In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
You might not immediately recognize Amber Nash’s name or face, but the second you hear her raucous laughter in Archer, you know things are about to get really freaky. The improv and live-theater vet is probably best known for playing “sturdy bisexual” Pam Poovey, who frequently manages to be the most debauched degenerate in the veritable bacchanal that is the old ISIS workplace. Given her martini-guzzling and responsibility-eschewing competition, that’s no easy feat. But Nash brings unrelenting optimism and depravity to the role in equal measure—it’s not for nothing that over time, Pam’s left her HR desk job behind for more field work.
As Archer heads for Danger Island, Nash spoke to The A.V. Club by phone about MC Hammer, murderous ghosts, and how she plays against Pam’s type in real life by not being the life of the party.
1. What makes you optimistic about the future?
Amber Nash: Oh my gosh, that’s such a big question. I would say my husband. That’s so sappy, but it’s very true. He’s also in the business. He is the artistic director at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company in Atlanta that I’ve worked at for years and I still am at, and he’s just such a go-getter. There’s nothing that he can’t accomplish. Whenever there’s some big project or something we’re trying to undertake—whether it’s a family trip or a project or a webseries—he’s just all about making it happen. So, that’s my answer.
2. Which single work of yours do you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved?
AN: I would have to say it’s this webseries we did in 2015 called Hart Of America. That’s H-A-R-T, and it’s all online at HartOfAmerica.com. The whole thing’s 10 episodes, they’re all five minutes, and it’s really weird. I think that people were just like, “What is this?”
What’s so funny about it is there’s three different storylines that all start out completely independent of one another, and they start to weave together, and I got to play the main character in all three storylines. So I played an old lady, I played a cop, and then I played an anthropologist, and I also played this weird narrator character that was this grizzled old man with a milky eye. So it’s a really fun project. It was super weird, and it never really took off the way that we hoped it would.
3. What was the first album you bought with your own money?
AN: Oh my god, it was MC Hammer.
AN: It was... What was his first album called?
AVC: I think it was Feel My Power?
AN: Yeah. ’Cause I had money from doing chores, ’cause my parents weren’t really allowance people, so I never really usually had money. I guess they just decided to give me allowance money a couple of times, and that’s what I bought with it. I bought the tape of that album.
AVC: Wow, that is commitment. Did you buy it for a particular song?
AN: It was the big one. Why can’t I think of the name of his big song? I’ve gotta look it up really quick. You know, where he’s got his Hammer pants, and he’s doing the whole dance.
AVC: “U Can’t Touch This”? [Ed. Note: After the interview, we confirmed this song is actually from Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ’Em.]
AN: Yeah! “U Can’t Touch This.” That was it. Totally.
4. Do you believe in ghosts?
AN: You know, I do, but I’ve never seen one myself. I believe that there are people that can, that are a little bit more attuned, but I never have. I really wanna believe in ghosts, but I’ve never seen any proof of them myself.
AVC: Why do you say you want to believe in ghosts?
AN: I think it just makes life more interesting, that we’re not just this one plane of existence on this one world. I want there to be more because it’s just all the mystery and the potential for there to be all these other beings around. I think that’s really exciting.
AVC: Is there a particular historic ghost that you’d like to meet?
AN: Maybe Madame [Elizabeth] Báthory, or something like that. Someone that was horribly terrible and scary. That’d be a really scary ghost to meet, but might as well, instead of some rando. It’d be cool to meet a real exciting person.
5. If you’re only allowed one condiment the rest of your life, which would you choose?
AN: Absolutely, hands down, mustard. Mustard’s my favorite.
AVC: Do you pair it with the usual stuff, or is there something really out-there that you put it on?
AN: I eat mustard on just about everything. I love mustard. It’s good on a sandwich, it’s good on a burger. I’m a pescatarian, so I eat a lot of fish, and I feel like mustard’s really good with fish. If you have salmon patties, or something like that, it’s good as a dipping sauce. So, it doesn’t just go on sandwiches, it goes on everything. You can make it as a base for a salad dressing—it’s just the best.
6. In what type of social situation are you most uncomfortable?
AN: Honestly, it’s kinda weird, but I don’t love parties. I like the idea of parties, but I always feel—we have parties at my house a lot, and I’m always like, “Ugh, parties.” I feel like, because I never have meaningful conversations with people, I’m always just kind of… you don’t wanna get stuck, so I just keep it a little surface, but then, by the end of the night, you feel gross ’cause you didn’t have any meaningful interactions with people. So, I’m just not really good at it. I’m not good at small talk and party talk.
AVC: Is it easier to be the host of a party or the guest, in terms of limiting your interactions?
AN: In some ways, it’s both. I think when you’re the host, it’s easier because you can get out of conversations, ’cause you can make up something that you have to go do. So that makes it a little bit easier, but then yeah, being a guest at a party is always hard. Because I’m in entertainment, I think people just assume that I’m gonna be a great party guest. So, I feel extra pressure, that when I’m not a great party guest I feel like a real disappointment.
7. What was your dream job when you were a kid?
AN: It’s funny, because it was to be a bus driver. I really wanted so badly to be a bus driver. And not just necessarily a school bus driver, but any kind of bus driver. And my grandparents had this really great staircase in their house that had the main stairs that went straight up, but then it had a little curve at the bottom with two stairs, and that would be where I would sit, and then the rest of the stairs would be where all the rest of the passengers would sit, and I played school bus all the time. I thought it was gonna be the coolest job ever.
AVC: What, if anything, made you change your mind?
AN: Actually it was a long bus ride, and it was hell. So, I’m really glad I didn’t actually go into being a bus driver. And I always wonder, “Man, those bus drivers, they’ve gotta be awake and alert for long periods of time.” If I’m driving on a road trip or something, I’m like, “This is terrible.” I can’t imagine doing it for eight hours, you know?
AVC: Yeah. They’re the real heroes.
AN: [Laughs.] It’s true.
8. What do you watch when you’re in a hotel?
AN: One of my favorite things to watch—and you can usually find a marathon of it—is Bar Rescue, that terrible show where they go into bars and fix them, ’cause the bars are terrible and they have mice and gross stuff. So, Bar Rescue’s a good one. I also love Forensic Files, which is one of those murder shows where they help solve—it’s all about how they solved this crime with the use of forensics. Yeah, those are my two.
AVC: We kind of asked this of our staff last year, and those reality shows and true-crime shows come up a lot. They’re definitely things that you can drop in and out of. You don’t need to watch the previous episode of a shitty bar to know this new restaurant or bar is also shitty.
AN: Yeah, absolutely.
9. Do you think art should be separated from the artist?
AN: Oh, I never thought about that question before. I guess it depends on the type of art that you do, ’cause sometimes I feel like stuff can be really personal, and then it kinda has to be connected to the artist. But then I feel like stuff can be really separate as well. So I think that yes and no.
AVC: That just comes up more now that we’re learning terrible things about people who make some of our favorite things.
AN: Right, right. I know, it’s such a hard question, ’cause it’s the same thing with politics, or a boss. Could a boss be a good boss but not have a good, upstanding personal life? I think it’s so hard. But, I feel like if it’s… I don’t know, it’s so hard. I do think that people have to be held accountable for what they do, but it’s such a tough question because you wanna appreciate them for their product, but if they’re a terrible person, it’s hard to support somebody, I guess.
10. What’s the most difficult professional decision you’ve ever had to make?
AN: Wow, let’s see. I think it was either to move away from Atlanta or to not move away from Atlanta, because growing up, I didn’t always know that I was gonna actually be an actor. I always wanted to be an actor, but I didn’t think it was a viable career choice. And then I just got lucky and it kinda happened for me. And the big thing is, well, if you’re gonna be successful, you’ve gotta leave, you’ve gotta go to L.A. or New York. So, I always thought that’s what I was gonna do, and I never did because I was always working in Atlanta. And then now, Atlanta has, luckily for me, kind of exploded as a hub for entertainment. So, that’s kind of an amazing thing that I got to take advantage of.
And then I kinda came around to the idea that all the talented people in the world don’t live in two cities, they live all over the world, all over the country, and there’s little pockets—you go to Austin, and there’s an amazing art scene there, and there’s little pockets of stuff. So, I’ve kinda become more of a champion of artists who don’t find themselves on the coasts. And with technology, I can audition for a voice gig from my closet. So, that’s always something that I’ve struggled with, and I still am. Like, I spent a month in New York this year, ’cause I have to be there. So that’s definitely a tough one.
11. If you had to stay one age forever, what would it be and why?
AN: I think I would go with 35. I’m 40 now, and I feel like 35 because you’re still young enough that you’re looking good, but you’re old enough that you know some stuff. And I’m saying that now ’cause I’m 40, but if you ask me this question in 10 years, I’d probably say 45, ’cause I’m like, “God, I didn’t know anything when I was 40.” [Laughs.] But, yeah, I feel like that’s a good middle age where you’re like, “Okay, I know some stuff, but I still have a pep in my step,” you know?
AVC: Absolutely. Do you have a standout moment from being 35?
AN: Yeah, I got married when I was 35, actually.
AVC: Oh, then 35 is great. You just get to keep getting married.
AN: Totally. Permanent honeymoon!
12. From Travis McElroy: Based on your own personality and what you know about yourself, what superpower do you think you’d actually have?
AN: Oh, that’s a good one. I think my superpower would be that, if people were in my presence, they would be incapable of being rude.
AVC: Ooh, can you expand on that?
AN: It would just be this barrier that would—see, people would just end up in this bubble that kept them from being a jerk, where they’d be like, “Oh, let me get the door for somebody.” I’m Southern, I grew up in the South—there’s things that I see in other places when I travel that I’m really mad about, like people who don’t thank you if you let them over in traffic, or they don’t thank you if you hold the door for them, or they don’t hold the door for you, or people that laugh at people that trip, or just being shitty. I think my superpower would be if they were in the orb of my presence, they’d be in this bubble where they had to act nice.
AVC: What would be the range on that bubble? Would it be just the room or the building you were in?
AN: I feel like it’d be pretty small, actually. It’d probably only be the room, maybe 20 feet around me, 20 feet radius, yeah.
AVC: Yeah, that’s solid. And finally, here’s your opportunity to ask a question of the next interviewee, without knowing who they are.
AN: If you were a fancy dinner, what would you be and why? What about that meal represents who you are as a person?