Watching Taylor Tomlinson: Have It All took me three years back, on a winter day. I was at a friend’s place for a lunch sort of thing. It was a school friend. I used to be part of a very close-knit group, with him and some others. I have actually had some of the best times of my life with these people. However, as time flew by, I sort of moved away from this group. That was the time I was actually trying to mend the fences by being available for their birthdays, parties, events, etc. I thought my life would lose meaning if I didn’t cling on to these friends. Coming back to that afternoon again, we were all hanging out after stuffing ourselves with so much food. A conversation was going on around me about marriage, taxes, babies, and houses. Sure, there were other topics, but these four were certainly dominant. And I found myself feeling like an alien. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a partner back then. But everything still felt like things about which I wouldn’t bother to think. I have no shame in admitting that I actually had a friend who would text me something, and I would use that as an emergency excuse to get out. This is a friend I met on Facebook. We still hang out and have so much fun drinking together. And by the way, I am now out of that old group.
I’m not here to tell the story of how I broke up with those friends or how they broke up with me. This is supposed to be a review of Tomlinson’s standup. But I couldn’t help but kick things off by getting personal. Tomlinson’s latest special felt extremely relatable from start to finish. Watching it felt like someone was basically speaking my mind for an hour and being funny. The “being funny” part is something I consider a real talent that I don’t possess. At least I certainly can’t be as funny as Tomlinson. That’s not particularly surprising given she’s the one on the stage, and I am basically writing about what she talked about.
The fundamental thing about a good standup is that you’ve got to be either funny, relevant, or engaging. Most good stand-ups are actually all three of those, and so is Taylor. This is my first time seeing her standup, and I’m already a fan. In fact, it took me all of about five minutes to become one because she starts with one of the purest forms of humor—self-trolling. Taylor makes a grand entry on stage, then she explains how embarrassed she is about doing that, but she went ahead because a lot of “men” put their hard work behind the arrangements. The funniest bit here has to be comparing the whole thing with the Jonas brothers.
And then Taylor keeps bringing up familiar things, like the never-ending tussle between married and single people and how married people are always jealous of their single friends. Or how human beings are usually against someone having everything great in life, even if it is someone they genuinely care about. Taylor candidly talks about how her friends used to be extremely supportive during her previous breakups but not so much during the recent one, now that she has a cushy contract with Netflix. Taylor quickly moves on to what she has done with the money she got from Netflix, and while it’s as ludicrous as spending a whopping seven grand on a pair of gloves that Hugh Jackman wore during a stage show, it is not particularly hard to believe either. Because by this time, she has established her vibe—dark, sad, strange, but still funny. She checks all these boxes in my opinion, and you will agree when you watch the thing.
It’s very commendable how fluidly Taylor slips between different topics while not losing momentum for a single second. One moment, she’s talking about making your parents meet your boyfriend for the first time; and then she’s ranting about sleep trouble, which is obviously a recurring problem for most of us. My favorite moment in the entire stand-up actually comes during this sleep trouble talk, where Taylor goes interactive—something she claims to do in every show—and seeks advice from the audience members. The advice has to be something that she has never heard before, so nothing like meditation, yoga, lavender, or keeping your phone in a different room. When nobody comes up with a worthy one, Taylor does share the best one she has come across yet. Lying on the kitchen floor for a while before going to bed to sleep, which is basically abusing yourself to sleep.
Taylor interacts with her audience one more time when she starts speaking about sex education and asks people about whether or not they have ever received it. If they did, at what age did that happen? is what she asked. And she’s genuinely surprised and happy when someone tells the story about receiving the “talk” at the age of nine from their mother in a garden. Taylor immediately acknowledges the wholesomeness of the thing before telling a story of reverse sex education where she had to give the talk to her father after he asked her if she knew about the thing that adults do.
For a standup that bravely deals with issues like anxiety, bad parenting, traumas of all kinds, relationship problems, and sleep trouble, the ending of Taylor Tomlinson: Have It All is surprisingly wholesome. And that could only happen because Taylor made it a point to share the story of her best friend Christine calling her, talking to her for a good fifteen minutes to make sure she’s okay, before breaking the news of her own engagement. Taylor is extremely lucky to have such a friend who cares so much about the mental health of their best friend, which she acknowledges. Not to mention Taylor talking about sending a selfie to Christine with her audience behind her just before the show, which is adorably cute. All we need to survive this life is a good laugh and a friend like that, I suppose.