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Archer, An Interview With the Voice of the Spy Mr. H. Jon Benjamin

Once again I was thrilled to have a chance to speak with Archer’s voice Mr. H. Jon Benjamin.

Alrighty fans – it's that time of the season for the return of the one – the only (thank god for that) Sterling Archer and the gang with the next season of ARCHER on FX.

Once again I was thrilled to have a chance to speak with Archer’s voice Mr. H. Jon Benjamin. If you’ve never had that chance I have to tell you he always makes me laugh. In his voice there is this little something like he knows a little secret and only he’s in on it.

That works for me because I still get the chance to ask him questions about this season and, when he stayed on point, see how he feels about his pal Sterling Archer.

Thanks for joining us today Jon, its always so much fun to talk to you.

You’re welcome.

Your characters from BOB’S BURGER and ARCHER are colliding, talk to us about that? 

It basically came about out from the creator of the show. Apparently he was a fan of Bob’s Burgers and me. He came up with the idea to do it and he asked me to ask Lauren Bushard so I was like the middleman. It went real smoothly. It was around a fifteen to 20 second phone call. They turned it over to lawyers and they hammered out a deal <laughing> It all came from Adam wanting to open the season like that. It was really well done I thought. 

Is it odd or confusing to switch between Sterling Archer and Bob? 

A lot of people complain how I don’t do anything different for either. F*ck them! It was funny that I did notice that Archer is a little different but I had to do him, as Bob but it got very convoluted, very subtle there. 

Have you been to the studio in Atlanta?

I’ve been many times but I came recently to visit the studio and boy was that awkward. There were a lot of animators staring at me.

Did they recognize you? 

I think they were expecting someone to look exactly like Sterling Archer to walk in. It’s one big room with 100 people drawing and hearing my voice over the P.A. It’s like a sweatshop.

Do you think Sterling is maturing at all? 

I think maybe but it’s a glacial progress. At some point he has to but I feel like his lifestyle will catch up with him eventually. I feel like I want him to gain 15 pounds but he won’t metabolize alcohol anytime soon. 

Does he get better looking as the series goes along? 

He’s pretty rock solid. Maybe he has gotten in better shape but I haven’t looked under his shirt. 

What happens when people realize you are not like Archer?

There has been a bunch of people who have not done well to disguise their disappointment. You have a lot of people saying ‘ohhh, too bad’ and it was shattering hopes.

What has been your best fan experience?

As a fan it would be Mick Jagger but with a fan I happen to be walking through Central Park and two guys came up to me and it was right next to where they do the handsome cab rides with horse drawn carriages. For some reason they were screaming ‘oh my gawd its Archer’ so I said ‘okay everyone get in’ and it’s a 45-minute ride around the park. It got very awkward after the first minute and they were like “why are we doing this” and I thought it was a good idea at the time. It wasn’t fun but it was the best fan experience.

Has Archer changed since the original pilot?

He hasn’t changed much. I think I was less confident at the time the show aired but now I’m just full voiced and full on arrogant a**hole. I think I’ve just gotten more aggressive in general and I try to be less nasally than I use to be.

What do you have coming up with Archer?

There is a really good story line with Sterling’s step-dad and Archer is immediately put off that his mom is getting happier. Then there is all this Ron Cadillac character is not what he seems. There is a two-part season finale, which is a pretty grand story that takes place under water.

The show goes from space to water?

Yea, there isn’t much more to do except Middle Earth. 

Do you get a chance to ad-lib? 

No, they aren’t slave drivers depending on the scene sometimes we can fool around a little bit. On the whole we pretty much stick to the script. There are a lot of jokes that have to do with scenes against each other but I’ll throw in a few things. A lot of things I assume that other characters ad-lib are Adam having written them. He’ll rewrite scenes when he hears they don’t work at the spur of the moment. That’s the most that things will change.

Is it all pretty separate then? 

Yes, Occasionally I’ll smell Aisha being there before me.

Have they thought to do a group?

We did an ARCHER live where we did the best-of stuff. We did that together. 

Was it fun? 

Ehhhhhh? How do you spell that like ‘e-hhhhhh’?

Is there anything you’d like to do in real life that ARCHER gets to do? 

Wow, there’s a lot. I’d like to work for my Mom, she’s a ballet dancer, no I wouldn’t. I’d like to go to Morocco and I’d like to travel like Archer. That would be fun.

Will there be Daddy issues now that Ron Cadillac is there?

Yea, I don’t think Archer responds to the stepfather the way he would his real father. Archer has major daddy issues and I think no matter who fills in Archer is going to want to kill him. 

What about playing Archer do you love?

I really like the show; I think it’s my favorite thing. I like seeing them so it’s a bonus to me when I see the final product. I do end up watching them all at once. Its fun that it’s me! Its fun that I’m the guy. When I watch it – I’m the guy! But I’m a real conceited asshole and I like celebrating myself all the time. It takes up a lot of my time looking in a mirror.

Do you have a favorite episode?

I don’t know, that’s tough. Name a couple! I haven’t watched them in a while and I haven’t watched the current season. Probably lets say episode 206.

Did you know that BOB’S BURGER and ARCHER would happen at the same time?

No, it’s definitely like ‘why are you doing them both?’ It just happened. I can’t remember which came first but I think it was BOBS BURGERS with Fox had a very long development process. Over a year and a half they kept making this demo. ARCHER I had done the pilot and heard the show got picked up eight months later. BOBS BURGER stated long before ARCHER did. It just took a long time for it to get on air. It’s a coincidence. 

What is coming up for Bob?

I don’t know. We just started taping the back end of the third season. Also, some of the cast members will be writing episodes coming up. I know I am so that’s exciting.

What are you going to write for Bob?

I think it will be much darker if I do it <laughing> I haven’t figured out what my episode will be about but I’ll go very dark.

How is it changing from suave Archer to regular guy Bob? 

I like how different they are. It’s nice to get payback for Archer’s attitude. It’s a good balance.

Is there something you get excited or look for especially? 

Not particularly, I don’t really care I guess on the whole. Obviously when stuff happens its fun to read and see. Adam is very good at planting a seed and that seed will grow three episodes later. It’s always good to forget and then realize it’s happening later. Like Barry being in space, you forget it and then Barry is watching. Archer all along and it makes sense. That stuff is very rewarding. Especially for those who watch the show a lot and appreciate it. 

Do you know what’s coming?

I don’t get the script until the night before I record so there is no way to tell. There have been occasions that I find out stuff when I’m saying it.

Did you add anything to Archer personally?

Not really. There might be a case where Adam, the writer of the show, wrote stuff based on what I’m like. No, if that were the case Archer would be Jewish.

I’m sure you get asked this a lot but why do you think the show is so popular

I think the colors really. No, I think because it’s funny and really well done. When it first came out there was no sense that it was going to be this much of a hit even for Adam. Adam had done prior shows that had a big following in terms of people loving what he does. I think its because Adam creates really great characters and really funny stories.

Do you want to do live action?

Yes, I have done it before but I don’t get as much work in life action. I’ve had a live action show on Comedy Central. I’ve done some stuff and I’d like to continue to try and do it. Live action comedy is what I started doing so I’m always surprised that I keep doing animation.

Does ARCHER shock you anymore?

No, nothing every shocked me even from the very beginning. I’m not easily shocked.

ARCHER satirizes the spy life or BOB’S BURGER anything else?

BOB’S BURGER doesn’t satirize another genre really, BOB’S BURGER does satirize the pop culture stuff and I think ARCHER doesn’t even do that. Its pretty much an office comedy more than anything else I think. The spy stuff all be it a big part of the show I don’t feel like its winking at the spy genre. It’s a much more character based comedy and not high concept where its trying to take from James Bond anymore. That’s the least important part to Adam. 

What do you watch on T.V.? 

I don’t watch a lot of shows actually. I watch ARCHER a lot but the season at once. Most recently the show I got into was BOARDWALK EMPIRE. Mainly I watch sports and news – basketball and democracy now. 

Do you know about the ARCHER action figures? 

There are? I didn’t know that. Wow.

Which figure will you get?

Pam, she’s my favorite. I hope they make a Pam one.

Adam’s shows are so well written, is it the scripts causing all the success?

I’m often asking Adam about certain references in the show. I pronounced cuckold wrong and there are a lot of words used that I’m aware what they mean but I’m not sure how to say them. I’m often worse with pronunciation.

We saw you at Comic Con this year, how does it feel to walk into a room with 2000 cheering people?

You should see my apartment.

You have that many people waiting for you every day huh?

 Well, I do live with 1700 roommates. 

Nice!

It’s a small two bedroom but its New York and the market is really awful.

I watched you when you walked in the hall and you had an amazed look on your face when everyone started cheering.

Well the first time we were at Comic Con was the second season of ARCHER and I don’t think I’d even met the cast. St that point because everyone did the show from their respective cities or countries in the case of Chris Parnell of course who lives in some east European country for tax purposes. I didn’t have any sense of the popularity of the show at all. It has gotten so big. The first year we were in this much smaller room and people were in a huge line to get in and they had to turn them away. I think we were all looking around like “THIS SHOW?” That was so surprising. The look you saw from this last time is probably because I was high.

Well that would definitely explain it.

And that’s how you end a conversation with Sterling Archer and H. Jon Benjamin. ARCHER’S new season has already begun so see it each Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. on FX, and as most fans know, there is always something new and wild waiting in the wings.

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