by Ryan Meehan
Comedian Lisa Kushell Arch was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. Lisa has been writing and performing since the age of 15 and has had an interesting and varied career. Lisa’s extensive acting experience includes being a series regular on season three of Mad TV, as well as making several guest-star appearances on shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, The X-Files, Austin and Ally, Charmed, and Reno 911.She has also appeared in several movies, including Legally Blonde, Guess Who, and Comedy Central’s Windy City Heat. An accomplished host, Lisa guest-hosted many episodes of Style Network’s Clean House and spent three seasons as the co-host of TBS’ Dinner and a Movie. She also co-hosted such shows as Oxygen’s Pajama Party and Watch This on the TV Guide Channel, as well as helming her own Style Network show, What I Hate About Me. You may have also seen her on Comedy Central’s Reel Comedy, interviewing stars like Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Robin Williams and Jeff Daniels. You have heard Lisa’s many voices on the WB’s Mission Hill and Steven Speilberg’s animated series Toonsylvania, as well as TV and radio spots for Geico, Amtrak, Mervyn’s, Fresh Express, and Lexus and promos for the WB. She makes her home in Los Angeles with her fantastic husband and wonderful son, plus a dog, and a cat. And to top it all off, she was cool enough to be our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: How did your career in the entertainment industry begin? How much of your interest in show business was based on growing up in Los Angeles?
LKA: I think a HUGE part of my interest in show business was because of growing up in L.A. I never felt like it was intangible. It was all around me and seemed within my reach… Even though I knew no one in the business when I was growing up. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I saw Whoopi Goldberg’s HBO special when I was 12 years old. I memorized one of her monologues and performed it for my parents. I think we all knew at that moment that I needed to perform. I was in theater all through junior high and high school, but didn’t audition for any real jobs until I was almost 20 years old. I waited tables, did local theater (sketch comedy and improv) and auditioned, knowing it was all I wanted to do. My first job was as a waitress on Dream On. I had one line and got my SAG card. A couple years later (or longer), I booked Seinfeld, then a few other jobs, then Mad TV.
FOH: You left MADtv after just one season…How would you describe the overall experience of being on that show? If you could go back and stay longer would you have done so?
LKA: There were so many good things about Mad TV, and so many disappointments. The overall experience was not great. I don’t think I was ready for the big leagues. I didn’t know how to deal with the politics, or how to keep my head down and do my job. But I learned a TON, had a blast with the work, and met my husband on that show. And to be very honest… I would have loved a couple more years, and a few more Susan Whitfield sketches.
FOH: I’m trying to find a way to ask this question without stereotyping by gender, so if that doesn’t work I apologize in advance. You were a co-host on TBS’ “Dinner and a Movie” from 2002 to 2005, do you consider yourself to be a skilled in the culinary field? What’s your favorite cuisine to make when you’re at home with your family?
LKA: OMG! That’s not gender stereotyping at ALL!! You want to know something? I LOVE HOUSEWIFE STUFF!! I love cooking so much. Feeding people I love is one of my favorite things to do. Before Dinner and a Movie, I could barely cut a carrot or poach a chicken breast. That show, and Claud Mann who was the chef on that show, made me unafraid to try things in the kitchen. I completely credit that experience with teaching me how to cook. One of my favorite things to make is turkey chili. I also love making pasta with sausage, peppers, and onions. And I love to bake anything, but mostly pumpkin and banana bread. Oh, and I cook Thanksgiving dinner every year. All of it (except my husband makes the mashed potatoes.) It’s my favorite day of the year.
FOH: I see that your brother worked with your husband on the internet talk show “Anytime With Bob Kushell”…Were there ever any awkward situations that arose because of that setup?
LKA: That show ended a couple of years ago and it was an incredibly fun time for all of us. They shot it in our garage, so there were many early mornings when I would wake up, disheveled and taking care of the baby, and some celebrity would be in our kitchen getting coffee. They shot hilarious sketches and great interviews and I got to watch the whole process. It was a blast. We still have the set in our garage, so there might be a Lisa Arch talk show in the works someday. I’d probably just be interviewing my neighbors or other moms…
FOH: Has being a mother at all changed the way you choose which roles you are going to take on? Is there any type of role that you absolutely won’t do now that you have a son?
LKA: I can’t really think of anything I wouldn’t do because of being a mom. But I will tell you that being a mom has made me “drop out” of the business a little. I’ll try to not say something corny like, “The best role I’ve ever played is ‘Mom’”… But it is. I love taking my kid to school, picking him up, grocery shopping with him, going to the library, taking him on play dates. I waited until I was 35 to get pregnant, and I think my age has a lot to do with how much of my passion in life has switched to being a mother. I still want to work, but I’m not exactly sure in what capacity. I know I’ll be on camera again, and I’ll probably do some writing, but it’s hard for me to imagine spending long periods of time away from my son. I’m still figuring out how it’ll all fit together, and it might not fit together at all. If it doesn’t, I’ll spend a lot of time volunteering at school, cooking, and trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I also write a blog, (although I’ve been pretty lazy lately) www.flawlessmom.com. It’s meant to be sarcastic. I really do NOT think I’m a flawless mom.
FOH: What’s next for Lisa in the twelve months to come? Any big plans?
LKA: No big plans right now. I have a web series that I’m working on for a network and I truly am trying to figure out my next steps. The business has changed so much in the last 15 years. Jobs I used to get are now going to celebrities, so it’s harder and harder to find those jobs. And the hosting gigs are not nearly as fruitful as they used to be. Now it’s more about making my own work. I intend to do that, but it’s hard between doing errands, doing laundry, cooking meals, making lunches, and driving all around town. We don’t have “help”, because I like to do it alone. But if the right work comes, we’ll adjust. I just don’t want to miss out on any moments, big or small. My son is only going to be five once, and six and seven… I believe with all my heart that the perfect opportunities for me will come, and they will not take me too far away for too long.
Lisa’s official Website: www.FlawlessMom.com
Lisa on Twitter: @Flawless_Mom
Lisa on Facebook:
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