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Taylor Williamson has talent ... just ask America

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TaylorWilliamsonHeadshotComedian Taylor Williamson nearly won “America’s Got Talent” last season, but people are making more of a fuss about his mother.

In the heat of competition on the NBC reality show one night, judge Howie Mandel pointed out that  Williamson’s mother, Suzanne, was in the audience. The camera panned out to her, and host Nick Cannon blurted out, “Whoa, your mom’s hot.”

Now wherever Williamson goes, fans congratulate him for finishing second — losing to a freakishly talented dancer from Japan — and then proceed to tell him, you know, how hot his mom is.

“It happens all the time. They even remember her name,” the Del Mar, Calif., native says. “Wait a minute, why do you know my mom’s beautiful? I’m like, ‘Stop looking at my mother!’ It’s really creeping me out.”

He takes the rest of his newfound fame in stride. The 27-year-old Los Angeles resident (“I moved there because I don’t want to live with my mom anymore”) is making his first appearance at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre this weekend.

With him he’ll bring his brand of geeky, self-effacing humor — the stuff that won over “America’s Got Talent” judges Mandel, Howard Stern, Melanie Brown and Heidi Klum. That he’s here at all is a testament to his perseverance.

“This has been a 10-year struggle,” Williamson said. “I’ve been doing stand-up comedy since I was in high school. But things got horrible; I was rejected by everyone. Heck, I wasn’t even nominated as the funniest in my class at Torrey Pines High.

“I was never going to quit doing stand-up, but I knew I had to get a day job because I had negative money. I’m hoping my mom forgets that I owe her money.”

So, he thought, why not go for broke and audition for “America’s Got Talent”?

“When you’re in a spot like that, where you really have no career, you almost get fearless,” he said. “I just had to go for it. What’s the worst that could happen, that Howard Stern would hate me? That I would be humiliated on national television? Oh, that’s all.”

The experience was electrifying and terrifying all at the same time.

“First off, it’s not a comedy show, it’s a variety show, and I’m a stand-up comic,” Williamson said. “During the taping of these shows, the judges end up sitting there for four hours watching and listening to this parade of talented and sometimes untalented people.

“So, before I even stepped onto the stage, I had everything going against me.”

His worries quickly faded when Stern (the “King of All Media”) and Mandel, whose career in stand-up started in 1978, loved his one-liners and banter ... like “I’m not gay ... Sorry, ladies” or “I thought you’d like that joke, Heidi, you like animals right? You were once married to a seal.”

“Having two legends like that be extremely complimentary was everything an awkward, skinny, Jewish guy who says weird things into a microphone could ask for.”

He didn’t win the $1 million prize and a Vegas show — it went to performance-art dancer Kenichi Ebina — but he got to tour with other “America’s Got Talent” finalists for two months.

“It was so much fun,” he said. “We were playing to thousands of people every night in amazing venues. People want to see me now, it’s the weirdest thing ever.”

What does the future hold?

He wants to do his own comedy special, preferably on Comedy Central.

Mandel predicts bigger things: “... somebody’s going to try to cast him in a sitcom or put him in a movie.”

TAYLOR WILLIAMSON
7 and 9:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Dec. 6-7); PG-13 show, 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 (ages 12 and up with a parent or guardian). $23. McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, 3333 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 925-3869; mccurdyscomedy.com.
Last modified: December 8, 2013
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