Arts Flash: Q&A with Aisha Tyler

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Aisha Tyler is probably best known for her time as the pipin’ hot host of Talk Soup, or for her lengthy list of TV appearances on popular shows like Friends, Ghost Whisperer, CSI, 24, and Nip/Tuck, among others. In her most recent TV endeavor, she lends her voice for the character of super spy Lana Kane on the FX animated series Archer.

Tyler also performs stand-up comedy when her hefty schedule permits. Currently embarking on tour in promotion of her newest DVD, titled Aisha Tyler is Lit: Live at The Fillmore, she’ll stop in Charlotte for a performance at McGlohon Theatre on Feb. 14 and Cornelius for a performance at Lake Norman Comedy Zone on Feb. 15. Creative Loafing spoke with Tyler about her career choices, as well as what can be expected at her stand-up shows.

Creative Loafing: You’re currently doing the voice for the character Lana Kane on the animated TV show Archer. What’s that like?

Aisha Tyler: Well, I have done a good number of animated parts already; a show called the The Boondocks that Aaron McGruder created for Adult Swim, shows for the Disney channel, and also a big Disney movie, The Wild. So, I’ve done a good amount, but this is the first time I have done a series. It’s great. It’s much easier than regular TV. You don’t have to do hair and make-up and you just get to go into a booth. The workload is cake, and it’s really fun actually.

How is that working right now with your comedy tour kicking off?

We finished all the episodes for this season. But, what’s great about voice-overs is that as long as you have access to a high quality sound booth in any city, we’re able to do it from any part of the country. So, it’s not too difficult.

Early in your career, did you first want to be a comedian or did you aspire more to be an actress?

No, I didn’t really aspire to be any of those things. I wanted to be an attorney. I have an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in political science and I was going to go to law school actually. In between undergraduate and law school, I just realized that I just didn’t love working in an office and I wanted to do something more creative. Really, I just kind of fell into. I wanted to try something, so I tried comedy and I fell in love with it over night. But, it definitely wasn’t what I dreamed of being, as a kid I had definite plans of being an attorney.

You’ve been very busy with projects in the TV world, but it seems you’re coming back to focus on your comedy now. What caused you to switch gears from TV to comedy?

Well, it never really stopped actually. I started out and was doing stand-up. When I moved to L.A. and I was doing Talk Soup, I was still doing stand-up. I’ve always continued to do stand-up, but I had so much other work that it was hard for me to tour because I really couldn’t leave L.A. for an extended period of time. But, actually I’ve been touring pretty consistently for the past three years. I shot a comedy special at the end of 2008 and I toured all year getting ready for that and it came out in 2009. So, it wasn’t anything that I ever gave up, it was just that I had a lot of projects that demanded a lot of time. When I left Ghost Whisper and I had a break in my two-week schedule, I was just able to refocus on it.

Let's talk about Aisha Tyler is Lit: Live at the Fillmore. Is this your first comedy DVD or have you had others?

That was my first one. I’ve done quite a bit of television, but never had the time to tour constantly for the kind of time you need to put in for developing an hour for TV. I’ve just been doing television series’ and I’ve never had a big break in time to work on it. So, as soon as I had the time I got to it.

In your current stand-up show, what kinds of topics do you focus on?

It’s kind of hard to define my act. It’s very different than what I think people typically expect from a comedian like me. It’s very guy friendly, edgy and it’s for adults. I talk a lot about being married, because I’ve been married for 15 years. I talk about what most married people are obsessed with, which is sex and how they’re not getting any. So, I talk a lot about that and about all kinds of stuff. I have a huge guy following. A lot of guys come with their wives because they want to go see a girl comic. Then, they end up being some of my biggest fans because the show is just very tense, very high energy and very muscular. I think guys and women like it equally.

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