Tomlinson  37:02

They were great.


Samantha Bee  37:03

And your jacket was awesome.


Taylor Tomlinson  37:05

Oh my gosh, thank you so much. I was afraid it was too confident for me. Didn’t wear it. And sometimes I’m like, maybe it was too confident. It’s a little like, that was my like, I made it jacket. It’s a little like, that whole special I was trying to sort of toe the line of, like, I’m so grateful that I made it, and it’s really cool that I have the career I always wanted. But not sound like I was, like, bragging, or, wait, like you just, but you want to be self aware about it. You can’t go, man, life’s still really hard. Like, no, things are going pretty good. Like, I’m going to talk about the areas of my life that maybe aren’t going as well, but also, let’s acknowledge how well this part is going and be grateful for it, and acknowledge the crowds that are there to see you that made it happen.


Samantha Bee  37:52

Right, I put together a look. Everything is coordinated up here. Everything is intentional.


Taylor Tomlinson  37:59

Yes, I do wish I’d hired a stylist for it, just because now that I have a stylist with the show and everything, oh my god. It’s so nice. It’s I’m terrible at fashion. If I find something that works, I will wear that I wore the same outfit on tour my last tour, just every night, I just bought like, three of them and just cycled them through.


Samantha Bee  38:19

That’s so smart, though. That’s good for packing. It’s great for packing. That’s the secret, just to the same outfit every single night, physically. That’s like, Jackie Onassis, she would just find it, buy it three different ways, different colorways. You just mix and match, these are the tricks.


Taylor Tomlinson  38:41

Also, like, you know, people who come out to see alive. They want you to look like how they think you look.


Samantha Bee  38:49

That is very true. They don’t want to see you dressed in a way that they don’t recognize you. Then they kind of don’t recognize you.


Taylor Tomlinson  38:58

Yeah? They’re like, that’s not my comfort watch.


Samantha Bee  39:00

Yeah, you’re like, why are you when puffy sleeves? What is going on? What happened?


Taylor Tomlinson  39:07

We feel betrayed.


Samantha Bee  39:08

We have been betrayed. They would never say that of the Jimmy’s, there’s so many Jimmy’s, but they never wear puffy sleeves. They never change it up.


Taylor Tomlinson  39:17

When I came into the show, first off, I’m so stupid. I bought my own suits. I was like, I probably need to buy my own suits. And they’re like, You’re adorable. We’re gonna hire a professional.


Samantha Bee  39:26

The cutest.


Taylor Tomlinson  39:29

I was like, I have some. And they’re like, you’re so cute in the garbage.


Samantha Bee  39:35

I went to J Crew, and I got a bunch.


Taylor Tomlinson  39:37

I did I went to I got some. And then I also was like, what if we just got, like, the same suit in six colors, and then I just wore them on a loop, like, who really cares? And they’re like, that’s never gonna happen.


Samantha Bee  39:50

Isn’t that so funny? It actually is. I know that I’m gonna paraphrase, and this is so I hope that this, I hope that she really said this in. I think that she did but, you know, I mean, Amy Poehler, obviously, I read an interview with her once, and this was so, so long ago. It was like her and Tina Fey, and they were like, what’s the thing that is so unexpected about being a performer that you really hate? And they were like, grooming. The fucking grooming is unreal, and it is endless for a woman, and it really is bothersome, do you feel that?


Taylor Tomlinson  40:27

You know, I thought I was really gonna hate getting hair and makeup every day like I remember in December when I was doing all this press, I was like, I just, I’m like, I I’m tired of, I’m like, I’m tired of being made up and perceived. And they were like, you know, you just agreed to a nightly show, right? Like, you know, that’s what you signed up for and I’m like, Oh, that’s right. But now, because I have the same people, you know, fixing my hair and face every day right now, I’m like, oh, the most relaxing part of my day is just hanging out with Deb and Havana like.


Samantha Bee  41:00

Right, love nice people. These lovely people. There’s an incredible amount of, like, styling and all of that stuff. And the men really don’t do it. It’s, it is different. It is very like, the perception is completely different. And I bet there are days where those guys go in and they’re like, do you want just a little powder today? And they’re like, no, thanks. I’m already dressed. They hit the stage, and everyone’s like, amazing.


Taylor Tomlinson  41:28

It’s so much more prep time, and it’s so much more to think about. And even just, like, if there’s an outfit I’m not sure about, I’ll wear it to rehearsal so we can check it on camera, and which is why I was like, let’s just find one that works and just wear that and I love it. I mean, how, how were you with being on camera? I mean, obviously you’ve been on camera for years and years, so maybe, I don’t know that you would even feel like you necessarily, ever felt strange about it, but I, and it’s one of the reasons why I took the job, is I was like, I want to kind of get over myself. And this feels like exposure therapy, where you’re like, look if you don’t think you look great on TV tonight, too bad you’re on tomorrow. You got another shot at it tomorrow, or, like, maybe this week. You weren’t feeling it but it can get sort of overwhelming sometimes, where you’re like, oh my gosh, I have to be on television tonight.


Samantha Bee  42:24

I think that the way that you just phrased it is great, because it is like exposure therapy, like, I think it just over time. You personally, I don’t, I don’t know if this is gonna resonate with you, but I feel like I just personally developed a relationship with a camera lens that is just like, okay, we’re together. So there is a part of, like, who I am, because there’s been so many years of it, that when a camera lens is fixed to me, my body snaps into a. It’s like a It’s like in a memory, in the bones, there’s just a muscle or muscle memory that just kicks in where you’re like, I know how to stand. I know how to face this hole in a machine and treat it like it’s a normal treat it like it’s a person. It’s just a person in my life. It’s just another relationship in my life. So but that developed over time. It is bizarre to relate to a little machine hole doesn’t make any sense, and you’re not really, but you kind of are because you’re learning what your space looks like. And you’re kind of like, learning what your own dimensions are in ways that other people don’t really have to think about. You’re like, you know, here’s something that it’s like, we’re not even doing a podcast now. It’s just like, we’re just.


Taylor Tomlinson  43:46

Like, having so I could just meet you and talk to you and ask this.


Samantha Bee  43:52

I once had a teacher so long ago, like 150 years ago, who was like, what’s your back doing? Where’s your back? And it meant so much to me, and I think about it every time I’m on camera now, I’m like, where is my back? Where’s my back? Because it helps me mentally to feel like a three dimensional person, in front of an audience, in front of a kid, wherever I am, I go feel your back. I’m like, okay, I’m real, I’m whole, there’s a front, there’s a back. We’re a being. I don’t know if that yeah, grounded. It’s just like, it’s like a breath where you just go, okay, we’re doing a job.


Taylor Tomlinson  44:36



Samantha Bee  44:36

We’re doing a job today. We do a job, then we go home and we have an English muffin with avocado on it, and it’s so comforting.


Taylor Tomlinson  44:42

I love that yeah, I I definitely relate to the snapping into it. It does help that there’s a live audience there, because then it does sort of feel like a performance. And just like, stand up. You’re like, that’s fine, and I’ve been on camera enough over the years that I’m like. Like, it’s fine, we got it, and you’re just yourself, which is helpful. But I remember when we started the show, I was so scared to watch it at all, and so I was kind of just like watching bits and pieces. And I still kind of watch bits and pieces, and I noticed that I was like, putting my chin way up, because I think I was scared of, like, not having a jawline or something like, I just have a very round face, so I was sort of like, self conscious about it. So I thought I was helping myself by, like, putting my chin way up, and it looks crazy. I’m still actively working on, kind of, like, put your chin down, look normal. And even, like, my head kind of bobbing around, I had to, like, go look at other people doing monologs and stuff. Because I’m like, is everybody’s head kind of doing that? And I’m like, Okay, so some people’s heads are doing that, like, even just those types of things, because you’re, you know, I’m reading a teleprompter, so I’m not thinking about how I look as much or like what my movements are, because stand up, it’s so by the time you film a special, it’s so deep in your bones that you could go on autopilot and just float above your body and watch your own show, right? But this is like, so different every night. And I’m sort of trying to remember from rehearsal and from read through, like, what the beats of this was, but I’ve only said it three times, right? So it’s completely different. And so to have just a few things in my head to remember, like, Okay, keep your chin down. Don’t swivel your head like crazy. Don’t lean on the podium too much. Like I was also, like, doing a thing where my shoulders were, like, up by my ears. Like, stuff you wouldn’t know unless you watched it, but then watching yourself as a nightmare, and you just have to get over it. Like, I’ve learned that the first time I watch myself, I’m gonna be like, that looks horrendous, and the next day I’ll be like, you look fine.


Samantha Bee  47:04

Yeah, it’s totally fine. Yeah, it’s like, again, that’s like exposure therapy too. Just like being forced to watch yourself is a torture. It is a torture, and you are so judgmental about yourself. And we used to sit early days when I worked at The Daily Show, we would sit in the edit bay the whole time that our stuff was getting edited and watch every single take, every single take. I did it on purpose. I don’t think it was like required. I just did it and it was the most it was so chilling. But I did get to know my tricks and like the tricks that I was trying that don’t work, like those little idiosyncrasies just kind of like worked them out of the system a bit. But it is exposure. It’s like I want to I’m so think of, as you said, that my my mother in law, who is Bev, who is definitely listening to this, and I love her, does whenever a family picture, when everyone’s like, let’s take a picture. I have to show you, because we’re looking at each other. The listening audience can’t hear this, but she does every time. If you’re like, Bev, let’s take a picture. She goes like this, and like, fully turtles, her neck, like her tortoise, her neck goes into her shell, and double chin, double triple chins, and her chin goes all the way back, and she has no idea. And we’re like, don’t we’re like, don’t just don’t do anything. Don’t do anything with your neck. And she’s like, I am not. It’s just moving into so we all do that stuff.


Taylor Tomlinson  48:49

Yeah, and so many people don’t have to think about it. They don’t have to constantly, like, No, my best friend, when she got into law school, like, deleted her social media, and was like, I don’t really need this anymore. Like, I used it a lot in college and undergrad, and, like, you know, had fun, but I don’t need to do this. I’m tired of taking pictures. And she’s just free.


Samantha Bee  49:14

Healthy, yeah, she takes her and that’s what, it’s crazy. She’s the only one who looks at them and her friends.


Taylor Tomlinson  49:25

Genuine memories.


Samantha Bee  49:29

Don’t even know what that means.


Taylor Tomlinson  49:31

Neither do I.


Samantha Bee  49:33

Dare I’m so jealous. I’m gonna go to law school. I want to go to law school. I’m not equipped. I’m not gonna pass. Do you think that, like I what I also love about after midnight is that I feel like it’s just such a like, what a treat that it platforms comedians, like that must be a huge factor for you. You must be working with your friends, people you. Know people you’ve gotten out with?


Taylor Tomlinson  50:02

Yeah, we shot with Kelsey Cook, Brian Simpson and Blair Saki, and those are people I’ve known for years. And like, Brian and I started together in San Diego, and Kelsey and I used to do a podcast together for years, and like, I was looking forward to that show for weeks. And there are so many shows like that, especially now that we’re getting some repeat guests on right where you have, you know, some established chemistry with them and between the three panelists, like it is, and now people can go watch the show and, like, sort of know what to expect, and know that it’s weird and goofy and silly, so they have some context before going in. I mean, it’s so fun, and it’s it’s so rare that stand ups get a chance to improvise and play around with each other, I mean, I’ve laughed so hard on this show, like harder than I have in years on this show, and some of the bits that these people have done. And it really is, like, such a gift. And it is another reason I was so excited to do it is when you’re on tour on your own, sort of your own planet, like you just don’t see other comedians very much. And so it’s, yeah, it’s a joy, it really is.


Samantha Bee  51:21

I feel like when at midnight went away, it was a loss. It was a loss to the comedy community. It really was. It really was. So it’s like, it’s awesome to bring it back, and it feels like it was refreshed and is right for right now, do you feel?


Taylor Tomlinson  51:38

Yeah, I think so. I mean, you know, Tiktok wasn’t a thing back then. So, so much of our show is videos from Tiktok, you know, like they, I think the old show was pretty Twitter heavy, and there just weren’t the same social media platforms, right? You know, popular. I mean, Vine is gone now, like, and it’s twice as long, like, we’re doing an hour long show, as opposed to half an hour. And obviously, you know, we probably have more restrictions, I would guess, around, like, language, etc, because it’s CBS as opposed to Comedy Central, I’ve been surprised at what they let us get away with honestly.


Samantha Bee  52:20

That’s nice, do you have a crazy S P notes? Our S P notes were so crazy at Full Frontal they were like, no. They were like, the moment where you show the elephant’s vagina giving birth, we can’t show the baby elephant crowning. That’s not that violates our standards and practices.


Taylor Tomlinson  52:42

It’s the one I always think of, that’s planet Earth.


Samantha Bee  52:44

That’s Earth, that’s joy, that’s nature.


Taylor Tomlinson  52:47

That miracle of life.


Samantha Bee  52:49

I know we’re just watching miracles happen, and you’re denying people.


Taylor Tomlinson  52:56

Yeah, I can’t, I can’t think of any notes that we got that I was like, really? But I know that there were times that I was surprised. I think we kept it we might have, we probably bleeped it, maybe we didn’t. I know, at one point there was a panel where they essentially started chanting the word taint. And I thought, well, that’s never gonna get in. And then it did.


Samantha Bee  53:19

It did.


Taylor Tomlinson  53:20

It did.


Samantha Bee  53:21

Way to go CBS, you did it, you crazy.


Taylor Tomlinson  53:24

I know, I know who knows.


Samantha Bee  53:26

Taints, taints all the way down, I love it. Taylor, I have enjoyed our conversation so thoroughly, and I thank you for saying yes, and thank you for like your work. And I feel like it’s like, so exciting to watch you just ascend.


Taylor Tomlinson  53:47

Oh my gosh. This was awesome, so lovely. I truly looking forward to it so much I was thrilled.


Samantha Bee  54:00

Well, that was Taylor Tomlinson, and I had no choice but to look up one thing Taylor talked about the choice to initially pitch a stand up special to Netflix, which got me thinking, what was the very first Netflix comedy special? Well, it was Aziz Ansari’s 2013 buried alive. Netflix was just six years old, thank you for joining us. I’m Samantha Bee, see you next week for some more Choice Words.


CREDITS  54:39

Thank you for listening to Choice Words, which was created by and is hosted by me. The show is produced by […], with editing and additional producing by Josh Richmond. We are distributed by Lemonada Media, and you can find me @realsambee on Instagram and X, follow Choice Words wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

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