Pity poor Aisha Tyler. No, not because she was forced to play love scenes with David Schwimmer on Friends, nor because she had to endure my-wife-has-a-meat-fetish clips from Jerry Springeras the host of cable's Talk Soup. Rather -- as Redd Foxx, Tim Allen and Bob Saget have found out before her -- she's bound to offend some fans of her wholesome TV persona with her more mature stand-up routine.
"Comedy is an adult art form, so when people bring their kids to the show because my character was so sweet and quiet on Friends, I'm thinking... it's not a kid's show!" Tyler laughs. "I feel bad at first, but in my act I talk about things you would with your friends while drinking in a bar -- and that's nota PG-13 show."
The 33-year-old "six-foot mocha bonbon with a sense of humor" (according to Playboy.com) honed her act for more than a decade before her first cup of overpriced coffee at the Central Perk. She says her favorite comedians are conversational. "I don't like the ones who go, 'So I walked into an airport today. What's up with flying?' " she says, unafraid of alienating old Jerry Seinfeld. "I also do a lot of improv with the audience. It would be soul-crushing to do the same thing every night."
And though she also appeared in Showtime with Robert De Niro and on Curb Your Enthusiasm as Shaquille O'Neal's girlfriend, Tyler says working with big names is hardly intimidating in comparison to stand-up.
"Stand-up comedy is intimidating," she says. "Being in front of a room with 500 people and trying to make them laugh for an hour with nothing to fall back on -- after that, De Niro is not that big a deal."
If there's one dividend of Tyler's rising profile, it's the increased presence of her stunningly gorgeous self on the Internet. There are lots of online shrines to her, and she and her husband have made cyberspace's list of "hot interracial couples." The object of this affection -- and free publicity -- can't keep up with all the posts and sites, but she keeps it in perspective.
"It would drive you nuts if you worried about that all day. But imagine if people at their daily office jobs got that kind of attention for their every move," she says. "You'd have angry people who didn't like the way you photocopied something or commenting on your sexy PowerPoint presentation. It's weird!"
Tyler -- who does stand-up about one weekend a month -- will certainly be busy over the next few months. In addition to preparing the paperback edition of her book Swerve: Reckless Observations of a Postmodern Girl and pitching TV pilots, she's also planning to produce and star in an action film she wrote.
The former political science major at Dartmouth also is keeping a close eye on the presidential election, which she thinks will be the "most polarizing" ever. "It's gonna be contentious," she says. Maybe even worse than a catfight between Monica and Rachel.