Taylor Mason graduated with a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, got a job at a downtown Chicago marketing firm, and quit on his first day at work.
"I had a panic attack," Mr. Mason said.
He went down the street, walked into a restaurant and was hired as a waiter. He hasn't held a "real job" since.
Mr. Mason instead has been making a living entertaining people with a "mishmash" of comedy, ventriloquism, and music.
He will perform Friday night at the Maumee Indoor Theatre in a benefit show for Toledo Grace Brethren Church, which is seeking to raise money for roof repairs.
In an interview this week, Mr. Mason said he was not the class clown growing up.
"I considered myself very funny and intelligent, neither of which was true," he said. "I had a very wholesome, Middle American upbringing, and being the class clown was frowned upon. But there were times when I'd take advantage of the moment, especially when I was with my friends."
In college, his attempts at comedy didn't produce the desired results. In fact, he said, "they made people feel uncomfortable."
"One of my first bits was I recorded the audio from [TV shows] The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game - this was before you could DVR or TiVo anything - and I wrote out the entire dialogue like a script, and that was my act."
Mr. Mason had more luck when he started incorporating ventriloquism into his act. He first started practicing that skill at age 11 or 12, when his parents bought him a puppet with a plastic head and a pull-string mouth.
He now has 15 puppets to choose from and brings six or seven to his shows, including a sarcastic sidekick named Romeo. He also plays keyboards in concert.
Although Mr. Mason is a Christian, he does not preach or evangelize but seeks to entertain audiences with wholesome comedy. "I'm not a Christian comedian; I'm a comedian that's Christian. That's a huge difference," he said.
Taylor Mason performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Maumee Indoor Theatre, 601 Conant St., Maumee. Tickets, $25 for adults and $20 for students, are available at LifeWay Christian Store, 4121 Talmadge Rd. Information: 419-472-1212.
- David Yonke