'Off the Cuff' Podcast: Aisha Tyler on Owing Her Career to High School Crush Sam Rockwell

Robert Adam Mayer

The self-described "clinical workaholic" from TV's 'The Talk,' 'Whose Line Is It Anyway' and 'Archer' tells #THRpodcasts how she jumped from environmental law to a gangbusters career in Hollywood.

"There was this super hot guy in my class who, by the way, was Sam Rockwell. And I followed him to an acting class," Aisha Tyler tells us in this lightning-fast episode of Off the Cuff when we ask how she first became a performer. (Fast, by the way, is Tyler's natural pace when speaking and just about everything else she does.) She remembers Rockwell, her high school classmate in San Francisco, as being this "tiny, strange, kind of Jack Nicholson-esque weirdo" and that she "followed his ass into class, and then I looked up and went, 'Huh. I'll stay!' "

She didn't beeline straight to Hollywood from there, however, opting instead to study government at Dartmouth with an eye on environmental law, which was her first job out of school before she decided that becoming a lawyer would be a "slow, languid slide toward death." She then moved back to the Bay Area, where she threw her hat into the stand-up comedy ring.

"It's a very judge-snotty culture there," she recalls of the San Francisco comedy scene, though after four years she was already headlining clubs and touring the country. She moved to Los Angeles in 1997, working rooms at The Laugh Factory and The Improv, when she read in The Hollywood Reporter that E's Talk Soup was looking for a new host. She immediately told her manager she wanted the job, but he was adamant that they would never hire a woman. 

Her response? "Well, you're fired. It's been nice knowing you."

With new representation, Tyler landed the Talk Soup gig and hasn't looked back since, with shows such as Friends, The Talk, Whose Line Is It Anyway and Archer only partially filling up her résumé that also includes two books and a continuing stand-up career.

"For the record, I'm a clinical workaholic," she admits. "I can't ever get busy enough."

Tyler is now hard at work gearing up for the launch of her new premium cocktail line, Courage and Stone.

"I don't want to shake and muddle and all this crap," she says to explain why she wanted to offer people an easy way to make classic drinks such as Old Fashioneds and Manhattans at home.

"I just want to get f—d up in a very classy way, with my pinky out."

Listen to Tyler's full interview in this episode of Off the Cuff, and be sure to subscribe to #THRpodcasts on iTunes for all the latest episodes.

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