|Interview conducted by Lauren Berkley|
If you’re like me, you love “Archer,” the animated adult show on FX about Sterling Archer, a black tactileneck-wearing womanizing secret agent with mommy issues and a love of Kenny Loggins, who works for ISIS, the agency run by his boozehound of a mother.
“Archer” would not be the envelope-pushing, politically incorrect show that it is without the help from the supporting characters — a motley crew of ISIS employees whose hijinks and own psychological dysfunctions help, hinder, or enable Sterling Archer from episode to episode.
In light of the recent news that “Archer” was given the go-ahead for a fifth season, I sat down with my two favorite supporting cast members: Lucky Yates, who voices German mad scientist Dr. Algernop Krieger, and Amber Nash, the voice of Human Resources Representative Pam Poovey.
Over soda and trendy sandwiches, we gabbed about the show, why a bionic Helen Keller would be a bad idea, and why Night is the new Morning.
First things first: “Archer” just got the thumbs-up for a fifth season. How do you feel?
Amber Nash: I am super-excited to be working on “Archer” for Season 5. It truly is the best job in the world.
Lucky Yates: I feel fucking fantastic about it. The show keeps getting better and Krieger keeps getting weirder.
Now, here’s what I’m thrilled about: You guys are getting a line of toys and action figures! How excited are you? What can you tell us?
LY: I bet I’m more excited than Amber Nash.
AN: Yeah, yeah, you’re a bit more of a nerd.
LY: ‘Cause I’m a huge nerd, especially a toy nerd.
AN: I’m excited! I hope there’s a Pam and a Krieger.
LY: What I want is Krieger-Hologram Bride 2-pack that is like a Comic-Con exclusive.
AN: I hope that Pam has her back tattoo when you take her shirt off.
LY: I hope you can take Pam’s shirt off – or they’ll just be a Naked Pam!
AN: That’d be great!
LY: You know, in my geek world, there’s gonna be lines and lines of these things, but definitely Fight Club Pam should be a figure.
AN: That would sell more.
LY: There can be the Krieger’s Van Playset!
AN: That would be awesome!
LY: Vehicles, man! Archer’s El Camino!
AN: An ISIS dollhouse with the Laundromat in the bottom!
LY: Yup! And then you have to get in with the dryers and crank the elevator to the top.
Tell me about your new “Morning Show” at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company [in Atlanta].
|Photo by Stacey Bode|
AN: It’s so much fun!
LY: It’s the funnest and dumbest show ever. We host it. First, it’s at 10:30 at night, because neither of us are really morning people and we host it, you know, bubbly, and we talk about today’s topics and all the silly – we kind of do the morning show stuff, like where they do “Whose birthday is it today?” we have a band and the band sings. “Obituaries! Who died this week?” It’s generally Des Moines, Iowa, if we’re targeting anywhere.
AN: And then we have, like, a weather guy and we have makeovers…it’s a big, fun, stupid show.
LY: It’s like a fake talk show, even though we’re going to have real guests from time to time.
Lucky, if you could re-animate/cyborg anyone in history, who would it be and why?
LY: Anyone in history? That’s so huge…that’s so vast…
AN: I would say Helen Keller!
LY: Would you?! [beaming] And I would give her ears and eyes! [laughs] I will not say Helen Keller. She did just fine as a role model for who she was, so I’m not going to take all that way and just be, like, “Now, you’re just some lady!”
AN: You need somebody that didn’t get it done in their time — that needs more time on Earth.
LY: Yeah, but who is that, you know? I’m not the biggest humanitarian going, so I’m not gonna go, like, “Well, I’m gonna do Mother Teresa; she’s gonna make it all better!” I would do something stupid like one of the awesome Vikings or something like that.
AN: Or the guy – what’s his name – from The Bee Gees that just died…
LY: One of the Gibbs! Live forever, B.G.! Live forever!
Amber, what is your favorite pastry?
AN: I actually don’t like bear claws; I know that’s terrible. I think my favorite pastry is probably… I like all kinds of pie, but I think if it were a pastry from, like, a pastry shop, it would probably have to be a Krispy Kreme doughnut, man, you can’t go wrong with that; they’re perfection..
What makes Pam so great in the sack?
AN: I think, you know, I’ve heard dudes say this, and it’s so terrible, but there might be some truth to it is that women who are a little heavier or less attractive have to try harder. So, like, if you date a girl who’s really hot, but she used to be kinda chubby, she might be better in the sack than a girl who’s been hot all of her life.
LY: Yeah! Yeah, that’s true, because they went nuts.
AN: So, I think Pam tries a little harder, and she doesn’t give a shit.
LY: That, I think, is the reason why. From a dude’s point of view, I would say it’s because she’s just got a “fuck it” attitude about everything and she’s no holds barred no matter what she does, right?
AN: Yeah, so she’s not afraid to try anything.
LY: I mean, she fights in an underground fight club, so a chick like that is gonna be amazing in bed.
I know you both have experience with “Frisky Dingo”, but how were you approached to do “Archer”?
AN: Well, I had worked on “Frisky Dingo” and then they had me come in to do something for a DVD extra, so I went into their tiny little house that was in East Atlanta, where you get locked in a closet to do voice work, and they were like, “Hey, we want you to look at this thing,” and it was me delivering a Val line, but it was coming out of Pam’s head.
I had never seen Pam before, and they were like, “What do you think of this character?” and I’m like, “She’s awesome, she’s great! What is it?” and they’re like, “We’re doing this show on FX called “Archer”, do you want to do it?” and I’m like, “Uhhhhhh…YEAH,” and so that’s how it all started.
LY: And mine was because they were finally going to make Krieger talk so they asked Amber, “Hey, we got this character who’s gonna talk…who do you think?” and she said, “What about Lucky?” and I had already worked with them and they were like, “Oh, yeah, of course!”…I guess. I don’t know if that’s what happened…
AN: That’s exactly what happened.
LY: So, there you go! Amber Nash got me the job.
How much like Ray, Krieger, and Pam are you both?
LY: That’s tough. I definitely like the weird and macabre like Krieger does.
AN: And weird science stuff!
LY: Yeah, I’m a huge science nerd, so the fact that he’s sort of a mad-slash-super scientist…I wouldn’t want to play any other character, because all of his stuff appeals to sort of my geek sensibilities, so I would say just in that, but you know, I don’t know if I could mangle bodies and get all that weird.
AN: (to Lucky) Every time I see Ray, I think that you should dye your hair blonde and dress like [author] Willie Sharp, and you’d be a ladykiller.
LY: You think so?! Would I?! Or would I be a dudekiller in Midtown [Atlanta]?
AN: Ray is one of my favorite characters.
LY: He’s one of my very favorite characters, too. He’s so confident and snarky. I would say I’m like Ray in my smart-ass comments to things, but I’m certainly not an impeccably-dressed gay man.
AN: But you’re starting to get into neckerchiefs.
LY: Yeah, I want to get into some ‘kerchiefs’ – like some ascots!
AN: Some cravats?
LY: Yeah, cravats!
AN: I think for me, I identify with Pam, because she really just says what the fuck she wants, and I wish I could do that more than I already do, but I do feel like a lot of times, I do say stuff without thinking and it’s horrible and oftentimes, disgusting. And Pam is kind of a guy’s gal and I feel like I’m that way, too. Yeah, Pam is fuckin’ awesome; I wish that I was more like Pam.
How much ad-libbing is on the show?
LY: So little. The scripts are so great already that there’s no real reason to. Like, you know, after you read the actual, as-written [script] a couple of times, then you can change a word or two here and there, but…
AN: [Creator] Adam [Reed] doesn’t mind; he’d love for us to do more improvising, but we just don’t need it.
LY: There’s just no reason for it. Adam Reed is a genius and I don’t know how he does it.
Who the heck is the person who researches all the often-obscure references in the scripts?!
LY: Adam is a really, really smart person.
AN: And he’s interested in all kinds of crazy stuff that most people don’t know anything about, but he did admit that he does a lot of Googling.
LY: Sometimes, he’ll write the thing and he’ll know that there’s a joke there and just figure out – you know, because it’s usually the “Who are you? Blankety-blank?” the characters go, like, “Who the hell is that?” and “He invented the braking system on elevators.” What the – how does he know that?!
What time period is “Archer” in exactly? I’ve read that stylistically, it’s like “Mad Men” meets “Jonny Quest” meets 1960s comic books.
LY: It’s an alternate history; there is no specific time period. There are certainly references to things that happened in the not-so-distant past. They’ve got cell phones and big box computer and tape decks; reel-to-reel-type shit. So, I think it’s stuff that Adam and Matt [Thompson, executive producer] like aesthetically and jam-balled into this universe, where it all exists.
AN: I guess one of the things I love about the show is that you have no idea what’s happening.
LY: Woodhouse fought in WWI. That’s impossible, you know, to also be existing in a time where there are cell phones. He would be so ancient. And he was a junkie! He’d never live that long! So, yeah, it’s just timeless.
Before January’s ‘Archer Across America Tour,’ had you actually ever even met most of your other vocal co-stars?
AN: I had. I would go to Comic-Con every year and other live events, like the Upfronts every year, and we did a couple things at the Paley Center, so I met everyone when we started promoting the second season, so I’ve known everybody for awhile.
LY: I met most of them once at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in 2011. I met everybody but Judy [Greer, voice of Cheryl Tunt] there.
AN: And you know what the great thing is? I know people wouldn’t necessarily believe this, but everyone is so nice and when we did the tour, everyone gets along so well, and we have a really great chemistry, considering we don’t work together; it was really, really fun.
LY: Yup! And there’s not a single ego amongst them; they’re all super-chill. Cool…just nice, nice people. They’re so great; I love that cast.
How do you guys record your parts for the show?
AN: There’s a recording studio here that all the Atlanta voices record at and usually we do it in an afternoon and then I guess they get the records from the guys at LA and NY [voice studios] around the same time and it’s really fast. It’s so easy and quick to do. We’re usually there for 30 minutes to an hour, maximum.
LY: Yeah! You go in the booth alone, with your script, and just record line-by-line. At this point in the show, I think, we know how all the other cast members are delivering their things, generally and you know, you switch it up a little bit and Adam is a great director, too, so he’ll tell you if he wants you to take it in a certain direction or whatever. I’m always excited when they say, “We’re recording next week, here’s the script!” because then I get to read it, ‘cause the scripts are hilarious; they’re just as funny as the show.
AN: Or even jokes within the scripts that aren’t part of the show, like the way that some of the stage directions or directions for animation are written; they’re funny.
LY: They’re great. Yup, Adam Reed! I can’t kiss that guy’s ass enough!
Any future voice projects? Has this been a springboard?
AN: No, I really hoped it would be! [laughs]
LY: Me too!
AN: We audition a lot and nothing’s happened yet. Voice work is hard man; they’re listening to so many different people…
LY: It’s a crazy, competitive part of acting and so many TV and film people are just doing it as well, that it’s sort of, like, even shrunk opportunities for straight-up voice actors.
AN: Yeah, because they’re getting celebrities to do voices now…but hopefully, it will [bring new voice acting opportunities].
LY: We’ll see. I’m confident!
What are your dream roles, vocal or otherwise?
LY: What would I want to play?? More than Krieger?? Oh my God…
AN: I’d like to play Helen Keller…
LY: Bionic Helen Keller!
AN: …in a Lifetime Original Movie. No, I would love to do more on-camera work; I just haven’t done a lot of it and I would do anything. I would love to do any type of comedic work or be in a movie or on a television show; I’m not picky.
LY: I would love to have a TV kids’ show…that’s sort of my dream role. I don’t know if I’d be a host or a puppet, but…kids’ show guy, live kids’ show guy would be fun. That or just be in an episode of “The Venture Bros.”, because that’s my favorite show, other than “Archer.”
Tell me about your puppetry experience/history. How long have you been involved with it?
LY: Since ’96, maybe? I got a job at the Center [for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta]. And yeah, I had studied theater and all that kinda stuff, but then got a job in the box office at the Center and my first assignment was to go watch the show that was currently playing, so that I could sell tickets to the public to it, and when I watched the show, I was like, “Holy shit! You can do this for a living?!” because I’ve always had puppets in my life, but “Oh man! I want to do this!” And that was it; I really started getting into it.
How did you guys each get into voice work?
LY: I would say I got into commercial stuff by being a part of [now-defunct 96.1 FM’s] The Regular Guys’ Show, ‘cause I was on that show for a few years and then just started doing ads for the dudes at Clear Channel – which I still continue to do – so that was pretty much it for me.
AN: Mine’s not that different. I actually did stuff for Clear Channel also and Mike Schatz, who’s a guy from Dad’s [Garage Theatre Company], he’s an ad guy, and he does a lot of voiceover work with his agency, and so, he asked me to do some stuff. Mainly, the reason I got into it was people would call me and I would show up within 30 minutes and do something. It wasn’t because I was the best voice for it, it was because, “I need somebody right now!” and “Oh, ok, I’ll be there!” And then I got “Frisky Dingo,” because Christian Danley is an improviser at Dad’s and he was an animator for “Sealab 2021,” so when they started working on “Frisky Dingo”…well, the show was actually something completely different and they were auditioning for a teenage girl, so they had me come in, and I was totally wrong for it; no way I could play a teenage girl. So, then they went with somebody else, but then the show completely changed and then halfway into the season, they had me come in and read for Val and I stayed on as Val and did a bunch of other characters, so that was my big thing.
What do you guys “geek out” over?
LY: Star Wars and Batman are my 2 bigs; and “Venture Bros”…I guess I have 3 bigs.
AN: I geek out over Psychology [laughs]. I’ve got a subscription to “Psychology Today;” it’s my favorite magazine. But I also love “Game of Thrones.” That’s my favorite show on TV, and ‘The Walking Dead,” I’m into that.
Did you study Psychology?
AN: I did, yeah.
LY: Yeah, you have a degree in it. You have something useful that one day…
AN: I can use? [laughs]
LY: Yeah, that if shit ever fell apart, you could actually do something with that, as opposed to my completely useless Theatre degree, because this [makes circular gesture at himself] is all I know how to do and if one day, everybody stops liking what I do, I’m dead.
Acting is such a huge leap from that, Amber. How did you get involved with it?
AN: I actually was a counselor for troubled teenagers and I found Dad’s Garage as an audience member, and I was working in another company called Laughing Matters, and I started doing a sketch show at Dad’s called “Free Parking” – that’s how I met everyone at Dad’s – and then I started taking improv classes there, and then that was my hobby for a long, long time and then when I couldn’t handle being a counselor for troubled teens any longer, I decided to quit my job and take a leap and see if I could make it full-time as an actor and that was in 2005, so, it’s goin’ ok.
LY: That’s great! I haven’t had a real job since 1997…when I left the box office at the Center for Puppetry Arts! [laughs] That was my last real job!
What can we expect for the rest of the season?
AN: Pam gets some action, but I can’t say any more than that.
LY: Yup, Pam gets some action and Krieger just kind of chills at this point. Krieger’s had his big moments already this season, so at this point, we’re more back to the classic Krieger: “CUT TO: Do Something Stupid And You Never See Him Again,” which is awesome; I like that version, too.
|Photo by Sebastian Daskawicz|