COAST CITIES — Following perhaps the “stupidest advice” he ever heard, Taylor Williamson dropped out of college four years ago to become a professional comedian. While he doesn’t recommend others take his career path, the decision seems to have paid off for the Del Mar native.
Williamson has since performed in comedy clubs across the country and in Canada, appeared on the “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and just missed being named a top-10 finalist on the most recent season of “Last Comic Standing.”
“The decision to not put the brilliantly awkward Williamson through is a tragedy worse than anything written by Shakespeare,” one critic wrote on Examiner.com.
Williamson became interested in comedy after taking a workshop at the La Jolla Comedy Club during his senior year at Torrey Pines High School. But unlike many students who try to earn a laugh from their peers, he didn’t spend a lot of time in the principal’s office for being disruptive.
“I was only the class clown when it was appropriate,” Williamson said. “I would wait until I could do something witty and wouldn’t get in trouble.”
Following his graduation in 2004, Williamson continued performing while attending Cal State Northridge for two years.
“A professional said to me, ‘You’re 20 years old and paying your bills doing what you love. Why stay in school?’” Williamson said. “When I look back, that’s probably the stupidest advice I’ve ever heard, but I wasn’t focusing on school.”
Williamson took his act on the road with bookings in top entertainment cities such as Las Vegas and a year later moved to New York.
“That was amazing,” he said. “I wanted to go someplace where I could have my career and a new life experience. It was great.”
But seeing more opportunities in Los Angeles, he returned to the West Coast last year. Once again, the move paid off as Williamson landed a coveted spot on “Last Comic Standing,” an experience he describes as “the most amazing thing” he’s ever done.
“I was on national TV with some of my favorite comedians, the judges, saying, ‘You’re funny,’” he said. “That was really cool.”
Of course, in the entertainment business, everyone in the audience isn’t always a fan. But Williamson tries not to take the criticism too personally.
“I’m proud of what I do,” he said. “If someone criticizes it, that’s their opinion.”
Williamson isn’t bothered much by a few negative comments following a TV performance or podcast especially because there’s no other audience response. “But I’m still vulnerable,” he said. “I want people to come and see my style and see what I have to offer.”
When asked to describe his comedy, Williamson said, “It’s amazing. It’s the best in the world.”
On a rare and serious note, he described his style as “absurd, ridiculous and silly” with a tendency toward “irony and sarcasm.”
Williamson recently performed for a hometown crowd during a Nov. 27 show at Carlsbad Village Theatre with another North County native, Carlsbad High alumnus Matt Balaker.
Also onstage was Lamont Ferguson, creator of West Coast Funnies, a monthly comedy show at the historic downtown venue on State Street. Ferguson also produces a stand-up show twice a month at Joey’s Smokin’ BBQ in La Costa.
Williamson, who encourages people to support local comedy, is now beginning to focus on acting and would eventually like to write and direct movies. His other goal is to not perform outside, as he once did, on a college campus where “the crickets were louder than the crowd.”
Given the advice that kick-started his success, he shouldn’t be surprised if that offer is never again extended.