Actor/comedian Aisha Tyler doesn't take requests when she's on stage. "I know people have their favorite jokes so I understand when they ask for something but I'm not a rock band, I don't do the same thing over and over. I don't get up and do "Freebird" as an encore. I have a foggy plan in my head of what I want to do when I go onstage, but really I want every show to be fresh. I want to surprise the audience and surprise myself every time I walk out there."
Tyler's attitude doesn't stop audience members from shouting out requests or even lines when she's performing. "People do yell things out when I'm on stage and I ignore them wholeheartedly. I always tell them - 'Relax. I've got jokes. Sit back and have a drink. I'm prepared to entertain you for an hour, hour and a half so you don't have to worry about the show. I've got it well in hand.' If they really want to hear a joke from five years ago, they should go buy the DVD. That way they can sit on their couch in their underwear and rewind to their heart's content."
Tyler is very busy these days and she likes it that way. Along with her stand-up tour, she's hosting/producing her popular podcast Girl on Guy and she has three television gigs. (Tyler co-hosts the CBS daytime talk show The Talk, hosts the improv comedy show Whose Line is It Anyway and voice the character Lana Kane for the f/x comedy Archer.) She also manages her various social media accounts. "Every thing you see on Facebook and Twitter, I do myself. Every post, every tweet is me. I think that there's an unspoken tacit agreement online that when you interact wit a celebrity online, it's actually that celebrity. But more than that, I'm a comedian and no one else can write in my voice. I hired a writer 15 years ago and they were a fine writer, but I realized I'm my best writer. It needs to feel, to the audience and to me, that whatever I'm saying is real and for that I need to be the one tweeting or posting."
The workload can make for a grueling schedule, but Tyler says she enjoys it. "I'm a workaholic and I know it. I'm able to admit that I'm happiest when I feel like I'm about to pass out from being so tired."
Tyler, who was last in Houston more than five years ago, says there's nothing off-limits in her stand-up. "Everything is game in comedy. It's really about intention and not about subject matter. The reason that we as a species developed the ability to laugh, in part I think, was to deal with those times when we are in complete and utter despair so nothing is off limits. It's your intention when you talk about something that makes it offensive or not. The same topic can be okay in one situation and not okay in another. That's not because of the topic, but because of the intent."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Aisha Tyler performs at 8 p.m. on April 12 at the House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. For information, call 888-402-5837 or visit houseofblues.com. $25.25.