It has been a hot minute since we’ve held the hot mic at Kats Comedy Hut. Our headliner this week is Taylor Tomlinson, returning to Encore Theater on at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday on “The Have It All Tour.”
Tomlinson recalled in a phone chat Monday that she visited Vegas when she was in the fifth grade. Her family took her to the Bellagio Fountains.
“That’s pretty much all I got,” the standout, stand-up comic said. “But I love the Strip. I love walking around, I love the people-watching and I still love the fountains, honestly.”
This is where the entertainer is entertained, whether by dancing waters or a busker dressed as Spider-Man. But Tomlinson has seen more of Vegas than just the man-made lake. Though not yet 30, she has headlined Laugh Factory at the Tropicana and Comedy Cellar at the Rio, prior to advancing to Encore Theater.
Tomlinson is riding the momentum of two Netflix specials, “Quarter Life Crisis” from 2020, and last year’s “Look At You.” She plans to record her next, yet-untitled concert special in November.
Those specials, especially “Quarter Life Crisis,” were the catalyst for the 29-year-old Tomlinson’s rise from the clubs to a theater headliner.
“I’ve been doing stand-up since I was 16, so almost 14 years now,” Tomlinson said. “I think the Netflix special probably changed everything for me. It came out right before the COVID shut down. I was now selling tickets and that just felt like it happened overnight, but it was just interrupted by COVID.”
Sixteen is a comparatively young age to perform as a professional stand-up. But Tomlinson didn’t start as a full-time, club pro in her teens.
“I took a class from a church comedian and I was squeaky-clean for five, six years of my career starting in churches, corporates and schools,” Tomlinson said. “That was a way to perform in front of a lot of people, more than open mics, which of course I had no business doing … But I wasn’t a professional comedian. Nobody is a professional comedian for the first five, six years they’re doing it.”
Tomlinson has always been well-read (she wanted to be a young-adult novelist, as a young adult), a talented writer and adept at public speaking. Comedy was her path.
“I liked writing, I liked performing, but I couldn’t sing or dance,” Tomlinson said. “Where I grew up (in Temecula in Orange County), they didn’t do plays with kids so much. They’re not putting on’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ?’ with children. So once I found stand-up, I was like, ‘Oh, this is everything I like, public speaking. This is speech and debate. This is writing. It’s literally everything I’m doing, all combined.”
Jimmy “J.J.” Walker has been on television, somewhere in the world, since “Good Times” premiered on CBS in 1974. The show remains in syndication, from the time (as Walker recalls), ” “There were three channels, and TV actually went off the air!”
The man who played teenage J.J. Evans on the show is now 76 years old, living in Las Vegas. Walker is also a busy club comic, the star headliner at Ahern Live Comedy Showroom’s premiere last Thursday and Friday nights.
Walker joked about being in text with a prospective date, telling the woman who he was. She responded, “J.J. Walker? I thought he was dead!”
“You’re thinking of George Jefferson,” Walker said. Google it. Funny.
Comic-magician Lorenzo Clark hosts at the new club, located on the second floor of a hotel attempting to chisel an entertainment identity. Rex Meredith headlining this weekend, followed by our old buddy Bobby Slayton on Sept. 22-23, and our less-old buddy Kathleen Dunbar Sept. 29-30. Solid pros, across the stage. Ahernhotel.com for further intel.
Chuckles at the Copa?
The Copa at Bootlegger Bistro is for the first time staging stand-up comedy (we are not counting Tony Davich’s “International Brotherhood of Horn Bands” monologue at Santa Fe shows). Dunbar hosts “Copa Comedy,” opening at 7 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.) Wednesday.
Steve Caouette headlines, with Derek Richards the featured comic. The series runs the second Wednesday of every month; tickets are $20 (a mere pittance) Call or text 702-609-3390 to get there.
Used to be Shimmer …
And today, Westgate Cabaret, is back with its comedy concept, Comedy Cabaret “Viral Sensation Series.” These are big social-media comics (we deduce), with Justine Marino headlining Wednesday and Thursday. Marino is creator of “Stand-Up 2 the Streets,” and star of “The Funny Dance Show,” both on E! Rising star Alex Carabano, out of Brooklyn, steps in Sept. 19-21.
The cabaret is a fine room for all forms of live entertainment. I’ve seen Gilbert Gottfried and Andrew Dice Clay in the venue, among other top comics. The club is more fun when it’s full; go to westgateresorts.com to set it up.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.