A night with ‘Archer Live’
I couldn’t make Archer Live, so I sent friend of Guyism Kareem Harper to the show. Here’s his report.
When friends heard that I was covering Archer Live this past Saturday, the predominant question that arose was, “Isn’t Archer animated? How is that going to work?” I must admit, I too was scratching my head upon hearing about the event initially – would it just be reading of episodes? How can that be exciting?
Oddly enough, the answers to those questions are quite simple and were immediately apparent upon seeing the cast assembled on stage. H. Jon Benjamin (Sterling Archer), the stunning Amazonian goddess Aisha Tyler (Agent Lana Kane), the legendary Jessica Walter (Malory Archer), SNL alumni and 30 Rock mainstay Chris Parnell (Cyril Figgis), Amber Nash (Pam Poovey) and the maniacal wunderkind Lucky Yates (Krieger) combined represent a wealth of stand-up comedy, improve and theater work experience the coalesced magically maniacal and intense experience that was part “special features” commentary and part improv comedy show with a held together by duct tape rustic and “Scrappy” feel worthy of a permanent off-Broadway presence.
Make no mistake, Archer Live was “awesome” in a bottle rocking pasties.
While the event was MC’ed by Lucky Yates, who had the audience whipped up into a ravenous frenzy before his fellow cast members joined him on stage, the true orchestrator of the event was Executive Producer Matt Thompson. Matt kept the group focused, the show moving at a healthy pace and with easily missed queues to off stage hands insured audio levels were in check, props were ready when called for. Trust me, without Matt this would have been herding cats given the strong and lively personalities on stage.
As you may or may not be aware, one of the benefits of doing an animated show is the ability for the talent to record lines wherever they are. The cast of Archer really don’t have a chance to interact with one another while episodes are production and record their lines pretty much in isolation with guidance from Matt Thompson and Adam Reed. What was apparent with Archer Live was that the cast do have a real chemistry with one another, and on stage that chemistry was electrifying. That chemistry coupled with what Matt Thompson described as “letting the script and scenes breathe a little more” (an acknowledgement of the hyper kentic and tight editing of the series) led to some remarkable moments as the cast performed (with stills from Archer displayed on a screen in the background) some of Matt’s favorite scenes from a few select episodes of the first two seasons.
Yes, there were props – including a t-shirt launching, CO2 powered air cannon. Yes, there were plenty of anecdotes about crazed fans. There was a lot of DANGER ZONE, and fans (and press) were treated to some season 4 teasers (Archer’s father!!) and some never seen before clips that will eventually make it onto a Season 4 DVD. All that said, the most remarkable thing about the night was, as a fan, seeing the love the cast had for this gem of a television show, and more importantly the respect and appreciation they had for their fans.
Whoever at FX that thought this event up deserves high praise, as well as the talent and executive producers for being so giving with their time to deliver an experience like this. Being a selfish fan boy, I of course am clamoring for another round of Archer Live following the conclusion of Season 4, and if they do it again – take my word for it – it is an experience that you do not want to miss.
Archer Season 4 premieres on FX January 17th, and the Season 3 DVD is available now.