Fine Line(Man)

February 10, 2016

tempballMy defensive line coach, sophomore year at The University of Illinois, was a man named John Nelson. The Illini were coming off a winning season (a rarity in Champaign to this day!) and much of the team’s success came from a hard-nosed defense, anchored by a future NFL All-Pro named Scott Studwell – possibly a top 3 all-time player name.

During a late-August pre-season practice, Coach Nelson said – and this is a direct quote – “Offensive linemen are a dime a dozen!” As a player I remember thinking, “Huh?” And all these years later, after watching a mundane Super Bowl 50, I can make the case that Mr. Nelson was very wrong. Which might explain our team’s fall from grace (we won a total of 10 games over the next 4 years) and Nelson’s departure after my junior year, whereabouts unknown.

This was a couple of decades before the interactive world of football as we know it today, with the research and scouting combines that extend all the way down to peewee football. The hit Hollywood movie “The Blind Side” made clear what coaches and players in football already knew: offensive line play is more important than any fan, analyst or play-by-play announcer wants to acknowledge. Simply put, football comes down to blocking and tackling. Sorry, it starts and ends there.

Denver beat Carolina because the Panthers couldn’t block the Broncos, and the Broncos tackled the Panthers relentlessly. All the attention and hype goes to Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, the respective quarterbacks. But let’s be honest. Neither one distinguished himself in this game. Newton was handcuffed because no matter what packages his team employed, including two tight ends and all sorts of “protections,” they couldn’t block. Manning looked pedestrian at best, but his linemen did enough to keep Carolina from dominating the way Denver’s defense did.

Nobody knows or cares, but those offensive linemen have names. I won’t embarrass them here. Nos. 74, 73 and 68 for Carolina got manhandled. I felt sorry for them. 74 had one of the worst games any player has ever had in a Super Bowl, and the games’ MVP – Von Miller – was responsible for 74′s historic failure. On the Denver side, nos. 61, 65, 69 and 79 did just enough. They weren’t dominant. Frankly, they were barely passable, like a C-. But they are off the hook because their defense was so good, their QB did the bare minimum to win a boring game, and they outdid the Carolina offensive line, which graded out at an F.

My take on the whole thing? Thank goodness for the entertainment. Lady Gaga nailed the National Anthem. My wife thinks she’s been taking singing lessons. Beyoncé and Bruno Mars are the kind of superstars that transcend time and place, including the world’s largest TV audiences. I enjoyed Coldplay, and Chris Martin trying to wedge himself between the two afore-mentioned music superstars during the finale made me laugh out loud. So what if it wasn’t intentional? I’ll take a laugh wherever and whenever I can get it!

The headline is that Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl, and the NFL has its legend and storyline for years to come. The truth is that Super Bowl 50 was the game where nobody blocked and the music, all 15 minutes of it, outshone the game.

I don’t think I have ever seen a funnier or more entertaining show

February 3, 2016

I have seen Taylor before on video, but the live act shows what a talented man he really is. I don’t think I have ever seen a funnier or more entertaining show. My wife and I loved it. The interaction with the audience was unparalleled. I can’t wait to go to another show.

Wayne Soles
Disney Dream Cruise
January, 2016

Mile High Conversations

January 26, 2016

Ever have that random airplane seatmate that you’d just rather not talk with? Can you imagine that after flying five million miles, Taylor might have a story or two to tell?  (Spoiler Alert: He does!)  Click here to check out this month’s newsletter.

Hack Attack

January 14, 2016

I am, in comedy terms, a hack. It’s a derogatory term, meaning that even though I’m a “professional,” I’m not worthy of mainstream exposure. Good thing for me I don’t care.

Cartoon ComicI’ve worked with just about every kind of act there is: stand-up comics and cabaret singers; Broadway actors and rock ‘n’ roll bands; directors and magicians and producers and puppeteers and whatever-else-you-can-name. Most are professional, or could be professional, and many of them are as good as the game. I cannot begin to estimate the number of talented, hardworking and very deserving artists there are in the USA. It’s overwhelming. None would fall into the category of “hack” in my mind.

I judge artists and performers and writers and creative types by this simple test: do they bring something unique or different to their craft? Is there one thing they do I haven’t seen or heard or read before? In a world where “creativity” is at such a premium, coming up with something “new” or “singular” is really tough. I admire people who can do it on a regular basis. Heck, I admire anyone who comes up with just ONE new take on any subject. It’s hard to do.

Cartoon Comic with Rubber ChickenTo be a hack is to be scorned – not that it bothers me and I’m comfortable in my own skin, so there isn’t any animosity on my part. I don’t compare myself to others. I have a job to do, and that is to make audiences happy. Which I do with all the energy I can, while performing to the best of my ability, and “tayloring” (sorry) my act to a specific client.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, had two criteria for art that have not been improved upon. “… it should entertain and instruct.” The hip, cutting-edge artist says the masses cannot think and feel at the same time. I’m a more-amusement-and-less-instruction kinda guy, though both those descriptions are present and neither is slighted in my work.

To be truly entertaining, one has to appeal to a mass audience’s common humanity, and that means to include, as opposed to exclude. To interest viewers and listeners (and readers!) by a considered appeal to intelligence. I know, I know, if you do it badly, you deserve to be made fun of (me included). But if you do it well, only the elite get mad and disrespect you. Because by furthering the notion that art – ALL art – should disclose, not secrets to the few, but treasures to the many, might get you named a “hack,” but it has been my calling card for some 250 performances per year.

I can live with that. To be frank, I’ve graced more stages and I’ve done more live performances than Jay Leno, Chris Rock, Jeff Dunham and whoever your favorite musician or entertainer is. What some people call “hack” I call a career.

Come watch me work! I’m in Elkhorn, Nebraska on January 23.

Laundry Day

January 6, 2016

I do my own laundry.

I do my own laundry because I am a nice guy and I won’t subject anyone, most of all my wife, to the once-a-month kluster kludge of insanity that is my soiled, used and sometimes still-damp-from-the-gym clothing.

My travel schedule has been laughably out of control for two months so I bring home a large brightly colored bag filled with the used shirts and socks and pants and so on, throw it in my closet and grab more clothes for the next trip.

Starting this evening, I will embark on a 28-hour trek into the world of wash-dry-fold. Which brings me to my first laundry issue: we have washing machines; we have dryers; why has no one invented the “folding machine?”

Laundry Folding Machine

There are farm and agriculture machines that can husk corn, separate wheat from the chaff, even pick cotton. BUT THE FOLD MACHINE HAS NOT YET BEEN BUILT!?!? That is a startup waiting to happen. I would kickstart the process myself, but I have 7 loads of “colored clothes” to do.

Years ago I asked my mother, “Mom? I have to do my laundry. My shirts reek. How do I do it?” She said, “Oh for cry eye! The directions are right on the shirt!” I looked. Sure enough, there it was, written in plain English: “University of Illinois.”

It was weeks before I figured it out.

And isn’t there some way we could get socks to use some kind of “buddy system” so they’d be responsible for one another and not get lost?

I start the process in a few hours. My mind will wander as I organize pants and shirts, separate the stuff for the dry cleaner from the regular laundry, make an elite pile for the “delicates.” Who did the first laundry? Adam and Eve? They put the leaves they wore in a pile to be washed? How did they not mistake laundry for a salad?

So here are the essentials that my life has been boiled down to after a decades-long career. It’s all about three words. Starting tonight, here is THE MEANING OF LIFE:


Check out Taylor’s latest newsletter!

December 23, 2015

Check out Taylor’s latest newsletter!  Click here.