You probably know Aisha Tyler as an actress, comedian, talk show host, author or a mixture of all of the above. But did you know she’s also a comic book fan? We recently caught up with her to see what has been going on with voicing Lana Kane on “Archer Vice,” how the X-Men had an effect on her life and much more!
Marvel.com: You’ve mentioned before that you were into comics. How did you get into them in the first place?
Aisha Tyler: Well I was a very lonely child with a very small trickle of friends. That’s how it started [Laughs]. I grew up without a television; I was a big reader. I loved books. I was really into fantasy and sci-fi as a kid. Kind of an obsessive flashlight under the covers, sit on the bus until you look up and realize that you missed your stop two hours ago kind of reader. I’m always a curated enthusiast so I don’t love everything. But when I was a teenager it was Teen Titans, X-Men and then Watchmen and those were the three books that I read exclusively. My mom just moved and I was going through all the stuff she saved of mine and [Laughs] I found all these super early editions books from my early collection, which was really fun to do. And I bid them all like a gold doubloon to see if they were worth money.
Marvel.com: Were they worth anything?
Aisha Tyler: They’re definitely worth something.
Marvel.com: Oh wow.
Aisha Tyler: Yeah, I’m pretty excited about it.
Marvel.com: What made you get into the X-Men?
Aisha Tyler: Storm. That seems like a little up the middle, right? But I think the thing about X-Men that I loved other than I was finally seeing myself in a comic book was I think every nerdy loner kid wants to be a super hero. I mean that’s kind of a fantasy for all kids but I think if you’re an outsider, there’s a part of you that wants to like beat up the bad kids and save the kids that are being bullied and save yourself from being bullied and you kind of see the injustice in the world because some of it’s being inflicted on you. So I always had a super hero fantasy when I was a kid and I think also because X-Men had this whole kind of outsider-ship. There was this whole kind of mythology—these kids were the rejects, you know? And I’ve been six-feet-tall since I was like eight and I was the only black kid in my school. I was super, super nerdy, super bookish, my parents were vegetarians, I was just in every way, like every possible way that I could be a pariah, I was. There was not one factor that I didn’t hit. I ate weird, I was poor, I was the only black kid, I was a giant pest, I loved comic books, I loved [Ray] Bradbury. There was just no way I wasn’t hitting the nerd button. And so for me, X-Men, this is a collection of misfits and they’re gonna save the world and I loved that mythology and I still love it to this day.
Marvel.com: What’s it like now for you since the nerd thing is kind of in?
Aisha Tyler: It’s great because in some ways this is happening on a ground level and popular culture just finally caught on. The thing that I love about it and I talk about on my podcast all the time is that the embrace of the nerd is really an embracing of authenticity. You know what I mean? The thing with nerds and the thing with me when I was a kid was at some point I realized I was never gonna be accepted and so I stopped trying. And there’s a freedom in that and that freedom is to be yourself and to stop trying to alter your behavior, your looks, the way you talk, your interests to get people to like you and when you can really fully embrace who you are however odd or misshapen, that’s when you fully inhabit your identity and it makes you, I think, braver and less needy. And so for me it sucked to be this kid that just would play alone all the time and would laugh through a compendium of sci-fi stories in a weekend, and would go to the library for fun on a Saturday and spend the whole day there looking at pathology picture books, or go to the movies at 11 in the morning. I would buy like a matinee ticket at 11 in the morning and stay at the theater all day by myself watching movies, playing video games in between movies, then seeing another movie. That was a big Saturday for me. But you know to me, that was my time to dream and it’s probably a part of why I’m in this business. And I feel like what that is, is that’s a celebration of individuality and a celebration of singularity and uniqueness. And so that’s why I love this, as false as it may be for a lot of people; like this idea of the rise of the nerd, I think it’s the idea of individuality and uniqueness is more important than fitting in and being a part of the crowd. So I love that part of it and it’s a terrible misappropriation of the whole concept of “it gets better” but it does get better. You know? And everything that made me sad as a kid made me tough as an adult.
Marvel.com: Now let’s talk about “Archer Vice.” You guys have kind of taken a bit of a 180 this season.
Aisha Tyler: Well you know Isis has always been in its own way an outsider organization. I wasn’t shocked when we found out they were gonna be disavowed by the government. They’ve always been a little bit of a janky operation [Laughs] but at the same time they’ve also been very good at what they do. It’s been really fun for me, because whenever people ask me to kind of describe the show I always say it’s kind of like James Bond meets “The Office.” It’s really an office workplace comedy and so what holds these people together isn’t espionage, it’s just their relationships with each other and their desperation and their kind of fringy aspect of the way that they move through society. So it’s been really fun. I mean they’ve always been completely unscrupulous and now we just know exactly how unscrupulous. But the fact that all bets are off this year and they’re trying to make money by selling cocaine is one of the biggest jokes of genius ever. And it’ll be really interesting to see if they try to come back in from the cold, what they try to do, if they try to go legitimate. It’s an amazing season and I think people are really going to love it right up to very last moment, which was pretty extraordinary.
Marvel.com: I’ve asked the other cast members what they hope for with their character. For example, Amber Nash said she hopes Pam gets fat again. What do you hope to see from Lana in the future?
Aisha Tyler: Yeah, Pam is hotter when she’s fat. I agree with Amber. What do I hope from Lana? I mean, it’s really hard for me because I think Lana took a really grownup step to become a mother but I don’t want her to stop being a badass. So I’d like for her to find a way to continue being badass and also be a good mother. I happen to think those two things are at odds, so I think it’s gonna be really interesting to see her navigate. She’s gonna have to figure out how to have it all, which I think we finally discovered is impossible. So we’ll see, you don’t want her to be Malory [Archer]. You don’t want her to become that kind of a mother. It’s gonna be pretty interesting to see if she can stay in the field and duck live fire and also nurture her child, her impending child. So she’s screwed! I don’t know how she’s going to manage all this. I can barely make a lunch for myself in the morning. So I have no idea how she’s gonna manage that while also packing TEC-9s. But if anybody can do it she can do it.
Watch” Archer Vice” Mondays at 10pm EST on FX. Follow them on Twitter @ArcherFX and join in the conversation with #GoVice and #ArcherFX. You can also see Aisha on season two of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” beginning March 21 on ABC and listen to her podcast Girl on Guy and pick up her new book “Self-Inflicted Wounds.” And for even more Aisha, you can visit her website and follow her on Twitter at @aishatyler.