Taylor Tomlinson on Being the Lone Woman in Late-Night: ‘It Feels Like Pressure When People Ask Me About It’

Taylor Tomlinson didn’t imagine herself as a host when she first met with CBS about their “@Midnight” reboot last year. She assumed the filming schedule would interfere with her first love — stand-up — but it was worth taking the meeting to meet new people and maybe score some panelist appearances.

But when the executives in charge revealed they’d create a filming schedule that would allow her to still perform comedy gigs on the weekends, an entirely new world opened up.

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“I took this job because I wanted to develop new skills and grow as a person,” Tomlinson tells Variety while walking around her set. “I think I have definitely experienced that. I am able to work on a team of people that I really like, respect and enjoy.”

Now, Tomlinson is months into hosting “After Midnight,” a panel comedy show modeled after the former Comedy Central series, which brings in comedians from various backgrounds to riff and comment on trending topics for arbitrary points and prizes. It is not a sit-down interview talker for insomniacs to find out about new movie or TV releases. As a comedy nerd, Tomlinson relishes the chance to give fellow comedians a spotlight.

“It’s mainly a platform for comedians, for people who are down to play and show off their comedic chops. It’s silly and fun. It really feels like playing every night,” she says. “The format has kept the original’s full spirit alive, because everyone has jokes written and is prepared. We’re a really good comfort show. It’s the perfect thing to watch when you’re getting ready for work in the morning or when you’re having breakfast or falling asleep.”

The gig makes Tomlinson the only female host currently in late night, now that Amber Ruffin has pivoted to special episodes over on NBC. While the comedian acknowledged that many have come before her, she is very aware she’s a lone wolf for the moment. She tries not to let it dictate her decisions when she’s hosting the show or weighing in on its creative aspects.

“It feels like pressure when people ask me about it. Should I be more worried about that? I’m more worried about how we get a second season so that this crew of people gets to keep working together,” the host says. “I’m not coming to work going, ‘You’re the one. You’re the woman, so you better make this work.’”

Tomlinson is all in favor of seeing more women inhabit the late-night space, whether in the traditional interview format or something else.

“I don’t want to be dismissive of being the only woman in late night. I would love to see a traditional talk show helmed by a woman. I would love to see more shows like ours,” she says. “There are lots of different ways to do this, a lot of different perspectives, and they aren’t being represented currently.”

For now, Tomlinson is focused on her own growth — emotionally, professionally and even physically. She has been inspired by the “After Midnight” warm-up comedian Percy Rustomji to reach a very specific goal by the season’s wrap in August.

“A few of us have decided we’re going to try and be able to do the splits by the end of Season 1,” she shares. “I’ve been stretching. [Percy] said, ‘You’ll feel something rip in your inner thigh, and then you’ll be able to do it after months and months of stretching.’ So, I’m just waiting for that important rip.”

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