As part of Archer Week here at UPROXX Aisha Tyler was awesome enough to spend some time chatting with me about the show’s success, her new podcasting gig, and the burning questions about Lana Kane’s outfits that need answers.
So how was it to chat with her? Well, think of how delightful you assume a conversation with Aisha Tyler would be, now multiply that by a hundred, and then you’re kind of getting close. We kicked things off discussing where Archer and her career intersect with web culture and then transitioned into some quick-fire questions for pop culture enthusiasts. The interview has been edited for length.
First off, I just want to say congrats on the success of your podcast (Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler). Is that something you’ve wanted to do for a while? Or did you just wake up one morning thinking, “Man, I think I would be awesome at podcasting”?
I had wanted to do it for a while, it was just a question of finding a window. I’m super lucky that I am so busy, but it was just about finding time to get it established and the opportunity presented itself at Comic-Con last year. Having a lot people who would be perfect for the show all in one spot I was able to kind of do a lot of interviews right at the beginning to give the show the running start that it needed.
It was also finding what was the show going to be. Not just wanting to do “a podcast,” but really wanting to figure out what my show was going to be and want I wanted to do with it. Because there are a lot of people with podcasts out there and if you’re not doing something that feels different, that feels kind of personal, there’s really no point. I just wanted to make a little podcast to see if I liked it and I LOVED it. I’m just super stoked that people are responding too it so well.
I’m sure you’re aware of the internet’s obsession with Archer. Quoting lines, sharing media. Is web response something you guys actively discuss when making the show?
Oh, no. I don’t think we think at all about how people are going to respond on the internet. I think we try to just make the funniest show we can. Maybe in the deep recesses of (show creator Adam Reed)’s mind he’s thinking about web response. As it’s evolved it has kind of developed its own lexicon because we have developed our own way of relating to each other, and because it’s an office comedy. Like any office, things tend to recur. I think in the end with comedy you’re just trying to be funny. That’s all you think about.
Have you seen any of the Lana Kane fan appreciation out there? Images, videos, lots of cosplay.
I’ve seen some of the cosplayers, yeah. There were a bunch of them at the con last year. That was super fun. I haven’t particularly been following it that closely, but it’s great. I’ve seen some fan art. It’s probably best not to look at a lot of your own fan art. You’re eventually going to stick your hand in something that you don’t like. But it’s great. I’m thrilled people love her so much. I love her. I think she’s awesome. I’m so glad that people like her.
We’re big fans of the “Yup & Nope” YouTube compilation.
Yeah. All the mashups, those are great.
Is there an Archer line or joke or reference you get more than others, in person or on Twitter? Something people just repeat all the time?
You know, I think the ones that recur — after “Yup,” which is obviously the #1 thing I get — that aren’t mine like “sh*t snacks” and “that’s how you get ants” come up quite a bit. Obviously, “Danger Zone” is a big one. That’s probably #2 after “Yup.” People just can’t get enough of throwing around “Danger Zone!”
I wasn’t sure if anyone had the balls to bring up the “veal cutlet” line to you.
Just the other day someone tweeted that her mother yelled that out the door to get a telemarketer to go away. That her “vulva is as smooth as veal cutlet” and apparently it was very effective.
Does Adam Reed clue you guys into all the obscure references or do you have to figure those out for yourself?
For a long time I didn’t know what the Johnny Bench reference was. I knew who Johnny Bench was but we were having a hard time figuring out exactly what that meant. I remember asking Adam and he was like, “I don’t really know what it means either.”
So sometimes these references are just thrown into the show because they make Adam laugh or they make one of us laugh. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes they’re more layered. If you ask him he’ll tell you. He’s never like, “No, I want it to stay a mystery.” That doesn’t happen. We’re like, “Who is this guy?” or “What does this mean?” and he’ll tell us off the bat.
Do you have a favorite running gag?
Hmm…that’s a really good question. I don’t know. We have such a different relationship to the show than the fans do in the sense that when we’re laying everything down we’re not seeing it happen. We’re just doing the lines. So I personally am just super focused on making the lines as funny as they can be. I’m not thinking as to how everything is going to be executed in the end. I’m more like, “How can I make this particular line hilarious?”
I will say that when I watch the show I always love when Pam and Cheryl and Ray Gillette are sitting in the kitchen, in the break room, and Pam is always eating out of a crock pot. And Ray always has a really expensive bento box that looks like it’s a seventy dollar lunch that he’s eating. I don’t know why but those are the details I look at. They’re in like the sh*ttiest office kitchen and there’s a crappy vending machine behind them and Ray is eating sushi and Pam is eating Dinty Moore beef stew out of a crock pot. I always really like that.
Are you guys all together when you record everything?
We’re never together.
Oh, that’s amazing. I would have assumed you would all have to be there together for it to play as well as it does.
That’s just the Hollywood magic.
That kind of bleeds into my next question. Does your standup background play into voice acting? All of you guys seem to have timing and cadence down to a science.
None of my standup really makes its way into the show other than my sense of humor is coincidentally close to the style of the show. And I guess that’s why they wanted me for the role. But nothing about my standup, not even the way I perform or my cadence or my standup bleeds into the show.
Lana is a character, she’s her own kind of person. The show is so funny when it’s written and it’s my job to find out the funniest way to say something. So maybe just my nature as a comedic actor comes into it, but other than that, no. We all are trying to find the funniest way to execute our characters and then it’s the job of the geniuses at Archer to lay that together so it feels like we’re having an actual conversation.
I have to ask, because I know our readers will want to know — do you get any input on Lana’s outfits? Animated outfits, I should say.
No. Other than people wish that I would wear them in real life. I tell them that that will never happen.
You must get that all the time.
Oh constantly, of course. (Laughing.) Also, it’s not meta to dress up like your own television character. It’s sad. I’ve never done it and in all likelihood never will.
Will you get to or have you hung out with Burt Reynolds at all?
Oh no. None of us have. Magical TV angelhood. He just slid in, did he stuff with Adam, and slid out. And Adam’s not even here. Adam’s in Atlanta so we do all our stuff over a T1 line.
News also just broke that Bryan Cranston will be doing a guest stint this season.
Yeah. He’s already recorded his role. It’s great. That season finale is hilarious. It’s going to be fantastic.
Any other guest stars or notable personalities we should look out for?
I wish I was somebody with encyclopedic memory so I could just rattle that stuff off the top of my head. Obviously having Burt is going to be really exciting. And getting Bryan is great.
You know, you end up having blinders on a little bit. You go in and you’re making your part of the show, and then I have 42 other jobs and then I skitter away to kind of half-assedly deliver the other work I have to deliver every day. But I’m always excited and surprised when someone really great comes on so I’m looking forward to finding out who’s going to be there.
I find myself on IMDb all the time while watching trying to place a voice.
Yeah. Exactly. And we’ve had some great guests. David Cross and obviously all the people from Arrested Development. It’s great because the show now has such a great fanbase we’re able to get people like Bryan Cranston and Burt Reynolds. It’s been very, very cool.
Speaking of your other gigs, do your Talk co-hosts plan on watching Archer this season?
I don’t know. I don’t know if any of them have watched it yet. Everybody has kind of secondary projects and we’re all super supportive of each other so I will encourage them to do so and see what they think. Julie and Sharon I think would love it the most. Actually, all the women have really great senses of humor. I think they would all really like it.
They come in the next day asking all like, “What is this Whore Island?”
If you’ve ever seen Sheryl’s act. I’m pretty blue and she could beat me in an octagon smack down. And all the other women are super salty and hilarious. I think “Whore Island” would barely register.
Now for the lightning round. We’ve polled some of our guys and hardcore fans for quick questions to toss at you…
Do you have Truckasaurus hands?
No, they’re delicate, and elegant, and long enough to knit a sweater using nothing but my fingers.
Would you ever take a transatlantic flight on a blimp?
No I would not. I would not ride to the corner on a blimp.
If you could voice another Archer character, who would it be?
Pam. Her character is just epic. I love everything she does and everything she says.
Yeah, she’s creeping into the #1 spot for a lot of people.
I’m happy to hear it. I’ll give her 2 and 3 as well. So funny. So edgy. Just so fully herself. The episode where she got kidnapped and beat the crap out of everybody. Took her shirt off and had that huge Lord Byron tattoo on her back. She’s just so great.
Can you do the Lana Stinkeye?
I’m going to look that up while we’re talking. (Mouse clicking.) Let’s see. Here we go. Oh, this is the vulva line. (Clicks and hums.) I mean, if the question is whether I can make a face like Lana I think the answer is yes. Let me try “stink+eye,” two words instead of one word. See if that gets me anything. (More clicking.) Oh, I could absolutely do the Lana Stinkeye.
We know you’re a gamer, what video game are you currently playing?
I took a little break over the holidays. Actually over the holidays – this is so humiliating to say out loud – we played “Just Dance.” We were with my nieces.
We’re doing the DLC for “Gears 3.” I’m still a third of my way into my 80 hours of “Fallout: New Vegas.” And what do we have on deck? We still haven’t played “Portal 2.” I’m usually a shooter so it takes a lot for me to play a non-shooting game. So “Portal 2,” and then “Black Ops,” and then “Modern Warfare 3.”
Next one: Ross or Joey?
You must get that a lot.
ALL the time. Greg Kinnear!
Jack Bauer or Gil Grissom?
Oh god, Jack Bauer.
Sterling Archer or James Bond?
Sterling Archer. Well…yeah, Sterling Archer. At least he’s honest about what a douchebag alcoholic he is, right? Although I will say Daniel Craig-James Bond kinda beats Archer. Old James Bond, Sterling Archer. New James Bond, Daniel Craig.
Are you planning on defending your Celebrity Jeopardy crown?
I really need to. You know, because I was the champ and then I got brutalized by Cheech Marin, which is about as humiliating as it comes. If they asked me back I would definitely go back because I love, love, love doing work for charity. I would study harder this time. Probably not be hungover, that would be good too.
Last thing. My colleague, Cajun Boy, wanted me to make sure I let you know that years back he was bedridden after back surgery and late night episodes of 5th Wheel were one of the few things that kept him going. So a big thank you from him.
That is so sweet. Tell him I said thank you very much. I hope his back is better.
“Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler” is currently the #2 comedy podcast on iTunes. Aisha will be touring this spring and summer. New standup dates are added all the time. She’s also in the new upcoming Jay Chandrasekhar movie, The Babymakers, co-starring Oliva Munn, Paul Schneider (Mark from Parks & Rec sighting!), and some of the guys from Broken Lizard. Huge thanks to Aisha for making the time for the interview.