The best way to get into stand-up comedy, according to Spencer Taylor, is just to do it.
“Remember that the worst thing that can happen is you get no laughs,” she says. “I’ve had sets where I’ve gotten no laughs. And you survive. And you learn. And you do better next time.”
Taylor has been telling jokes on stage since she was 21 years old — after her mother gifted her with a series of stand-up classes for her birthday. She showed up, nervous, to the first class with a full five-minute set in hand, thinking she would have to perform that day. “I had completely misunderstood,” she remembers, “and I realized no one else had a set. But I decided to do it anyway.”
Taylor has taken that jump-in attitude and run with it.
Originally thinking she wanted to become a doctor, Taylor majored in biological sciences at Clemson. Her main inspiration was her favorite show, Scrubs. But it was during her junior year of college that Taylor realized she loved Scrubs for a different reason: the comedy. She began incorporating jokes into her class projects and presentations, challenging herself to make them both funny and educational.
“My idea shifted from ‘I want to be in medicine’ to ‘I want to be the person who created the television show that I love so much.’”
That was when stand-up and comedy became the prime focus. Taylor started going to open mics and performing at comedy clubs, where she pushed herself to be creative and overcome her natural shyness. She says her comedy style is conversational absurdism, “pointing out the weirdness of just the everyday.”
After graduation, Taylor was scouted by an entertainment manager while she was performing stand-up at Laughing Skull Lounge, a comedy club in Atlanta with national acclaim. After sending out a slew of writing samples to “like every late-night show you can think of,” she was offered a writing job in Los Angeles for the show mixed-ish, a prequel spinoff of the show black-ish, starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson.
With a Black mother and white father, Taylor brings a lot of her own experiences to the writers room. Despite revisiting “sometimes painful” life experiences, Taylor says the reward has been the connections she’s helped make: “One of my favorite things is getting on social media and scrolling through the comments and seeing thousands of mixed people say, ‘Oh, I had this experience of not knowing what to do with my hair either,’ or ‘Oh my god, I felt that nervousness about where to sit in the lunchroom, too.’ All of that has been really, really cool.”
Given the chance to flex her writing chops on mixed-ish, Taylor hopes to get more writing and comedy opportunities under her belt. But walking into the writers room on the show is still surreal.
“I can’t believe that I do this for a living,” she says. “One of my now closest friends and co-workers was a writer on Scrubs. It’s just been insane to make people laugh who have made me laugh growing up.”