Taylor Tomlinson Looked for Reasons Not to Do ‘After Midnight’

Tomlinson says she never saw herself becoming one of the youngest late-night hosts in TV history
Taylor Tomlinson Looked for Reasons Not to Do ‘After Midnight’

Most young, aspiring stand-up comedians couldn’t imagine themselves becoming the host of a CBS late-night show at just 30 years old in their wildest dreams. Taylor Tomlinson couldn’t come up with a good enough reason not to.

We’re now 63 episodes into Tomlinson’s tenure at the helm of the late-night comedy panel game show After Midnight, and the seasoned stand-up is struggling to come up with new career goals to crush well ahead of schedule. Tomlinson began performing stand-up at 16 before quickly establishing herself as one of the industry’s fastest-rising comics in her early 20s following a top-10 finish on Last Comic Standing at just 21. As Tomlinson spent the rest of her 20s touring the world and shooting Netflix specials, she started to run out of benchmarks by which comedians traditionally measure their success — until executive producer Stephen Colbert and CBS called to cross off one of the rarest achievements on any comedy bucket list: late-night host.

However, as Tomlinson told The Los Angeles Times in a recent interview, she initially attempted to balk at the opportunity to lead the reboot of Comedy Central’s @midnight, admitting, “I was looking for reasons to not do it.” 

I guess “I don’t know a single person my age who still watches late-night” wasn’t good enough.

“When I was 20, I thought I was going to be married (by 30),” Tomlinson said of her meteoric rise that saw her become the replacement for James Corden and The Late Late Show at an age when so many of her peers are still struggling with student loans. “I would maybe be getting ready to have kids. I thought that if I could tour theaters in my 30s, that would be incredible. The fact that I was able to do that in my mid-20s, now I don’t even know if I ever want to get married or have kids.”

As it turns out, the work-life balance of hosting a nightly comedy panel show centered around internet culture was less of a concern for Tomlinson than the danger that her day job would distract from stand-up gigs, but, after learning that After Midnight would only require her services from Monday to Wednesday, she quickly warmed on the offer. “I was really surprised that I wanted to do this job,” Tomlin said of her change of heart. “But I was feeling some loneliness — not on the road. On the road, I had my tour manager, my best friend opening for me; I had what I felt like was a team. But then I would come home to L.A. and feel like I was floating, to the point where I was like, ‘Should I not live in L.A.?’”

Thankfully, Tomlinson has found that human connection in her comic guests, from Maria Bamford to Tig Notaro to this week’s Jack McBrayer, whom Tomlinson enjoys showcasing in the panel structure of After Midnight. “My goal is not for me to be the funniest person up there,” Tomlinson explained. “If I’m funny, that’s a bonus, but my job is to make (my guests) as funny as possible, set them up as well as I can and make it a great experience for them.”

However, Tomlinson admitted that there are added drawbacks to late-night hosting compared to her stand-up career “because there’s a lot more people counting on me and there’s a lot more people to disappoint.” 

That said, after the crap that Corden shoveled into the time slot for nine years, Tomlinson’s show doesn’t have to clear that high of a bar to avoid disappointment.


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