Books & Literature

Interview: One Night Stand author and comedian Simon Taylor

We sat down with legendary comedian Simon Taylor to chat about his debut novel One Night Stand.

Are you a Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell or (for the Netflix users) Magic for Humans fan? Enjoy the laughs of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno? If so, then chances are you are familiar with the comedic writings of Simon Taylor. 

With fresh stand-up comedy shows every year, this amazing performer now gives us something to take home. From page one onwards, I laughed nonstop with Simon Taylor’s debut book One Night Stand. 

Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Taylor when he was in town for the Adelaide Fringe to talk about what led to his book. Although the premise of the book is true, the novel is quite liberal in truth. What about the characters, though? 

The novel is written in first person from the perspective of Ben Thomas, who Taylor says is an extreme version of himself, although the part about eating peas for lunch whilst at the start of his career is unequivocally true. “Perhaps also,” he ponders, “the visits to the parents being partially motivated by an empty stomach.”

Family members who read the book say the character of his dad is 100% accurate (with the exception of his habit!), yet his mum is alive and well. Libby and Jin are both composite characters. Libby is a merging of two of his best friends whereas Jin is a mix of many of his Perth-based friends.

Secondary character Tash, however, is distinctly different from her real-life persona. ‘This was done to protect her privacy.” The acknowledgements at the back of the book do give gratitude to some of his actual supports whilst he was experiencing the event in real life. “I take events from real life and creatively express them. Just like a prism, where light goes in and a rainbow comes out. For me, it’s life goes in and comedy comes out.”

Another focus of the book was to give people a real indication of what life is like as an upcoming comedian. At one point in his struggle, to pay for his rent, he had to sell his entire Seinfield DVD collection. Taylor says, “There comes a point where you have to decide whether you are going to commit to comedy or not.”

Taylor’s amazing success proves he made the right choice committing to a career in comedy. As a man of many talents, he could have taken a different path. As a child, he spent a decade learning dance. In his teenage years, it was drama. By early adulthood, it was music and poetry. He then spent a few years mastering magic tricks. It wasn’t until he was 22 that he discovered the world of stand-up comedy. 

Two years later, at the age of 24, he was given a contract to write for Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. Taylor is very humble, as he puts this down to “luck”; yet this type of amazing offer is only reserved for the very few. Taylor is a dedicated performer; jokes that have failed in small stand-up gigs do not make it to his annual tour. “They are never heard again.”

In the case of perfecting One Night Stand, it took two years, the culling of entire chapters, and the removal of approximately 10,000 words to get it right. It is such a great read that, at the present time, a screenplay for a film is being negotiated.

Although Taylor was approached to write this book by Larrikin House, he does have a distinct message he wants everyone to understand, so it goes beyond just providing us with comedic pleasure. He wants anyone who is sexually active, no matter what age, to realise how reliable (or not) forms of contraception are. If something is unplanned, it is still a responsibility. The book is well disguised as a comedy piece.

Will we be lucky enough to read another? Absolutely!! He is currently in the process of drafting his second masterpiece—the protagonist here a magician. Will we have to wait long? Again, absolutely. “You are only as successful as your last gig.” I look forward to reading his next one in 2022 or 2023.

Interviewed by Rebecca Wu

Check out our review of One Night Stand by Simon Taylor here. You can keep up with Simon’s work on his website.

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