December 9, 2013 Sections
The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
TORONTO - Comedy star Aisha Tyler says she's had an "extraordinary" response to her recent tearful admission that she and her husband have had fertility problems and have stopped trying to get pregnant.
The 43-year-old co-host of "The Talk," who will perform standup comedy at the Royal Theatre in Toronto on Friday, said on the series last month that she and Jeff Tietjens had gone through many procedures and spent a lot of money to try to get pregnant. But their chances of conceiving were slim and they recently decided it's not worth it to try anymore.
Tyler says the confession elicited more fan mail than she's ever received in her life and she's glad she made it.
She also feels the revelation was "really valuable," not only because viewers have responded so positively, but also because it may help those going through the same situation feel empowered to do the same thing.
"One of the main reasons that I did that was because ... you always hear like, 'It was so difficult and then I finally conceived,' and it's always this happy ending, and I wanted all the women out there for whom it wasn't a happy ending — because honestly, for about 95 per cent of women it isn't a happy ending — to know that they weren't alone and that also it was OK to decide to remain child-free," she said in a recent telephone interview.
"There's this incredible pressure to go through that, and also for a lot of people, once they start and they start spending all that money, they can't stop, it becomes this kind of runaway train, and I wanted all the women out there who were struggling with that decision to know that it's OK to stop.
"It's OK to say, 'I don't want to put my body through this, I don't want to put my relationship through this, I don't want to ruin my finances over this.'"
The affable San Francisco native — who also voices agent Lana Kane in the edgy FX animated comedy series "Archer" and hosts "Whose Line is it Anyway?" as well as the weekly podcast "Girl on Guy" — said she didn't try to get pregnant in her 20s because she wanted to focus on her career.
She doesn't regret that decision and notes she's "not looking to be the poster child for infertility."
"We made the decisions we made, and then when it was time to get what we wanted out of a family, we had run out of road. And that's the reality for a lot of professional women, and I don't think that they should be made to feel badly or inadequate because of it."
Tyler is also used to being open about her life in her standup routine, which she'll present in two shows on Friday at the Empire Comedy Live event in Toronto.
"Comedy is like a constant ripping off of a Band-Aid, you know what I mean?" the fetching former "Ghost Whisperer" cast member and "Talk Soup" presenter said with a laugh.
"It's just over and over and over again, and it's always more scary than painful. Once you rip it off, you're like, 'Oh, I'm glad I did that' — especially if people laugh."
A 21-year veteran of standup, Tyler said she likes to play and improvise a bit to make each show a bit different and fresh.
But ultimately her show is focused, conversational, personal and intense — like "a freight train that they're going to get on and they're going to ride all the way to the station."
"The thing I'll say about the show is, if people know me from 'Archer' or from 'Whose Line' ... or if they know my podcast, 'Girl on Guy,' then I think they know what my voice is," said the self-confessed geek and longtime gamer, who speaks quickly and smartly with a sharp wit and charm.
"It's a combination of kind of heady intellectualism and lots and lots of really dirty (penis) jokes, so very much a grown-up show.
"I tell people, 'Don't bring your daughter who loves me from the "Ghost Whisperer," because it's going to be a really quiet ride in the car home, if you haven't had the birds and bees talk with her already.'"
As Tyler's new book "Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation" explains, her bravery onstage was encouraged by her parents.
"There was no conservatism in my family in that way, like, 'Well, maybe you want to be a nurse, maybe you should get a typing skill,'" said Tyler, who had a recurring role on "Friends" in the ninth and 10th seasons.
"It was always just like, 'Go hard, go all the way, you only live once,' and that resulted in quite a few broken bones. But I'm very grateful for that, because I think creative bravery especially is the only way to ever do anything interesting or memorable."
Tyler said she performs standup a couple of weekends a month and is getting ready to shoot another comedy special for TV — a remarkable feat given all the other projects she has on the go.
"Just relentlessness and a lot of coffee," she said.
"I really love being busy. I'm at my best when I'm almost like overburdened, I think that's when I excel," she added, noting she doesn't take this fruitful period for granted.
"I've had long stretches where I was doing a lot of creative scratch baking and watching Nickelodeon Jr. during the day, so I remember vividly what it's like to be not busy at all."