Addiction on TV – Part One: I interview “Pam” from Archer (Amber Nash)

“If you can quote Frisky Dingo and Chuck Palahniuk, I’ll marry you yesterday.” – My Tinder profile.

“Look, my therapist says everybody’s got a hole that needs to be filled. Some people fill it with drugs, some fill it with work, some fill it with between-meal snacks and liquor and their therapist’s c*#k.” – Pam Poovey

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If you have a sense of humor, you probably know and LOVE this voice:

Amber Nash is best known for her voice-over work as Pam Poovey on Archer. Unfortunately, fewer people know of Frisky Dingo which is where Amber first started working with Archer creator, Adam Reed. It was on Frisky Dingo that she voiced multiple characters, including “Simone” who had a cameo in Archer and is (in my opinion) the funniest depiction of a heroin addict on television:

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I wanted to talk to Amber–not just because I’m a HUGE fan–but also because throughout her work she has portrayed substance-abuse on, well… pretty much EVERY level:

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“Blob Marley”

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Epi-Pens to keep eating shellfish… deadly allergy be damned.

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“Pamphetamines”  (I don’t know if I just made that up or if I heard it on the show.)

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“Green Russians” – I mean, obviously.

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“Dude… they’re cocaine!”

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Pam even “caught the tail of the dragon” after a rogue needle from Woodhouse (RIP George Coe)

“Damn dog… innappropes.”

Considering the fact that in my daily life I talk to parents and loved ones of those suffering addiction, how dare I laugh at this?! Of course I don’t believe addiction is funny, especially when I’ve both experienced and witnessed the soul-crushing misery it leaves in its wake.

However, after 15 minutes on the phone with Amber Nash I found a new perspective…

KHP (Me, Dan): “I love comedy that doesn’t pull any punches. Have you always done voice-work or did you start with theater work?”

Amber: “I found Dad’s Garage years after Lucky (“Krieger” on Archer) was a big-shot there and I was TOTALLY intimidated by him. I had just graduated High School and started taking classes there, scrubbing toilets there, and just hanging around… I was basically the bratty kid-sister nobody could get rid of.”

KHP: “How did paying your dues at Dad’s Garage so many years ago lead to where you are now?”

Amber: “I did shows there for years and years. One of the improvisers Christian Danley who was part of the performance ensemble at Dad’s Garage was also an animator and worked with Adam Reed and Matt Thompson at, what was then, Seventy-Thirty. It was just, like, four guys working out of this shitty little house in East Atlanta on the show Sealab 2021. They were a young group of dudes making cartoons and the theater was young then too, so they knew a lot of us at Dad’s and they would come and see shows. They started making Frisky Dingo and Christian and Lucky were both “Xtacles” and I first auditioned for a teenage girl but I was totally wrong for the part. My friend Tiffany did the voice of Val for the first two episodes and then I took over. The show was, weirdly, going to be kind of a family-drama-sitcom thing before it became what it was.”

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(Which, by the way… is pure genius. They even managed a YOUR/YOU’RE grammar joke. Brilliant.)

KHP: In Season Five of Archer, Pam’s cocaine addiction was a major theme. Have you gotten any backlash from people who claim you’re “glamorizing” substance abuse?

Amber: “There was a lot of backlash after Season Five but not because of substance abuse. Instead I think it was because people don’t like change. The interesting thing about doing an animated show is that people don’t take things so seriously. If we were a live-action show we wouldn’t get away with 75% of what we do. Because it’s animated, it allows us a little bit more room to screw around but we still tackle some tough subjects, like when Archer had cancer.”

KHP: Obviously the characters aren’t meant to be role models, but we love them BECAUSE they’re often terrible. How do you find the humor when those subjects do get real-life heavy? You know, addressing addiction “without getting all Trainspotty.”

Amber: “We deal with some BIG things and there are moments that are really heavy. I do think it’s important to find humor in tough situations. It’s like the only way you can become… whole again. I think. Before I did voice-work, I did a lot of comedy theater. I think with comedy you have a way in with young people that you wouldn’t have otherwise. If you take yourself too seriously, young people are like, “Screw it, I don’t want to hear this. This is exactly what my parents have been saying to me.”

KHP: I couldn’t agree more. At the beginning of Season Six we are even given a hint that Pam sought help with her addiction because of her “everyone has a hole to fill” speech which, of course, was touching and insightful just long enough to make the punchline about boning her therapist that much funnier.

Amber: “I think especially with younger people who have substance-abuse problems, comedy is a different way in and puts everybody on the same platform.  It can be such a powerful tool because with comedy, guards are down.”

KHP: Amber, thank you SO much for your time. If I can geek-out for just a second… do you think we’ll ever see a Wendell cameo in Archer?

Amber: (Laughs) “I don’t think so. It’s hard to know for sure. The funny thing is, I think you’re in the minority of people who would even appreciate it. But, like with the Simone cameo, sometimes just a handful is enough.”

Again, I want to give a HUGE thank you to Amber for not only taking the time to share her thoughts, but also for being incredibly sweet and patient while my mind raced with thoughts of Poovey Farms, toilet stall graffiti, and bearclaws. It was NOT easy staying  on track.

To the Archer crew; we all need the laughter you bring, regardless of where we are in life. So, keep it coming hard and filthy… just the way I like it.

Phrasing. Boosh.

Archer is available on Netflix and airs Thursdays on FX. Season 8 will premiere in January. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, there is hope.  However, if you DON’T watch Archer… you should seriously reevaluate your life.

 Next week I interview Desmin Borges who plays “Edgar” on another FX show: “You’re the Worst”

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