Taylor Negron — stand-up comedian, actor, painter, poet and muse — died Saturday from cancer. Negron was 57.
Born Brad Stephen Negron on Aug. 1, 1957, in Glendale, Calif., young Taylor already was performing stand-up comedy and appearing in episodes of The Dating Game by the time he matriculated at UCLA in the 1970s. While still a teen, he also studied privately with Lucille Ball, and he took acting classes with Lee Strasberg.
Over four decades, Negron earned some 150-odd film and TV credits, either as an actor or as himself. Often, his character work registered so oddly memorable it downright bordered on scene-stealing. And his work onstage as a stand-up comedian in the 1980s at The Comedy Store attracted the attention of all of his peers.
As Carol Leifer recalled over the weekend: “What really stands out to me about Taylor is that he was the true definition of a ‘comic’s comic.’ Whenever he went on stage, all the comedians would make a bee line to the back of the room to watch him. “What’s Taylor going to say tonight?” “What outrageous riff will he go on?” (Me: Overton, Can i squeeze in front of you? You’re too tall to stand behind.”) And guaranteed, Taylor would deliver: fierce, dangerous, always in the moment. We were all mesmerized standing back there, watching this bright light in a sea of prop comics and impressionists.”
His first big-screen roles came in 1982, with both Young Doctors in Love and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The latter offered this signature scene with Negron as the pizza guy making an in-class delivery.
A year later, he played Rodney Dangerfield’s son-in-law in Easy Money.
Two years after that, the mailman in Better Off Dead.
He got to perform stand-up in the 1988 film, Punchline, where he killed with a bit about an “area rug” salesman.
Before you could typecast him, though, he went villainous versus Bruce Willis in the 1991 action flick, The Last Boy Scout.
Which, in turn, allowed him to poke fun at that, facing off against Ben Stiller impersonating Willis in “Die Hard 12: Die Hungry” sketch for The Ben Stiller Show.
The 1990s saw Negron chewing up the scenery with small supporting roles in hit sitcoms such as Friends and Seinfeld, as well as a recurring role on The Hughleys. More recently, you may have seen him in films such as the family-friendly Stuart Little, as well as the opposite of that, The Aristocrats documentary.
Let's all snap a 'crat for the wonderful, brilliant talented Aristocrat, Taylor Negron. His performance inspired much of that movie.
— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) January 11, 2015
All the while, Negron loved to experiment onstage and tell stories of his eclectic adventures. He directed a musical salute to Telly Savalas, and mounted a one-man show, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being Taylor Negron” that went to Edinburgh and back.
In Los Angeles, Negron actively participated in the UnCabaret, which encouraged his onstage explorations. Here is his tale about the “Model Cult.”
And in New York City, Negron told stories at The Moth and anywhere else that would have him. This story, “California Gothic,” just posted to YouTube a couple of weeks ago on Christmas Eve.
Few people knew Negron was even sick. Close friends only found out last week when Negron entered hospice.
Which makes this red-carpet chat with Dish Nation even more poignant, as Negron remarks on last year’s deaths of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, and is asked about the meaning of life. It’s love. Of course, it’s love.
In December 2013, Negron’s Ted Talk, “We Must Be,” revealed to us that his own lifelong muse was Mae West.
Having brushes with fame but realizing that I will always be That Guy, it’s been easy for me let go of my ego.
Over the years, I have enjoyed my proximity to Hollywood and to celebrity itself knowing fully well that a truly huge career can only happen with an ambitious, determined team of agents, club owners and carefully placed waitresses. I’ve let go of being the guy who gets the girl to help the girl who wants the guy.
Instead, I am the Alternative Everyman. I have been your postman. I am the man who delivered your pizza. I was the gang member who kidnapped your daughter at gunpoint. I’m a nanny for children. I am a stylist for Stuart Little. I am your shrink. I direct porn films. I am the groom and the maid of honor.
I look at my alternative everyman predicament this way. By letting go of what you thought was going to happen in your life, you can enjoy what is actually happening.
That is what I do.
I’m That Guy.
Taylor Negron played everyman and remained ever in touch with his humanity. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him, and all of us who wished we did.
To my old pal, brilliantly funny and talented Taylor Negron…RIP pic.twitter.com/GMYKp4bYad
— Richard Lewis (@TheRichardLewis) January 11, 2015