Aisha Tyler On ‘Archer,’ Not Knowing What Boredom Is, And Directing Her First Feature Film


When she’s not yelling into the microphone, recording her lines as Lana Kane for Archer, Aisha Tyler is doing everything else there is to be done in the entertainment industry. This includes hosting the highly successful podcast Girl on Guy, serving as co-host of the daytime talk show The Talk on CBS, starring in Criminal Minds, preparing to direct her first feature film — the only thing she isn’t doing is taking a break.

Which is totally fine, for as Tyler put it in an interview with us, she doesn’t know how to be bored. Between managing the Kickstarter for her upcoming film, Axis, and responding graciously to all the die-hard Archer fans who can’t help themselves when they tweet “Lana!” at her, Tyler knows exactly what she’s doing.

I suspect people shout “Lana!” at you in public a lot.
Yes, they do. I get that probably the most. I’m used to it by now. It comes from the intense love and passion for the show that Archer fans have. I remember, in the beginning, people wanted me to say “What?” and I’d think, “Oh God.” But people love it, and it’s fine for me because of that passion. And yes, I do see that in my social media timelines a lot. But I’m fine with it. This is my cross to bear.

It’s amazing how recognizable the cast — of an animated show, no less — has become. You, Chris Parnell (Cyril Figgis), Jessica Walter (Malory Archer) and others resemble your characters to a degree, but H. Jon Benjamin doesn’t look like Sterling.
Part of that is because Archer was originally a cult hit, but the fans were so passionate about it for such a long time. They consume it a bit differently than other animated shows like South Park — though Matt Stone and Trey Parker are well-known — and The Simpsons. There are only 13 episodes a season, so people watch them obsessively. They’ll watch them over and over again, and then they’ll go back and watch the whole show from the beginning. I think that might be a part of it, especially since when it first aired, not a lot of people were watching it. So the fans who were watching it became evangelists of a sort. They’d try to get their friends to watch it and they would talk about it constantly. They felt a real ownership over it. It wasn’t on a big network like The Simpsons and South Park, where people really knew it as a kind of zeitgeisty kind of show. Ours really was a creeper, so our best fans have always loved it unnaturally. I don’t know what that says about us.

Excellent use of “creeper” and “unnaturally” in the same sentence.
[Laughs.] Thanks.

Aside from seven seasons of Archer, you’ve also done voice work for BoJack Horseman and many video games. Is there something in particular that you enjoy about that process?
Every acting job is interesting in its own way. Voice work is fun because you don’t have to go through hair and makeup, and you have this opportunity to just delve right into the dialogue. It lets you engage with the text on an intellectual level immediately. You only have your voice, really, to communicate what you want to say. So in some ways it’s more difficult than being able to rely on other actors, props and an environment to make things feel real. All you have is your voice. I enjoy it, and I love doing it. A lot of it has to do with a passion for the material, especially for me and video games. I love video games, and there’s nothing cooler than hearing your voice come out of a video game. It’s the most exciting thing.

Like in Halo: Reach.
Yes. HaloGears of War and Watch Dogs.

Tell me about your Kickstarter for Axis.
It seems like it’s going well. I’ve never done a Kickstarter campaign before, but a part of it — with all the tweeting at supporters and retweeting their posts — is letting them know that I’m hearing and seeing them. That I value their contributions. It’s been great to have a conversation about the film with people, especially when they’re backing it and telling their friends about it. I just want to tell the world about what they’ve done and thank them for it.