If it seems like Aisha Tyler, the actress and comedian, is suddenly everywhere, it’s because she has a simple secret.
“Lack of sleep,” she said in a phone interview in advance of her trip to Austin to host the South by Southwest Interactive Awards on Tuesday night. “That is it. (I’m) painfully, squintingly, headachey tired. I’m pretty happy and insanely sleep-deprived.”
Tyler’s workload is epic, the kind of slate that might have made Hercules quit while he was ahead. She is perhaps best known among tech geeks as the voice of Lana Kane, a voice of reason in an office of fools, on the hit animated FX show “Archer.” She’s also one of the hosts of “The Talk” on CBS, and on the day of our interview, was revealed to be the new host for a rebooted “Whose Line is it Anyway?” filling Drew Carey’s role as ringmaster of the improv series that will star the original cast of the U.S. version.
She continues to perform stand-up comedy, makes a regular interview podcast, “Girl on Guy,” and does guest appearances frequently on shows like “Hawaii Five-O” and “Talking Dead,” where she proved extremely knowledgeable about zombies in a discussion of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
Her whirlwind trip to Austin will include a red-eye flight into town, podcast recordings, panel appearances, two stand-up sets and, oh yeah, the Interactive Awards, which will be streamed free online at sxsw.com.
She’ll fly out at 6 a.m. Wednesday, missing most of the fest to get back to work.
“I had this big plan to be at SXSW all week, hang out, eat BBQ until I got fat and constipated,” she said. “All of my SXSW dreams have been crushed to dust because of my work schedule. I’m gonna come and leave like a bad ghost.”
Tyler has been performing stand-up comedy for about 20 years and she’s managed the trick of removing the filter from her brain to her mouth (which she discussed recently in a cross-podcast discussion with Kevin Smith, another great talker). Yet what comes out of her mouth at fast volume all sounds clever, quick and extremely well thought-out.
Her podcast, completely self-produced, is a marvel of verbal acuity and is both hilarious and refreshingly honest and blunt. It has spawned her second book, the upcoming “Self-Inflicted Wounds.” And she’s planning to direct a movie soon, too.
For her hosting gig, she’ll try to keep things moving so as “not to luxuriate in the sound of my own voice” and won’t overplan. “I wish I was the kind of person who walked around with a pocket full of strategy,” she said.
She says she’s interested in technology, but only to the degree that it can help her work and make her a better artist. “I like technology, but I wouldn’t say I’m in the 1 percent early adopter group. I’m in the 5 percent who wait for version 2.0 and all the bugs to be worked out.”
The TV and online star says she’s thrilled to be doing so many creative things and is “super fulfilled” by all the projects she works on. All that’s missing? “I would love to get a little more sleep.”