Interview with Archer Creator Adam Reed

We sit down at New York Comic Con with Adam Reed, the creator and showrunner of Archer (as well as the voice of Ray!) to discuss his raunchy FX hit. Also, how can Archer be a fan of Melville AND Burt?

If you have ever enjoyed your humor, animated, filthy, and astoundingly brilliant, then chances are that you’re a fan of Adam Reed. As a guy whose first writing credit was a five-episode stint on Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Reed is the creator of cult classic Sealab 2021 and classic, classic Archer. The latter of which is the evermore-popular FX series about the most perverted group of co-workers in the history of television (or reality). They also happen to be punching in the clock at an international espionage agency, Isis, and their posteboy spook is a turtleneck-loving 007-like narcissist with mommy issues and a drinking problem. It was thus as the creator of that terrific FX series (as well as the voice actor for Ray!), which brought him to New York Comic Con this year. The always-funny man came buoying from a Friday morning series of speed interviews with a broad smile and a playful demeanor. Like the demented cast of Archer, he was ready to turn his work into hilarity. One of my favorite lines in this show has been, “Not a big Melville crowd, huh? He’s a difficult read.” So, I’ve always wondered, given Sterling Archer’s personality, how did he become so well-read and intellectual on the side? Adam Reed: You know that’s a good question! I think it was early on when we were developing the show, and we didn’t want to have the bumbling spy who completes the mission accidentally. But also, I didn’t want Archer to be so handsome and good at martial arts and guns, and apparently rich, and also really smart—So what we came up with is sort of a legal fiction that he’s “willfully obtuse.” That was the phrase we settled on. I think he’s a lot smarter than he lets on, and a lot of times when he’s acting his dumbest is in the times of the greatest peril. I think he does it just to bother everybody and freak everybody out. He’s so supremely confident. He knows nothing bad is going to happen to him. He can’t even imagine dying or even getting badly hurt. So, he takes those opportunities to dick around when he really shouldn’t be. And it really freaks everybody out. So, he probably has read a lot of Melville, but he doesn’t want anybody to know that. Melville and Burt Reynolds. Melville and Burt, yeah. He’s a polymath! So, you guys did that crossover with Bob’s Burgers at the beginning of last season. Is there another crossover that you’d love to get in an upcoming season? I want to do a three-episode thing called “The Poovey Files” where Pam is a detective in 1940s San Francisco. Just a straight up noir, and I’m going to start working on FX to see if they’ll let us do that at any point. I don’t know why they would [but] I guess that would be a crossover of genres, really. Has there ever been anything you really wish you could do, but FX wouldn’t let you? No. The only thing they haven’t ever let us do is throw a baby to disarm a guy with a gun. [Laughs]. That’s really been the only thing. They were going to throw the Wee Baby Seamus at a gun-wielding assailant, and FX was like, “We’re not a network that throws babies!” But with dogs, it’s okay? Dogs is fine, but not babies. That was the only thing. Has there ever been a cast member who said, “I don’t know if I can say that one line?” No. What happens is, especially with our female characters, there will be a pretty gross line and they’ll come to it and go, “Okay and what does this mean?” And I’ll go, “Eh, eh, eh, just say it.” [They reply], “I need to know what it means, so I know how to read it.” So, then I’ll tell them, and then it’s like with Amber, “YOU GUYS!” or Jessica says [in very disapproving voice], “….Adam. Adam.” And then they read it and nail it. They’re all good sports.  Have any of your characters expanded in ways that surprised you over the course of four seasons? Well we know that Archer is a huge Melville fan. But I think Pam is the biggest onion. I think Pam has the most layers so far. Thanks for being able to do this today. Thank you. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!