Taylor Tomlinson

On this date in 1993, comedian Taylor Elyse Tomlinson was born in Orange, Calif., to Angela and Eric Tomlinson, the eldest of their four daughters. “She grew up in an intensely Christian conservative family in Temecula, California — the kind that forbids kids from seeing Harry Potter movies because the Dementors were too close to biblical devils. Taylor was 8 when her mother died [of cancer], and her faith in the Lord began to wane.” (Vulture, March 9, 2022)

Her dad convinced her as a bonding activity to sign up with him for a six-week, stand-up comedy workshop at their church when she was 16. She turned out to be a natural. “I told her dad, ‘Listen, this young lady has a career,’ says Nazareth (whose full name, he insists, is Nazareth). After that first course, she signed up for another one, and by the end of it, Nazareth had asked her to start opening for him — mostly church crowds, some of them numbering in the thousands. (Ibid.)

Tomlinson briefly attended Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo before transferring to Cal State-San Marcos before dropping out to pursue comedy full time. She was named a top 10 finalist on the ninth season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 2015 and performed a 15-minute set on the Netflix series “The Comedy Lineup” in 2018. Her first Netflix special, “Quarter-Life Crisis,” premiered in 2020. Her second, “Look At You,” premiered in 2022.

At the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in 2022, she was chosen Breakout Comedy Star of the Year. Soon after that, Village Roadshow Pictures announced acquisition of the rights to an untitled movie based partially on Tomlinson’s life. Paul Weitz, fresh off directing Kevin Hart in “Fatherhood,” signed to direct the film from a script co-written by Tomlinson.

That she “worked clean” for six years due to her mostly Christian audiences was good training, said Tomlinson, recalling the joke that led to her expulsion from that circuit. She tweeted that she was “very sexually conservative. Not that I’m bad at sex, I’ll have you know in bed I am a wild animal — way more afraid of you than you are of me.” She’d long felt boxed in anyway by limits placed on her material. 

Suffering long-term from depression, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “Growing up [in a shame-based religious culture], you do become such a people pleaser because all of your self-worth is derived from being, like, a good kid, and being somebody God’s going to be proud of. I am still uncomfortable with it, and I am so, so scared of disappointing people, and I’m so scared of people disapproving of me,” she said. (L.A. Times, March 4, 2022)

Tomlinson was in a relationship with comedian Sam Morril from March 2020 to February 2022, when they called off their engagement. As of this writing in 2023, she is estranged from her father and stepmother. “They would not be a fan of mine if I wasn’t their daughter either. It’s just not their bag. … It was hard to get to that place and accept that not everybody was going to love that and get over my own internalized guilt and shame about not being, like, a good Christian. Not being Christian at all, really.” (E! News, May 5, 2022) 

Freedom From Religion Foundation