Taylor Tomlinson wears a black shirt under a white jacket and holds a bunny up to her hair.

Taylor Tomlinson Earns It

The stand-up’s got a new special — and a new job.

17 April 20246 min read

“I’ve never really had a job job,” says Taylor Tomlinson. It’s a funny predicament for one of the hardest-working comedians out there, whose new special, Taylor Tomlinson: Have It All, is premised on just how well her career is going. 

Tomlinson’s been featured on the TIME 100 Next List and Forbes’s Hollywood & Entertainment 30 under 30. She’s built a TikTok following 2.6 million strong and presented at the Emmy Awards with Stephen Colbert. Her third special Have It All caps off one of the most successful comedy tours in the world, and now she’s reflecting on a whole month of regular employment — sort of. The 30-year-old’s brand new “job job” is one of late-night host.

CBS’s After Midnight draws on Tomlinson’s quick-on-her-feet showmanship, but it’s still a learning experience: “I’ve been doing stand-up for 14 years, so I’m very comfortable in that space,” she tells Queue. “I think it’s good for me creatively to challenge myself and expand as a performer.” 

After Midnight tapes three days a week, fulfilling Tomlinson’s desire for community and consistency while leaving plenty of room for stand-up. “Part of the reason I wanted to do this is because when I came home from the road, I didn’t really have any structure in L.A.,” she explains. Last year, Have It All was among the top 10 highest-grossing comedy tours in the world. Tomlinson sold nearly 300,000 tickets and played more dates than any other comedian on that list. She was also the only woman, just like she’s the only woman currently hosting late-night TV. It’s all the more remarkable considering her first theater tour was just two years ago. “I love performing in clubs, but they are different,” she says of adjusting her sets to a new scale. “Some of the theaters we perform in are where people see the symphony. There’s an organ onstage behind you and you’re like . . . we’re doing dick jokes.”

The dick jokes weren’t always part of the repertoire. Tomlinson grew up in a devout religious household in Temecula, California. She started performing on the Christian circuit at 16, then moved on to everything from cruise ships to opening for Conan O’Brien. By the time she arrived at her first Netflix special, 2020’s Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis, she’d mastered a style that balances big-tent relatability (friends, dating, growing pains) with the deeply personal. Her sophomore special, 2022’s Taylor Tomlinson: Look at You, centers on mental health and the death of her mother at age 34, when Tomlinson was just eight. “Do you think I’d be this successful at my age if I had a live mom?” she asks her audience, hinting at what she’s said flat-out elsewhere: that a fear of dying young fueled her career. 

Tomlinson wanted Have It All, directed by Kristian Mercado and taped in the Washington, D.C. area, to be “lighter, more fun, like Quarter-Life was.” Still, she says, “I always write from a really personal place just because that’s the only way I know how to write.” She may have her dream job(s), but as for marriage, kids, and an anxiety-free brain that doesn’t tell her she probably swallowed an AirPod in her sleep? “This hour of material that I’m doing right now, this is not a bit” she confesses to the crowd. “I am genuinely concerned.” 

Tomlinson spent December editing Have It All, which she taped while she was sick with mono. “I had total control over pretty much every camera angle and cut,” she explains. “But I know where I was physically and emotionally when I filmed that special. Other people don’t know, so you just have to get out of your own head and get out of your own way.” 

Being sick forced her to slow down, but Tomlinson found solace in another project: drafting screenplays with her writing partner, Taylor Tetreau. “It was a lifesaver because I just didn’t have the energy to do anything else,” she says. “I would wake up at noon, write with her for a couple hours, maybe go for a short walk if I could, and then be back in bed at four.” 

As ever, Tomlinson continues to work on new stand-up. “I’m lucky enough now that when I want to work on material, I can book a weekend of club shows and people will sell them out,” she says. “That has allowed me a lot of freedom to take chances onstage.”

Like she quips at the beginning of her special, “Nobody wants anybody to have it all.” But the lasting impression you get from Tomlinson is that she’s grateful for what she’s got — even if it’s her job to make a joke out of it.