Aisha Tyler, host of the brand new “Whose Line Is It Anyway”, is performing at The Wilbur Theatre on Saturday, April 19, and it’s a wonder the comedian, actress, author, director and activist can find the time to tour. Known for voicing the superspy character Lana Kane on FX’s hit comedy “Archer”, Tyler is one of the hardest-working women in entertainment.
Tyler wears many hats: she’s the co-host of CBS’s daily show “The Talk” and is currently busy filming the second season of “Whose Line”, which will premiere on March 21, in which she has expertly filled the shoes of former host Drew Carey. Tyler is also taping a new Ryan Murphy (“Glee”, “American Horror Story”) pilot for HBO entitled “Open”, which is about non-monogamous relationships. Add to that her 2013 New York Times best-seller, Self Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation, and an award-winning podcast, and it’s clear to see why Tyler is one of the most sought-after talents performing today.
Tyler recently took the time to speak with the Boston Comedy Scene Examiner about her career and upcoming performance in Boston.
BCSE: Hi, Aisha. How are you?
AT: Good, how are you?
BCSE: Good, good, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today.
AT: No problem.
BCSE: So, I have to say, you are one impressive woman. Is there anything you can’t do?
AT: I’m sure there are hundreds of things I can’t do. My husband would be happy to enumerate them all for you in great detail. But I don’t know, just because I can’t do something doesn’t mean I won’t try. I think I’m just one of those people who likes to go for it and see how things wash out.
BCSE: And it seems like things wash out very well for you.
AT: Just okay.
BCSE: So, congratulations on 'Whose Line'!
AT: Oh, thank you!
BCSE: I know that lot of people are so excited to have it back.
AT: Me too! I am one of those people, absolutely.
BCSE: Now, how was it to come into that and take that role over?
AT: Well, I was a fan of both of the original shows, the British show and the first American version, and I’ve been friends with both Wayne and Drew for a really long time, so it was exciting. It was a lot of pressure as well to take over for Drew. People really love him. He’s a good friend of mine. It was very large shoes to fill, and I knew that there would be certain faction of fans that would be like, ‘Oh, you know, she’s not Drew’. And I’m not Drew, because I don’t have a penis - at least not one that’s attached to my body, so I just had to come in and be myself and make it my own. Hopefully what fans have realized over the first season and now coming into the second one, is that I really love the show, that I’m a fan too, and that I’m as excited to be there as they are. And so, for me, it’s just pure joy, to go to that place and I really haven’t gone in with any other strategy but to just have a good time, and hopefully that’s communicating to the people that are watching the show.
BCSE: Awesome. Now, you’ve got two books under your belt?
BCSE: Very cool. Any plans for more?
AT: Well, this one’s still just out in hardback so I’m going to let this one settle a little bit. But, yeah, I’m sure I’ll write more. I’m sure every author would say this that every book they write, the next is a little easier to write, and they get more clarity, and your style refines. So, I’m sure, but I‘ve a lot on my plate right now, so that’s not going to be happening for a little while.
AT: But, yeah, for sure.
BCSE: That’s great. I love your work on “Archer”. I’m a huge fan of that show.
AT: Thank you, me too.
BCSE: Now tell me, in terms of your stand-up, will we see a special from you in the near future?
AT: Yeah, actually I’ve been ready to shoot a special for awhile and the main issue for me just has been finding the time. Because it’s not just the hour that you shoot the special, you really have to tour constantly, but getting ready in the three months leading up to a special you just need to be out, touring constantly, so that by the time you get up there on that stage to tape it, you just feel bulletproof. And I am very lucky to be as busy as I am, but as a result, I have not been able to tour as consistently as I would like to. You get out like one weekend a month, but for my last special I was on stage every night for six weeks. So we have to find a month where I’m not doing three TV shows at one time. And then we’ll shoot it. I’m hoping it happens this year, or worst case scenario, early 2015. But I’m definitely going to do another special for sure. When people come to see me live all the material is new. It’s nothing they’ve seen on TV before, nothing they’ve seen in my previous specials and it’s always evolving. Every show’s different. And I have fans who will come see me on a Friday, then come see me again on the Saturday because every show is its own animal. I really go out there with a little bit of a plan, but I always like to surprise myself on stage and then they can feel different and unique for each audience that’s there. So, definitely a special coming up but for people that are coming to see me now, it’s a totally fresh show.
BCSE: Awesome. And you’re coming to Boston in a couple weeks.
AT: I’m super-excited, yeah.
BCSE: Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Now are you going to be bringing anybody with you or are you going to go with a local feature?
AT: Well, the guy that tours with me all the time, and he usually opens with me, and I’m not sure if he’s going to be to Boston this trip, but he’s brilliant, so if he’s there, you’ll love him. I have a guy that opened for me on my comedy special and he tours with me constantly. He’s pretty freakin’ amazing.
BCSE: Awesome, awesome. Who’s that?
AT: His name is Ali Mafi, and he’s just this adorable, twenty-five year old, fat, gay, Iranian kid. Just a genius.
BCSE: Wonderful. So, let’s say a newbie comic were to ask you, ‘what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in your comedy career, that you could pass onto somebody just starting out’. What would that be?
AT: Well, I write a lot about it in my book actually, about how I got into comedy and the things that have been instructive to me over time. I’m going into my twenty-second year doing stand-up, so I think the best advice to a comedian is to persevere. I think people expect overnight success, and they assume that the people that they admire who are successful had overnight success, but by the time we all heard about Dave Chappelle, he’d been doing stand-up for ten years.
AT: And it just takes time. It absolutely, 100%, takes time and there’s no way around that. There are no shortcuts. Even guys who think they’re naturally funny and everybody at the office loves their jokes, and everybody’s always told them they were hilarious, I don’t care. Just because you can beat your friends in a sprint on the playground does not make you an Olympic athlete. There’s just no substitute for time, stage time, as much stage time as you can possibly get. You have to be relentless.
BCSE: Absolutely, couldn’t agree more. And we get a lot of that in the Boston scene where people, especially being in Boston, so many names have come out of it, that I think that the younger generation expects that instant gratification.
AT: Yeah, and when I was young I thought, ‘Yeah, people don’t see, they’re not recognizing how funny I am, and how talented I am’. And the guys that mentored me were like, ‘You just have to keep getting up’. And I look back and they were right. They were all right. I just had Tom Rhodes on my show and I was giving him a hard time, because that was the advice he gave me when I was a baby comic and I remember being really irritated with him. And then I’ve been able to tell him now, that was the best advice anybody could have given me, was to keep getting up over and over again.
BCSE: Very wise. With all of the things that you do and are so good at, what’s something you’ve been wanting to try that you haven’t yet?
AT: Oh. Well, I really want to direct features; that’s probably the thing I’m going to try to do in a few years. I’ve directed a lot of short pieces. Some of those turned out great. Some have sucked. But that’s definitely a big focus for me in the next five or ten years is directing a feature film. And I’ve done a bunch of rock videos, a couple videos for Clutch, Silversun Pickups. I definitely want to do more of that because that’s really fun for me. Just an awesome sidebar project.
AT: Yeah, but I’d definitely like to do more of that.
BCSE: Very cool. Well, I have to say that I’m very envious of your professional life and definitely keep doing what you’re doing.
AT: Thank you.
BCSE: And thank you so much for chatting with me. I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, but we’re looking forward to having you in town.
AT: I’m super-excited. Thank you so much.
BCSE: My pleasure. Take care and we’ll see you in Boston.
Don’t miss Aisha Tyler on Saturday, April 19 as she headlines Boston’s The Wilbur Theatre at 7:00 p.m. In honor of April being Stand Up Month, the first sixty people to arrive for Tyler’s show will receive a $5 gift card for CC: Stand Up Direct good for one digital download. We’re also giving one lucky winner a pair of tickets to the show along with a sweet prize pack from Comedy Central. Find out how to win at the Boston Comedy Scene Examiner’s Facebook page. The Wilbur is located at 246 Tremont Street in Boston’s Historic Theater District. Tickets are $25 and are available online.