Wild Card with Rachel Martin: NPR

Wild Card with Rachel Martin: NPR, Taylor Tomlinson says she admires how hopeful her teenage self was.

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Taylor Tomlinson says she admires how hopeful her teenage self was.

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A comment from Wild card host Rachel Martin: When I watch stand-up comedy, there’s usually a safe layer of removal. The situations they describe or the stories they tell happened to someone else. I don’t recognize it, but I understand why it’s funny.

When I first saw Taylor Tomlinson, I laughed in a way that only happens when you’ve experienced the joke, but you couldn’t see the funny part. And as Tomlinson points out, it’s a special kind of hilarity with a good dose of perspective. This is a long-winded way of saying that Tomlinson makes me feel seen.

Conservative Christian education? Bill. Dead mother. Bill? Bad dating history? Bill. Hosting some kind of fake game show? Bill. Did you go to the ER because you thought you swallowed an air capsule – or in my case, a nose ring? Bill.

How could I not Invite Tomlinson to play our game? Her latest Netflix special is called Have it all. (Side note: This trailer below contains a curse word.)

Taylor Tomlinson’s trailer Have it all special.

YouTube

This Wild Card interview has been edited for length and clarity. Host Rachel Martin asks guests randomly selected questions from a deck of cards. Tap play above to listen to the full podcast, or read an excerpt below.

Question 1: What do you admire about your teenage self?

Taylor Tomlinson: I admire how hopeful she was. I think she really believed in her future. At the time, I was really unhappy and really struggling with depression, anxiety and a whole host of other things, but my head felt like a really safe place to go. It felt like my imagination was very rich and fulfilling and I felt very hopeful about the future – and therefore excited and inspired. That’s something I’ve really been trying to get back to about myself lately.

Rachel Martin: Just trust and setting high expectations? Don’t you let other people limit them?

Tomlinson: Not even faith, I think just hope – maybe a little delusional too. I think as an adult you sometimes feel like you’re bogged down by everything. It’s easy to feel sad, hopeless, and scared. And I think as a child you’re obviously more naive, but I think being naive can be a good thing.

Question 2: Which emotion do you understand better than all the others?

Tomlinson: I think I’m a very anxious person at my core and have learned to get comfortable with a kind of constant fear, which is what anxiety is: it’s a constant buzz of anxiety.

Martin: Has getting up on stage made you fearless? Because it’s so scary for the rest of us citizens to think about making ourselves vulnerable in that way. It seems very scary to do what you do.

Tomlinson: It is. It’s very scary. But I think you get used to it. And I was so afraid of how I would feel if I didn’t do it, that I think that helped me get through the stage fright. I was afraid that years later I would say, “Man, I really wish I had pursued that.” Or “I wish I had done more with this potential I had.”

When people remind me how scared they would be to perform in front of thousands of people, it helps me to do other things wherever I go: “Why am I afraid to talk to someone in the supermarket when I’m with 3,000 people last night,” you know?

Question 3: How do you stay connected to people you’ve lost?

Tomlinson: You and I are both in the dead mom club, as they call it. I think you just talk about it and ask people who knew them longer than you for stories. And if you’re that creative, write about those people and discover ways you’re like them or different from them, or even what they might think about movies and TV shows that are coming out.

For example, I think my mom would have really liked Substack [laughs]. I remember talking to my grandma once and we thought, she’d probably have a blog, right? Even things like that.

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Tomlinson says that in some ways she feels like she is living out her mother’s unrealized potential.

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix

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Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix

Martin: What do you have in common with your mother? You were young when she died, but what do people tell you about how she appears in you?

Tomlinson: She loved writing and I think I have that. I have three siblings and two of us look like my father and the middle two look more like our mother. And I was always so jealous that I didn’t look like my mother.

Martin: Me, too. My mother was the pretty one in the family – between her and my father. I also have my father’s appearance.

Tomlinson: Not to hurt our father’s feelings, I’m sure both our fathers are handsome too, but I always wanted to have more in common with her. But you know, she was outgoing and I’m not outgoing. She was very charismatic, smart and funny, and I didn’t feel like I had any of those things.

And because she died so young – she died when she was 34, and she had been sick for the last two years and she had very young children – so when she died, I thought, ‘Wow, what a waste. such a wonderful person who was taken way too soon, with all the talent and creativity that I still have.” And so that’s probably a big reason why I’ve tried to stretch those leftovers as far as possible and that too was able to do, you know, with the help of Netflix.

But I had a moment, maybe a year ago, where I was like, man, I’ve really pushed the pieces of her to the limit, because in some ways I feel like I’m the unrealized potential that she didn’t get. to realize what is so sad.

Martin: What was your mother’s name?

Tomlinson: Angela.

Martin: I think Angela would love Substack and definitely Taylor Tomlinson.

Tomlinson: I hope so. Maybe she’d say, “You’re some kind of hack.” [laughs]

Martin: She would be like a troublemaker at all your shows. [laughs]

Tomlinson: She says, “I don’t understand.” [laughs]

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