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Taylor Negron made eye contact and he made contact. When he left the world he left it a lot funnier and more colorful. Taylor had a reverence and attention that made people feel special and seen, the same quality and demeanor that his longtime friend Robin Williams had. He treated people as equals and peers. To quote Patti Smith quoting Robert Mapplethorpe in her amazing book Just Kids: “We never had any children…our work was our children.”
1) He was an advocate of using life for art and showing up imperfectly.
One time I was devastated because my boyfriend had been missing for over a week, and I didn’t think I could do my scheduled performance at Uncabaret, but I showed up anyway as a raw mess and just talked about what was happening. Afterward, Taylor was so effusive and wrote a sweet Facebook post about it and also asked me to open for him at his upcoming shows. He so validated the idea of showing up imperfectly being more than enough.
What a freeing and life-changing concept. As in, embrace imperfection, the beauty of the messy process, the not knowing of the now-ness (which is the whole concept of Uncabaret, a gift to L.A. comedy). When I next opened for him and Logan Heftel’s band at their sold out Uncabaret show, it was just after the death of Robin Williams and in that very style of raw candor and improvised wordsmithery, Taylor shared off-the-cuff, poignant musings about Robin and then told the audience that it was very important to pay it forward by supporting the younger comedians coming up in the world, namely the two of us who were on the show with him that night.
Over the years, I saw him advocate for many other storytellers from the Sit 'N Spin and Uncab worlds with similarly gracious gestures.
2) Taylor taught: Give back. Again and again, give back.
I don't know if people understand how rare it is for older, established artists to support younger ones — I mean, truly support them. He believed in me and he contributed to my Web series in a myriad of ways. It started as a “staged reading” of my messy stories in an abandoned warehouse-looking space that, like, five audience members came to see.
Taylor generously came out to read one of the parts that night. He came up with the name “ToyStory5” for the character that would later be played by comedian TJ Miller, and he starred in one of the original three episodes called “AlwaysBeClosing.” We filmed it at his place in Silver Lake. From those first three videos, we were able to raise the funds to finance an entire series which ended up on many “Best Web Series” lists, including ones made by IndieWire, LA Weekly, Funny or Die, and L.A. Film Fest. Taylor received an acting award from L.A. Web Fest.
3) Taylor lived a day making dinner for friends with the same passion and excitement as he did a day where he was on set with Sean Penn.
Taylor lived an exciting, extraordinary life — because he chose to. He had stuff to write about because he traveled, he lived in beautiful homes, he had dinner parties, he had wild affairs. He was eccentric and eclectic. He was strange magic. He was a piece of work and a work of art. He was a character and he had true character. There was never any other option for him.
4) Taylor wasn't a movie star. He was a star. Sometimes he acted in movies.
He wrote amazing plays. Do you know how long a play is and how long it must take to write one? He cast me as one of the leads in his sold-out Comedy Central Stage reading of Downward Facing Bitch. A great joy of my life was rehearsing and discussing Downward Facing Bitch with Taylor at Figaro Cafe in Los Feliz, where we’d get amped up running a scene and people would stare at us like we were a tragic fighting couple, then realize it was Taylor and say they loved him as the Pizza Guy in Fast Times.
5) Taylor showed me, in both his life and his death, what it means to be here now.
His sudden passing has reminded me that we just don’t have much time left and to focus on what is most important and let the rest go. There’s no room, there’s no time for anything that doesn’t feel aligned with my true purpose. In his own words, “By letting go of what you thought was going to happen in your life, you can enjoy what is actually happening.”
A couple days before he left the world, we were asked to make goodbye videos with our favorite memories and email them to Taylor, who was in hospice. Prior to that, I never knew he was sick.
I had so many questions that nobody could answer and too many good memories to fit on a short iPhone video. For such a prolific storyteller who lived out loud on so many levels, this was one card he had kept close to his chest. I can only imagine it was to leave people focused on the good as he absconded through a side door into the next dimension. Like any good comedian, he knew how to leave on a laugh and to leave them wanting more.
He inspired and made so many people feel so special and loved; even as he was taken from us, he was giving so much.
If there’s a person like this in your life, hug them and spend all the minutes you can with them, learn from them how to be an artist and how to be a work of art, how to treat others, how to pay it forward.
Or if you are this person, I hope you can truly know the impact you have on other people with your stories, your laughter, your light, and your kindness.