Blowing Things Up

Comedian Aisha Tyler is juggling stand-up, podcasting, hosting — and playing super spies

“People always say, ‘Have you ever bombed on stage?’ You don’t get funny until you’ve bombed miserably. Killing doesn’t make you funny; abject self-destruction makes you funny.” — Aisha Tyler, comedian and TV/Podcast host, on building character through failure.

Aisha Tyler has a résumé that won’t stop growing. The 41-year-old comedian co-hosts CBS’ daytime chat show, “The Talk”; hosts her own weekly podcast, “Girl on Guy”; and voices super-spy Lana Kane on FX’s animated comedy “Archer.” And starting Friday, she’ll be playing a non-cartoon spy on the new ReelzChannel action series “XIII.”

“I’m having a little bit of a lucky streak right now,” Tyler says.

In August, she’ll appear on the big screen with Olivia Munn in “The Babymakers,” and next spring, she releases her second book, “Self-Inflicted Wounds.”

Tyler, a regular on the stand-up circuit despite her busy schedule, spoke to Express ahead of a run at DC Improv.

“Girl on Guy” tends to focus on guy stuff. Are you a tomboy?
I was raised by a single dad, so I’m definitely a guy’s girl. My two closest friends besides my husband are both men. It just was stuff that I was into, like gaming and action movies.

“The Talk” is quite different from your podcast. Men aren’t the target audience.
I have a lot of male fans, so I think a lot of my male fans watch it. The show this year has gotten a lot more honest and edgier. … We go out and speak our minds. It’s not scripted, it’s not planned.

You haven’t done a stand-up special in years. Are you working on new material?
Once you do a special, it’s dead — you retire that material. I would hate to be the audience member being like, “I could have just been in my underwear at home watching this [expletive].” I’m doing a new comedy special in 2013.

What do you talk about?
I just talk about sex for an hour. Are you kidding me? That’s all I ever talk about. What [else] do adults care about anyway?

For “Archer,” you record your dialogue by yourself. Is that a challenge?
I really like the math of attacking a line from 20 different directions and trying to find the funniest way to say it. It’s a very different process from acting and reacting, but the show is a purely and surgically cut comedy.

And now you’re in the new ReelzChannel series “XIII.”
I play Lara Jones, who is ex-CIA and now works for the president. I keep playing spies, which I’m not going to complain about: spy on “24,” spy here. I think it’s closest in tone to a show like “24.” It’s about a black-ops agent who … gets shot in the head, wakes up and doesn’t know who he is. I used to be his lover, but now he doesn’t remember me. … It’s super action-y. Some girls dream of getting a pony when they grow up; I dream of shooting at people and blowing them up.

DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW; Fri. & Sat., 8 & 10:30 p.m., $22; 202-296-7008. (Farragut North)
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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