Lucky Yates Talks Krieger, Crackers the Macaw and ‘Archer: Danger Island’ (Interview)
The FXX hit animated series Archer is about to totally shake things up in its upcoming ninth season. Everyone’s favorite motley crew of dysfunctional secret agents is about to be revamped and reimagined once more as they embark on an island filled with danger at every turn. The synopsis for this season pretty much says it all.
Though the original vocal cast including H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walter, Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell, Amber Nash, Adam Reed and Lucky Yates are all returning this season, their characters might seem a little different. For example, in Archer: Danger Island, Sterling Archer (voiced by Benjamin) is now a pilot with his trusty sidekick Pam Poovey (voiced by Nash). Lana Kane (voiced by Tyler) is now Princess Lanaluakalani while Malory Archer (voiced by Walter) runs a hotel on the island of Mitimotu. These are just a few character shake-ups that fans can expect to see this season.
Perhaps the most significant change this season is with Lucky Yates’ character, Dr. Algernop Krieger who doesn’t exist in Danger Island at all. Say whaaaaat? You heard us! No Krieger! Instead, enter Crackers – an audacious and wise-ass, talking macaw!
We recently had the honor and privilege of chatting with Krieger/Crackers actor Lucky Yates ahead of the season nine premiere. In addition to discussing his extensive career in voice acting and improv, Lucky dished on his favorite Krieger-isms, his new character Crackers (and how his experiences with potty training as a child inspired the character’s name), what fans can look forward to in season nine and much, MUCH more!
Denise Caputo: Congratulations on the upcoming 9th season of Archer! Before we get into talking about the new season, tell me a little bit about how you ended up in voice acting, and how you eventually landed the role of Krieger in Archer.
Lucky Yates: Oh, boy, this is a long road. It all kind of springs out of Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, which is where Amber Nash [who plays Pam Poovey in Archer] and myself both worked. Dad’s Garage started in 1995 and I’ve been working there since 1997. Adult Swim came about and started growing up around the same time Dad’s Garage was growing up and there was a little bit of crossover with the show Sealab 2021.
One of the guys in the improv ensemble [of Dad’s Garage] became an artist and animator on that show. Since we were friends and they would have parties, a bunch of us would go over to the parties, and that’s where we got to know Matt [Thompson] and Adam [Reed] who were the executive producer and creator/writing team. At the time, we were all just pals.
Then, Frisky Dingo came along and they were looking for characters. Amber became the assassin, Val, on that show, and I was one of the Xtacles. If you’re not familiar with Frisky Dingo, it’s basically if Archer was Iron Man. It was a really a precursor to Archer. So, Amber and I worked on that show with our pals for this quirky little thing on Adult Swim. It was fun while also doing stuff at Dad’s Garage. I also did radio here in town and I emceed a burlesque show for a few years and that’s also where Matt and Adam saw me perform. They really loved my voice.
When Archer came along, they immediately gave the role of Pam to Amber and finally, when Krieger started talking in the third or fourth episode, they brought me in because we had all worked together before. They said, “Hey, we want you to try this out. We have no idea if you’re going to get approved or if you’ll get the job but we would like you to play this character, so here you go.” So, I did it! The deadline came along and the network responded by saying, “Oh, yeah, we like this guy! He’s great!” And that was it. Then, I just became Krieger. It all started as just a fun thing to do with my pals.
Doing Archer, especially in that first season and since we all record separately, it was just another, “Oh, we’re going into a recording booth and recording our lines for another Matt and Adam show. Who knows what will happen?” Well, then shit. Things hit!
DC: Awesome! So, your background is really in improv then?
LY: Yeah, I do it every single weekend at Dad’s Garage. That’s what Dad’s Garage Theatre Company is – it’s an improv theater company. We do scripted work, but it’s all original scripted work that we write. All of our work is self-generated but improv is at the core of everything we do. Without fail, we do improv several nights a week. We never close!
DC: That’s cool! So, relating that to Archer, is any of your dialogue improvised or do you stick to the script?
LY: We do it as written. I cannot give Adam Reed enough credit. He is really the sole writer of this show, and the scripts are so tight that there’s no real reason to improvise our way through them. We’ll never get funnier results. We do fudge around with lines sometimes, when something’s on the page like a comeback or a snarky joke. We’ll do that as written but sometimes we’ll bounce things and screw around to come up with maybe some better options, or at least other options in case they want to test them out.
We record the show separately because we’re all spread out across the country. Since we’re not there play off of one another, you can’t really improvise anyway. If you change anything then suddenly lines that someone has already recorded won’t make any sense.
DC: That makes total sense. So, let’s talk about your character on Archer, Algernop Krieger. He’s pretty much one of the strangest characters on the show and that’s kind of saying a lot given the others in this series. Fans absolutely love this character! What do you think it is about Krieger that makes everyone love him?
LY: Yeah, if we’re talking about strangest, I would put him at number one because everybody else has this awesome badass-ness about them, but he’s just flat out weird. He happens to have f–ked up scientific know-how, and I think everybody loves a lovable mad scientist. Look at Rick and Morty. Somebody who can create absurd, freakish things is always going to play well to an adult audience that’s already watching a bawdy television show. I like to put Krieger, Rick and Thaddeus Venture [from The Venture Bros] into the same pot just because they’re sort of like the adult mad scientists of right now.
With Krieger, when it comes down to it, he’s really got a great heart. He’s always there to help everybody whether they want it or not. He makes himself available. He’s always committed to his relationships whether it was to Cheryl early in the show and then to his hologram bride. He’s very committed to her. I think he’s a good guy even though he’s f–king crazy and f–ked up. He’s got this weird past where you’re not quite sure if he is a clone. Is he related to Hitler or is he from some weird Nazi background? He’s got a dark, weird, mysterious past and that’s intriguing to people too. I think ultimately he hits because he’s a good guy. He’ll save the day. He’ll just do it in a really, really f–ked up way.
DC: He certainly has some of the best one-liners and some of the craziest dialogue on the show. Do you have a favorite Krieger-ism or a favorite Krieger one-liner?
LY: Yeah! There’s a couple of them. “Smoke Bomb,” I think is great. That was one line that wasn’t originally in the script. With whatever line was in the script, we said, “Yeah, we’re not quite sure how that played.” So we just started throwing things back and forth between myself and the booth, and we landed on, “Smoke Bomb!” We thought it was great. Then, it sort of bled into other things.
I also I love the old, “Me too,” when Krieger would scream that after somebody would say something really weird. Although, those two words have a very different meaning in 2018 than they did once upon a time. I don’t know that we’ll be seeing that gag at least for a while.
Finally, I can completely retire from acting after getting to do the final rant from the original Planet of the Apes. The whole, “you maniacs,” rant. The original Planet of the Apes is one of my top three favorite films of all time. I absolutely adore that film so getting to do those lines as Krieger with it being a recurring thing? Oh, my God! I love it. It’s just the best!
DC: Awesome! Archer is about to enter into its ninth season which is super impressive for a television show. I think part of its success and longevity has to do with the series’ ability to continue to reinvent itself. What started as a take-off from a James Bond-ish type theme lead eventually to last season’s noir style Dreamland and now, we’re heading to Danger Island, which is supposed to be drastically different. What can you tell us about Danger Island and what can fans expect from the upcoming season as it relates to other seasons?
LY: Oh, yeah, it’s completely different! For starters, there is no Krieger in Danger Island. I’m playing a parrot named Crackers. There’s not even an idea of Krieger! He does not exist in the universe. It’s this bird named Crackers who I absolutely love! Man, I love, love, love Crackers! He’s such a great character.
The thing that I think jarred a lot of people about Dreamland is that we did a true noir. We did an eight-episode arc of a film noir story like it was a big long film. Those aren’t hilarious. Now, we were funny within those eight episodes. There were jokes and hilarious moments, but the focus was on doing that genre. Man, the network fought tooth and nail for every bit of comedy that ended up in them because the early scripts were dark. We were going for it. Of course, everybody involved on our side, the cast side and I think Adam, we were so into it. We just thought, “Oh, my God, this is so great. Let’s do something completely different.”
Dreamland still came out pretty dark. This next one, Danger Island, is absolutely not. We are back to bright and dumb, funny humor. There are dangers from the island in every single episode. It’s an action-adventure comedy set in 1939. It’s just a good time. It’s laugh-out-loud every episode!
DC: What can you tell us about Crackers? Is that Krieger in avian form, or is he completely different?
LY: No, he’s completely 100% different. Crackers is a wise-ass bird that’s been around for a long time. In Danger Island, Archer is a pilot for hire on this island. Pam is his sidekick/copilot and she’s seven feet tall in this episode. Almost like they’re a ‘Han and Chewie’ type team. Then, I’m a bird that hangs out with them. Malory [Archer] owns a hotel that’s on the island and Lana [Kane] is a princess. She’s the daughter of the King that runs the entire island. It’s great. Then Cyril [Figgis] is different also. Cyril’s not Cyril. He’s a guy named Siegbert Fuchs. There’s a big shift. It’s really great.
DC: So, then there’s no chance of parrot clones this season relating to Krieger?
LY: No, and you know what? This was something that was bounced around. I’ll give you the story of how we ended up on the name Crackers though. Once upon a time, the character was going to be a dog and it was going to be named after my actual dog, Abe Jackson. Adam has originally said, “All right. You’re going to be a talking dog. Here are three names. Should we call him Krieger? Should we call him Lucky, or should we call him Abe Jackson?” I said, “Well, I like Abe Jackson. Here’s why. If we just call him Lucky, it just seems too on the nose for this style of show that we’re doing. If we call him Krieger, everybody’s just going to expect that it’s a clone or it’s a robot underneath or everyone’s going to be wondering if it’s really Krieger that made himself a dog. It’s just going to be all these questions that just aren’t fair so, let’s name him after my dog.” Adam agreed.
It wasn’t even a week later when Adam said to me, “Hey, we’re changing it to a bird. So, given the same things, what should we name the bird?” Again, my thoughts were, “Well, again, let’s not name him Krieger because everybody will think he’s a clone bird.” However, when I was a little child, about three years old, my parents bribed me with the promise of getting me a parakeet if I would finally poop on the potty regularly. I really wanted a parakeet! When I finally started pooping on the potty, they bought me a parakeet, and I named the parakeet, Crackers! Adam loved it. He said, “That is brilliant. Also, Crackers kind of sounds like Krieger. It’s a great name, so we’re going to call him that if you’re cool with it.” To name it after the bird I got from pooping, well, that’s awesome. So, that’s Crackers’ story.
DC: Oh, God, that’s hysterical! Switching gears a little bit away from Archer, you’re also buddies with Alton Brown, who I also love, and I hear that Good Eats is coming back this year at some point. You get to be a part of it again. Is there anything that you can tell us or tease about the upcoming season of Good Eats?
LY: I wish I could tease things. Alton is in development mode right now. He’s locking it down. As for details about what we’re actually going to do? I don’t know yet. I guess I’ll find out when they send me a script. I know he’s just on lockdown in development mode, but it’s coming, and I’m assuming The Dungeon Master will be there. I will insist upon it!
He also wants to do a lot more with this next version of Good Eats since so many options have opened up since we did the last version of the show. Now, there’s streaming and all the social networks little blips and bloops. I think he’s looking to spread out bits from that show into other formats. He’s planning a lot, which is great!
DC: That’s great. Looking forward to that! So, being a nerd from way back in the day, I adore Homestar Runner and Strongbad, and I know you have a connection there as well. Could you talk about that a little bit?
LY: Yeah, they are two of my very best friends [Mike and Matt Chapman aka. The Brothers Chapman, the creators of Homestar Runner]. I hang out with them several times a week. They’re great and, yes, Homestar Runner. That’s back! They do updates and new cartoons. There’s also a Trogdor board game which they’re developing. I think they were just at PAX East trying that out with fans. I’ve played it with them all throughout the development of the game. It’s just a lot of fun. It moves quickly. People work together. It’s a blast, and you play as Trogdor which is really great!
DC: Oh, cool! Looking forward to that, for sure! So, here at Fan Fest News, we’re a site that’s for fans, by fans, meaning we celebrate the things that we love and that our readers love today in pop culture. With that said, what are some things (tv shows, movies, music, books, etc.) in pop culture that you fanboy over or that you love?
LY: Pop culture today? I mentioned The Venture Bros earlier. Man, I nerd for that show! It speaks to every bit of me so, that’s a huge, huge one. I was ten years old when the original Star Wars came out, so I was exactly the audience that went all-in from ’77 on. I’m really digging all the Star Wars stuff that’s rolling in lately too. I’ve not been disappointed yet, and as much as I was dubious of the idea of there being a Han Solo prequel, man, everything I’m seeing looks f–king awesome! I think I’m going to love this movie. I feel like Disney has got it going on both with Marvel and Star Wars. They may be our overlords soon if the whole Fox merger happens. Oh my God! What if there are just big Krieger characters at Disney World? It can’t just be a dude. It has to be a big head. I want all of them in the big head versions or an ice show!
DC: Disney would never be the same! In addition to what we’ve already talked about, do you have any upcoming projects that you want to share?
LY: Nothing I really can share just yet. I’ve got a lot of irons in a lot of fires. The scrambles on because you never know if and when Archer might come to an end. We know we’re going through season 10 but, after that, who knows? For right now, I’m continuing to do shows at Dad’s Garage all the time with Amber. Look out for our stuff and follow me on social media. I post all my crap on the Twitter.
DC: All right. Last question for you. Is there anything else that you want Archer fans to know about the upcoming season, or do you have anything you’d like to say to the fans of the series and your work?
LY: Yeah, just, hey, thanks! Thanks for making this show awesome. It’s so cliché to say it, but it really does ring true that like we love meeting and connecting with fans. When we go to cons and stuff like that, we are doing it for them. The fans have been so great. They’ve stuck with us and through genre-hopping and all. Even if they didn’t really care for it, they were excited to see what comes next. So, thanks fans! You’re great!
Thank you, Lucky Yates, for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to speak with us here at Fan Fest News! We greatly appreciate it, and we can’t wait to officially meet Crackers and the rest of the crazy characters on Archer: Danger Island.
Archer: Danger Island premieres Wednesday, April 25th at 10 PM EST only on FXX!