Aisha Tyler talks standup, Archer, winning Halloween before Friday's Wits

Categories: Comedy
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Aisha Tyler can do anything. 

Five days a week, she's one-fifth of the CBS daytime gab-fest, The Talk. Beginning in January, she'll begin her fifth season as the voice of super-spy Lana Kane on Archer. Oh, and she's been a successful standup comic for over 20 years.

Tomorrow night, the writer/actress/comedian/podcaster will make her first-ever Wits appearance alongside musical guest Loudon Wainright III. Earlier this week, we talked with Tyler about her insanely busy schedule, her future plans in comedy, and how to pull off the ultimate Archer Halloween costume (YUUUUUUUUP).

Do you have any idea what to expect from Wits this Friday?

I really don't. I'm a big public radio listener, and I've gone back and listened to some of the past Wits shows, but this going to be a fresh, unraveling experience for me.

Is the live performance aspect still something you enjoy?

Absolutely; it's how I got my start. This is my 21st year as a standup, and it keeps me going. Years ago I talked with Eddie Murphy about him going back on the road, and he said, "Comedy is a muscle and if you stop working it out, it atrophies." Doing The Talk five days a week keeps me busy, but in that setting you're part of a five-hander so I can relax sometimes and there are other people there to carry some of the work. Being onstage alone for 60 or 90 minutes let's you relax and be yourself. 

With having so many different personalities, whether it's working on The Talk or Archer or standup, is it tough to go back and forth between which types of Aisha you are when you're doing live shows?

For me, it's all sort of the same job. When I was writing on Talk Soup, or working on Friends, or anything else I've done, it's all the same aspects of the job. The only challenge for me when it comes to live performance is knowing my content rating and making sure I stick to it. Luckily, being a standup I'm used to coming into town and doing radio first thing in the mornings, so I know how to keep it family-friendly.

So you start the day family-friendly and get more vulgar once you get into the evening?

Exactly. I think everyone kind of lives their lives like that.

Of all the shows you're on, who has the craziest fanbase? 

Archer fans are rabid. Talk fans are so sweet and they love the show, but Archer fans will watch an episode eight, nine, 10 times in a row. They'll come to my shows completely dressed up as the characters and yelling out lines from the show.

Since Halloween is this week and you've seen some pretty sweet Archer costumes, any tips for people who are thinking of dressing up like Lana and company?

Archer characters really aren't that hard. All you really need is a bunch of 60's clothes, which I think everyone has anyways because of the hipster craze. We were recently in New York the same weekend as Comic-Con and I saw quite a few Hologram Brides, but the coolest thing was when there would be a whole crew dressed up as all of the characters. I think some people are scared to dress up like Gillette because they don't want to roll around in a wheelchair all night, but I think the key is going as a group.

What are your big plans for your pre-Wits Halloween?

I don't dress up, but I do hand out candy. It's very important that I win Halloween every year so I'm the house that gives out the full-sized candy bars. I look at it like I dress up in costumes so much for work, why would I do it in my free time? 

IF YOU GO:

Wits
Featuring Aisha Tyler and music guest Loudon Wainright III
Fitzgerald Theater
8 p.m. Friday, November 1
$35-$45
To find out more about Wits, check out witsradio.org.

Can't make it to the show? To hear this episode of Wits, tune in to MPR News Saturday, November 9 or 89.3 the Current, Sunday, November 10.

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1 comments
calenti
calenti

What a beautiful and funny lady. Had a crush on her since the days of "Talk Soup". One of her best lines (I'm sure it's not hers but it's the first place I ever heard it): "tragedy plus time equals comedy".

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