Up-and-coming comedian Preston Taylor just released his first hour-long comedy special, Farm to TV.
Preston shares stories about his upbringing in a small country farm town in Texas to his wild days in Los Angeles. From Church gatherings with family, to ass whoopings, to sleeping with every white girl possible while attending Kansas State, to tackling racism as the whitest sounding black man he knows, to sexual fetishes and even childhood lessons on how to make your junk bigger – nothing is off limits in this intimate stand-up special from this fresh new face.
Check out my conversation with the unapologetically funny Preston Taylor.
First off, congratulations on your comedy show! What’s it like knowing that it’s out there in the world for people to see?
Preston: It’s very interesting because I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like. I’ve been waiting for this for almost two years now, and as it was approaching, it was kind of like Christmas. So, when it finally came out, it’s almost this release of like, ‘Hey, I finally did it!’ That dream is here. And, you know, these days with being able to scroll and click through so many things, being able to just say my name into the remote and it pop up is probably the coolest thing ever.
You said that you’ve been waiting for this moment for about two years, is that when you filmed it?
Preston: Yeah, since I filmed it. I started my comedy career in the summer of 2010 and, you know, plenty of people try comedy or try doing stand up but a lot of them don’t get to a point where, I’d say 95 percent of people or I don’t get to a point where they say ‘okay, I’m gonna go film an hour long comedy special.’ So I think about two years in, about 2012, this really started becoming something that I thought,’ hey, I really want to do this. I really want to get up there and one day, hopefully, have my hour long special.’
Did you spend that whole time planning for this?
Preston: No, no, then it became the life of the artist. That’s kind of what Farm to TV really is about, that journey that I’ve kind of had out here in a sense. Because coming from a tiny town in Texas and then, even though I went to a division one college in Kansas, it was still a small farm town, outside of all the college kids there. So then once I actually moved to Los Angeles and I’m 23 years old, it was my first time actually living in a big city. You have no clue, I mean, rents three times higher than I thought it was going to be. You find out the true meaning of starving artists, because you’re young, you have no common sense about the city, the cost of things, life, and so you’re just making mistakes and stumbling along the way. Plus you’re trying to learn an industry that really isn’t an easy one to learn on the fly. So, I knew it was gonna be a journey and take some time and so really from 2012 to 2019, was basically, you know, how many jobs can you do? How many connections can you make while traveling around, building up your joke sets, building up your time? I heard once, I believe it was Chris Rock say on average, a good comic or a decent comic that was working constantly probably adds seven to 10 minutes of good material a year, you know, that they’ll keep, even though they work on hours and hours of stuff. But the rest of the year you’re trying out everything. You’re trying all these different things and so it really does take that much time for specials to come out, you know, for you to build up enough to have an hour long special. So I think all that time led up to it.
I didn’t realize there was that much preparation. I just go to the shows to laugh and I don’t really think too much of it.
Preston: That’s the hope, that’s the real goal in all of this is that at the end of the day, it looks like, for us, even though we’ve probably done the same joke or same move or same weird quirky thing 1000 times, we’re hoping that it looks like we’re doing it for the first time and it looks easy peasy. And, you know if you can show up and just laugh and we’re doing our job.
What was the moment when it kind of clicked that you should be a comedian?
Preston: That’s a funny way to put it because I did have an actual, like, aha moment. I kind of always have been the sneaky funny person. I was not outlandish as far as trying to be the center of attention as much as I loved to be the dude that whispered something under his breath to make whoever was really near me laugh, and very shy about public speaking. And so, in 2010, I had actually been living in LA for two years at the time, I moved from here to New York to runway model for two months. And in New York, I will tell people this forever changed me. I had been writing comedy at that point in 2010. I’d been writing jokes for three years, never thought about getting on stage, I just kind of thought maybe I’d be a sketch writer, maybe something will happen one day. But I’m in New York, riding on the subway, and, you know, a comedy show breaks out. This dude is just doing stand up in one of the subway cars. Next day I get on the subway, there’s another guy, he’s doing a stand up routine, next day you get on there’s a dude playing the violin. You’re walking up and down the streets, people are bumping into each other, ‘hey F you, hey F you, alright have a nice day’ and for some reason it clicked. I’ll never forget walking down the street in New York that day and was like, if these people can do this on a daily basis and not care with all the millions of people walking around, how is it that I can’t actually get on an actual stage at a comedy place where people will walk in expecting me to be funny. Like, I don’t know why that was what broke the barrier for me, but that person in New York did it for me… I still remember the day I called my mom, it was in summer in June and I just moved back and I hadn’t even been here a week, and I said ‘hey I’m gonna go try stand up comedy this week.’The laugh that I heard in her voice that day has been forever frozen in my mind, in memory. It was almost like cackle ‘ what, my son on stage talking in front of people? That’s never going to happen.’ So, the fact that we’ve made it all the way to this point, I am pretty proud.
What is it like for you being up on stage by yourself?
Preston: Terrifying. It’s a transition. A cousin of mine that ended up being a professional athlete, he was transitioning and trying to transition into entertainment, but he always made his transition sports related, And he said something to me that was always a great kicker, he’s said ‘ Preston, I just realized something. We’ve always been entertainers.’ We were just playing sports, you know, when we’re growing up, we’re kind of like high end sports athletes growing up and, of course, he went on to do great things but I got to the college level and I realized he was right. When you play football at the Division One level there’s thousands of people in the crowd, that’s entertainment. And then all of a sudden when I found comedy, tadah! It became this thing where it replaced that feeling and that that big crowd. But now, when you’re on the stage, there’s no team, there’s no jersey, there’s no audience. Now it’s just you. You’re naked, you know, and I’ve heard that term a lot, when you’re on stage or from stage actors, feeling naked on stage. Comedy is naked. You feel like you might as well just be up there with nothing on because, you know, grab a microphone, stand on the stage and here’s 500 people in a room. Go make them laugh. If you put it into that context, that’s a silly crazy idea. So it is terrifying and interesting every time but it also gives me that almost adrenaline and tingling feeling. So, that part helps me overcome the fear, every time, I think.
That makes sense, because you said earlier that you’re not very fond of public speaking, but yet here you are.
Preston: Well, it’s, it’s a weird mix. Growing up, I was a huge Eddie Murphy, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray fan. For me, laughter was always a way for, I don’t care if you’re rich or poor, whatever, you know, life situation having going on, everyone should laugh, and everyone should be able to laugh at something. I had an opportunity, I worked in the Bay Area, worked in tech, you know, and I saw what it was like to do the nine to five. Sometimes they just need a break, they need something to do from their normal life, their day to day, their kids, life, whatever the situation is and they just want to laugh. I want to be that guy when you need a break, when you need to just laugh and get away from life, and that really is kind of what motivates me to get out of that kind of mindset or my fear of public speaking. It’s like no, this is what your job is, you’re put here to make people laugh, so go do that.
What is your strategy for coming up with your content and your jokes?
Preston: I always tell people real life. When I first started doing comedy in 2010 A lot of the comics that I ran into always ask, ‘Hey, you want to meet me at a Starbucks tomorrow at 7:30 or eight and let’s grab some coffee and write jokes,’ and it didn’t hit me at the time but looking back on it, it makes sense now. I was like, ‘bro, what’s funny at Starbucks at 9 a.m. on a Monday? That’s not how I write jokes,’ and he’s like, ‘how do you write?’ Real life, you know like if you want to write jokes with me, let’s walk down Hollywood Boulevard at 3 a.m. when everybody’s falling up and down out of the clubs. That, to me, is where funny things are going to happen. My shows are very observational, they’re very generalized and I’m trying to find as many things that I think most people have run into, or experienced in some way shape or form, so that I can hit as much of an audience as humanly possible when I write a joke.
In watching your show, you made the comment that the world’s gotten too serious, that we need to laugh about it. Can you just elaborate a little bit more on what exactly you mean by that?
Preston: It’s funny too, because I mentioned that this was shot two years ago, in 2019, and I think it has gotten even worse since then. I remember my last show on tour, I was in Portland and once again, going city to city, some of these boys don’t know any better. I’m letting it go, just like I did during my show and one of the bar owners there, after the show was like ‘hey, you can come up and do this anytime. They loved you.’ He was like, ‘man, we hadn’t heard stuff like that in a long time.’ He said the crowd is so PC here like, ‘oh they won’t say anything, they’re not allowed to talk about, you know they don’t want to talk about race, they don’t want to talk about politics. They don’t want to talk about anything.’ I was like, ‘that’s the whole purpose of comedy,’ like the whole point of comedy is to be able to have those conversations that people don’t want to have or to say those things that people don’t think they’re supposed to say. That’s the whole purpose. It’s become a fine line recently with, ‘hey, this person said this, they’re fired, hey this person did this, they’re fired.’ The moment someone says something, or something gets taken out of context, next thing you know. you’re berated by a million people online. So, that’s where I believe that we’ve gotten to a point where we’re a little bit too PC with things, where it’s like, you can just take a joke. Some things were meant to just be funny. You know, if I made a mistake in public or on a radio show or something like once, it’s supposed to be entertainment. Once I’m on stage, it’s just supposed to be for entertainment. Anything outside of that, you’re looking way too into.
So, what you’re saying is the content of your show isn’t going to be affected by anything outside in society?
Preston: No, it won’t. One of my best friends and managers and buddies out here, Brandon, we sat down in 2010 and this is the first conversation we had as like, I would say six or seven shows in and things are going well, you know, picking up some steam meeting people and started getting on the road, and I will never forget. One of the comics we were with on the road ran into something where a lady stopped him after the show, and they got into it, like heated. I went back that night I mean, I’ve never seen that before. Like, I mean, I thought that lady was gonna hit him like it was crazy, and I felt bad because, as he said he goes, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do here, I’m not apologizing for the job.’ And in that moment, I had to make a decision. Dave Chappelle talked about that as well a lot, I do idolize him. He said, ‘what I do on stage is for you to watch for entertainment and entertainment only. It is half the time not even indicative of what I think or, you know, might even feel about something, it’s purely supposed to be for your enjoyment or entertainment.’ So, for me that’s where it’s supposed to be free and fun. I will never, and I’m hoping I can repeat this 30 years from now, I will never apologize for a joke. That is the plan. I hope that I can stick to that, but my goal is that if it was literally a joke, and my job as a comedian is to tell jokes, I’m not going to apologize for something you should understand was only meant to be funny. Now if I maliciously have some underground tape surface, like I’m some ex MBA owner, then yeah, that’s a problem. Then you know that I really meant something that I said on stage, or there was some underlying tone behind it. But unless something crazy like that happens, it’s just for the stage. I’m not even the same person off the stage that I am on the stage. I’m nowhere near the same person.
You even touched on that too in your show, you’re like ‘they’re guilty, they did some weird shit.”
Preston: There’s a difference between PC and understanding criminal acts. like no one’s saying that, ‘Oh, the world is too PC, they’re attacking everybody.’ No, no, you should attack those people. You shouldn’t drug people and have sex with them, you shouldn’t do that. That isn’t to PC, that’s wrong, that’s rape. I’m not okay with that, but, you know, finding out that someone said something 13 years ago when they were 12, and it gets reposted online, I’m not gonna hold them accountable for it, you know, that’s a different story.
What does your family think about your comedy?
Preston: That is a great question. That was the only part of this I cared about or had any bit of a worry about. Because at the end of the day, you are your hardest critic, you know, going from city to city doing comedy especially being in the bigger cities, half of the stuff people can relate to and feel better. Small town country folks, especially my family, a lot of those people that have never left the small town country, half of the stuff I said was going over their head. The other half was blowing their mind, and another half, they wanted to know if that’s real or not. I’m pretty sure, you know, my grandmother was throwing holy water at the TV. I’d have to say I was more terrified of their review than anything Hollywood could have done. But I was very fortunate that I kind of gave them a heads up. They’ve seen me perform over the years, but I warned them. They’ve kind of seen, you know, smaller shows, 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there, you know, kind of cookie cutter stuff. I was like, ‘this is gonna be different.’ I think they were a little bit shocked but they were okay, especially once I walked my mom through everything. Mom and Mama Dorothy, they were the only two that really I had to calm down a little bit. Mama Dorothy was first and she said, ‘Baby, I loved it. It was just entertainment. I adored it,’ and I was like ‘thank goodness.’ My mom, on the other hand, it was almost as if we did a joke by joke breakdown of the entire show, because she needed to know what was real and what wasn’t. She was like ‘I never whooped Boogie with jumper cables!’ I told her, ‘Mom, you know you never whooped Boogie with jumper cables, so why are you mad?’ ‘Well I don’t know, it just makes me seem like a villain.’ I was like, ‘Mom, it’s a joke!’ Once she finally got over that part of it, she was like ‘okay, okay, okay. I guess I did enjoy it. You know me baby. I wouldn’t be that mean. I was like ‘mom, no one thinks you’re mean after watching that.
Nah, we just think she’s a mom like doing her job.
Preston: Everyone gave me good feedback and it’s funny because me and my dad have a very playful relationship, same with myself and my sons, where you’d think we’re just friends and buddies in the way we talk all the time and hang out. He was actually the last one to call, and I knew something was up. Everyone warned him like a year ago about the bitch comment in the show. I think he forgot. So I get a call about three or four days ago, and he said, ‘ son, your mom called me and she told me that you were being a little shy here about getting your COVID shot,’ and I said ‘yeah, I’m just kind of waiting it out. I’m not sure.’ He goes,’ Well, I just want you to know, stop being a little bitch and go get your COVID shot.’ ‘You just couldn’t wait, could you? You had to find somewhere to call me a bitch back.’ I knew it was coming.He just had to get that one off his chest but after that, he was all good with the show… I will say it’s almost a validation, you know, you come out here, someone like myself, a country kid with the pipe dream to be on TV, 12-13 years ago. And especially coming out of college with a degree, your family, the pressure of ‘hey, you use that thing. We spent tons of money on it, why are you telling jokes?’ So, to finally get to a point where the show was actually out, and then they actually get to see it and enjoy it, yeah, it definitely kind of pulls it all together and kind of gives you that validation of it was all worth it.
Do you have any in-person shows coming up? What are things starting to look like for you now that the vaccines are coming out and people are getting a little bit more brave?
Preston: Now people are dying to get out and do things. I didn’t perform. I took the year as a chance to write. I studied chemistry in college and so when this thing popped out I was like great, 18 months, 18 months before things are normal. I never could get into the Zoom shows that they were trying to get done out here, and with California still. I mean, I think we’re just at like 20 percent capacity at places. I just haven’t performed, other than for my mirror and friends and family close by. Now that this is out, I’m excited to probably start putting my summer schedule together, start trying to hit the road as venues are opening up and the vaccine, things like that. Definitely going to get the opportunity in the second half of this year to one, promote Farm to TV, and two, start gearing up for show number two, because I definitely have a second hour ready. So hopefully hit the road and and start getting that act tightened up here and maybe by the end of this year, early next year, started getting ready to shoot number two… Look out for the title “Farmed and Dangerous.” I always tell people that the goal is a trilogy with three farm titles.
Love that! Before I let you go, is there anything else that you would like to say about Farm to TV?
Preston: Oh, one thing I did like to mention about Farm to TV is that, for me, I was always a, I don’t want to say true comedy buff, but it’s kind of like the TV magic that we didn’t know existed as kids. I realized as I studied what the comics did out of the 70s and 80s, which were they just walk into a venue and hey, I got a camera and a crew and I’m gonna film this thing and a lot of the specials we saw from back in the day, how they were shot wasn’t this six- seven cities and we’re going to shoot five nights in one place and five nights another place and piece together the show and so forth. One of the things that I was excited about with Farm to TV is that we did it old school. We shot it one night, one time only. That show was performed once and it was performed never again. I take pride that we were able to shoot it one time through, 65 minutes and then the team afterwards is able to cut and put together something that, you know, ended up making the final cut, making it all the way to the big screen. I’m so very gracious and think that’s kind of a unique thing that doesn’t happen anymore.