Four days a week, Aisha Tyler works as co-host of "The Talk" on CBS Daytime. Every other week, she steps up to the microphone to voice the character of Lana Kane in the animated show "Archer." And on the weekends, she hops on a plane to perform her stand-up show (she's at the Baltimore Comedy Factory this weekend), or perhaps make an appearance at a Comic-Con.
Somewhere in there, she also finds time for her podcast," Girl on Guy," and to host the new version of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" Oh, and she has a new book out, "Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation."
"It's nice to be self-employed, but it just means that no one else can do anything for you," she said. "So I work all day every day. Occasionally, you don't sleep."
We spoke with Tyler about her new hosting gig, the perks of voice acting and advice from Eddie Murphy.
With such a full plate, why do you still make time for stand-up?
Well I love it. It's how I got started. This is my 21st year doing stand-up, so it's in my blood and it's the very first thing I did as a professional artist. But also, I did a movie with Eddie Murphy years ago and I was asking him if he was ever going to get back to stand-up, and he said, "It's a muscle and if you stop working it out, it atrophies. You always have to stay sharp and never let it go." I took that advice to heart. But I love doing it — I really love it.
How did the opportunity to host the revamped "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" come about?
They called on the phone and asked if I wanted to host the new "Whose Line." It was pretty much a no-brainer. I loved the original show. I'm really good friends with Wayne Brady. I'm also very good friends with Drew [Carey]. It was a huge honor to take over for him, huge shoes to fill. It's just a brand that people love. It was on the air for over a decade. People have been watching those episodes on YouTube, and it's been amazing. All the episodes are already shot and are just airing now, but it was such a fun time and I laughed my head off. I think there's two kinds of comedians — comedians that don't laugh at anything and comedians who laugh at everything, and I'm definitely a person who loves to be around comedians and comedy. I had an amazing, amazing time.
You voice Lane Kane on the popular animated show "Archer" on FX. What is the best part of working on "Archer"?
Not having to go through hair and makeup. That's the easiest part. I've done so many other things that it's nice just to show up and try to be funny. Probably the best thing is, I really love the people that I make the show with. I don't get to see them very much at all actually. We were actually at Comic-Con lamenting that we might not see each other again until January. But when we do get together, we love each other's company — we just have a lot of drinks and talk a lot of s — —.
Can you tell me about your new book "Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation" and why you wrote it?
I have a podcast — it's called "Girl on Guy." I've had it for a couple years and it has over 7 million downloads. It's interviewing different people — sometimes comedians, writers, actors, athletes — about their work and how they've gotten to be the artist or the person that they are. Then I always have them tell a "self-inflicted-wound" story at the end of the show, where they talk about something that's gone wrong in their life. The whole point is that people kind of look at successful people and think, "Oh, they're perfect. They're magical. They fell out of the sky this way," and those stories just humanize them and kind of show people that they're human and everybody makes mistakes.
After two years of having my guests do that, I thought it would be a good idea for me to do so. The book is just a fun collection of stories of all the stupid stuff I've done, but if people get some kind of idea from the book that it's OK to get out there and do what you want to do and fail and learn from it, hopefully it makes you stronger and more mentally tough.
From "The Talk" to "Girl on Guy," you have a lot of diversity in the projects you are working on.
Part of it is that you take work that is available to you and that you like. I'm not Tom Cruise. I can't just be like, "I'd like to do my next film with Steven Spielberg and get him on the phone." I think people in Hollywood — the power really lies in what you say no to, not necessarily what you say yes to. And then artistic, too — "I read the script, it was hilarious and I wanted to be a part of it." What's nice about all of that diversity is that it all speaks to a different audience and they compliment each other, and so, as a whole, I'm lucky that maybe my tripod maybe has five legs instead of three.
Do you have any connections to Baltimore?
A few years ago, I spent some time shadowing a director on the set of "The Wire," so I got to hang out in Baltimore for a week while they were shooting that and hang out with the actors. That was a pretty incredible experience — just some of the most amazing, talented people I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with in this business. I will never forget that time. It was really extraordinary.
If you go
Aisha Tyler performs at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Saturday at the Baltimore Comedy Factory, 6 Market Place in Power Plant Live. Tickets are $22-$30. Call 410-547-7798 or go to baltimorecomedy.com.
It can be hard to keep track of all of Aisha Tyler's many projects. Here is a breakdown.
'Whose Line is it Anyway?' — When the CW brought back this hit improvisational comedy show, Tyler was chosen as host.
'The Talk' — Created by Sara Gilbert, this talk show airs on CBS and features co-hosts Tyler, Sharon Osbourne and Sheryl Underwood.
'Archer' — Tyler voices the dry-witted Lana Kane, a former girlfriend of title character Sterling Archer.
'Girl on Guy' — Tyler interviews athletes, actors and other celebrities on this popular podcast, which has more than 7 million downloads.
'Self-Inflicted Wounds' — In July, Tyler released this book, whose full title is "Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation." It's a compilation of silly mistakes Tyler has made, which she hopes will inspire readers to try, fail and try again.