November 4

There are 3 entries for this date: Maud Ingersoll Kathy Griffin Taylor Tomlinson

    Maud Ingersoll

    Maud Ingersoll

    On this date in 1864, Maud Ingersoll was born in Peoria, Illinois, second daughter of “The Great Agnostic” Robert G. Ingersoll and Eva Parker Ingersoll. Maud, like her older sister, Eva, was given the middle name “Robert.” With Eva, Maud received instruction at home by her parents with extra tutoring in German, French, Italian, music and art. Both girls read before the age of 6, although not pushed into formal education.

    As teenagers, they sometimes helped their father research the bible and religious writings for his lectures. “Father had read with us and together we have looked up references, localities and proofs,” Eva once wrote, adding that the more they came to be acquainted with Christianity, the less they liked it.

    Maud became Ingersoll’s special attendant, accompanying him on lecture tours. She once stayed in the courtroom throughout a protracted, six-week trial involving a charge of forgery over a will in Butte, Montana. After Ingersoll’s death she continued to refute spurious claims, which she was accused of circulating, that her father had recanted: “At the time of his death — in fact, the very morning of his death — he was working on a new lecture on Jesus Christ to be delivered the next winter and in which he intended saying that Christ was a myth,” Maud reported. (D. 1936)

    “I wish to say emphatically that there isn’t a word of truth in this statement. Neither my sister nor myself is connected with any church in any way. Although our father has always wished for us to study and think for ourselves, we agree with him heartily in his religious belief.”

    — Ingersoll, denying her religious conversion in a slander put forth by Rev. W. W. Landrum, First Baptist Church of Atlanta (1883)
    © Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

    Kathy Griffin

    Kathy Griffin

    On this date in 1960, comedian Kathleen Mary Griffin was born in Oak Park, Ill. When Griffin was 18, she chose not to attend college and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in show business, where she launched her career in stand-up and improv comedy. She gained celebrity with her television show “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” a raunchy reality show that earned two Emmy Awards. Her autobiography, Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin (2010), was a New York Times best-seller and several of her comedy albums have received Grammy nominations. She has also had roles in many movies and television shows.

    Griffin is an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, AIDS awareness and various other social and political causes. She frequently criticizes organized religion, and although she grew up Catholic to Irish immigrant parents, she has broken away from the church. In a June 2007 interview with OutSmart magazine, she described herself as a “militant atheist.”

    Christian groups and others heavily criticized her for her Emmy acceptance speech in 2007, where she said, “A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. He didn’t help me a bit. If it was up to him, Cesar Millan would be up here with that damn dog. So all I can say is suck it, Jesus, this award is my God now.” She tried to explain it away by saying she was only criticizing award winners for giving credit to a higher power for their own achievements. She has had several other incidents since in which she has been criticized for statements that many people saw as offensive.

    Griffin’s “Laugh Your Head Off” worldwide comedy tour drew crowds in 2017-18. She was the first female comedian to have a comedy album debut at number one on the Billboard Top Comedy Album chart. She was married to Matt Moline from 2001-06.

    “I can criticize your religion all I want, and you can criticize mine. I don’t like this whole climate of, ‘You can’t ever say anything bad about the group I’m in, cause every group is untouchable.’ We can all criticize each other and engage in debate all we want.”

    — Griffin on an episode of the syndicated radio show “Loveline” (Sept. 30, 2002)
    Compiled by Sarah Eucalano
    © Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

    Taylor Tomlinson

    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) 

    “So much of religion is like, ‘Well if you were praying about it, if you were good with God, that would fix everything.’ “

    — Interview, E! News (May 5, 2022)
    Compiled by Bill Dunn
    © Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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