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Stirring the Pot

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Aisha Tyler just can’t stop talking. When she’s not stirring the pot on the E! network’s irreverent Talk Soup—as the weekday cable show’s first female and African-American host—or doing a guest turn on Politically Incorrect, she’ll often turn up at L.A.’s Improv to riff about her childhood in San Francisco (“I’ve been 6 ft. tall since second grade. I was gigantic—this Godzilla kid”). Tyler, 30, can kid about anything—even those lean years in the mid-’90s when she was struggling to switch careers from Dartmouth-educated marketing executive to full-time stand-up, while her husband (and college sweetheart), Jeff Tietjens, 32, attended law school. “We were po’,” she says. “We couldn’t even afford the other o and the r.”

Talk Soup, besides being a springboard for stardom (both Greg Kinnear and Queer as Folk‘s Hal Sparks

started there), affords Tyler the chance to skewer or celebrate the weirdest moments on daytime and late-night, from Conan O’Brien to Judge Judy to Jerry Springer. But no hard feelings. Springer, in fact, is a Tyler fan. “She’s bright and gorgeous,” he says. “She gets how stupid it all is, yet she’s not cruel.”

“She always had the gift of gab,” says her father, Jim Tyler, 58, a freelance photographer who raised Aisha from age 10, when he and her mother, art teacher Robin Gregory, 55, divorced. Says Tyler: “My parents remained great friends.” Much like Tyler and her own spouse. “He’s an honest critic, but he’s also my biggest cheerleader,” she says. Tietjens, now a corporate attorney, agrees: “I’m her safe harbor,” But, he adds, “there aren’t many quiet times with Aisha.”