Gina Yashere has had one crazy year.
In addition to joining the cast of The Daily Show as their resident ‘Brexpert,’ the British comedian is preparing for the release of her Netflix special included in season 2 of the series ‘The Standups.’ She’s also voicing the role of Gravelle in the new animated feature from the creators of Wallace and Gromit ‘Early Man,’ out this Friday. We go the chance to speak with Gina over the phone while she’s currently doing shows in Malaysia, and we discussed her unique career journey, weird American traditions she’s observed, and her new movie ‘Early Man.
The Knockturnal: You have so many projects going on right now, are you at all overwhelmed?
Gina Yashere: Not really! I mean that’s basically what we all aspire to is to get as much work as possible, so I’m just juggling and enjoying it.
The Knockturnal: Obviously, one of your big things right now is the Daily Show and joining that team. What was your process like joining them?
Gina Yashere: There was no process. I received a text one day saying ‘Hey Gina are you in New York?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah who’s this?’ and a text comes back saying ‘This is Trevor,’ and I’m like ‘I’m from England I know about 20 Trevors, Trevor who?’ and he went ‘Trevor Noah’ and I was like ‘Yeah yeah hey Trevor! Yeah, I’m in New York.’ And he’s like I’d love for you to come down to the studio, I’d like for you to do some work with us, and I was like ‘yeah, cool’ and that was my process.
The Knockturnal: Were you a fan of the show before?
Gina Yashere: I’m a fan of Trevor because I know Trevor, I’ve bumped into him all over the world doing shows. We see each other, I bumped into him in Austrailia, bumped into him in South Africa, and I bumped into him in New York when he was moving out here to do stuff. We’ve always sort of been sort of fans of each other. I wasn’t a massive fan of the show before I started doing it. I didn’t watch it, but I don’t really watch that much TV because I’m constantly traveling and doing stuff.
The Knockturnal: Yeah, what are you doing in Malaysia right now if I may ask?
Gina Yashere: Doing shows, I’m touring. Basically, I’m avoiding New York winter. Soon as it starts to get cold, I book shows in hot countries!
The Knockturnal: Coming to New York as a UK-based comedian, what do you find are the types of jokes that play better in the UK, or play better in America?
Gina Yashere: Most of my stuff plays well because part of my love of doing comedy is being able to travel around the world doing this. So most of my stuff, it travels quite well. I’ve not had a major problem bringing my material over to the States. Sometimes I might have to explain a little bit more, so let’s say I’ve got a routine about being in Malaysia, most Americans wouldn’t know where Malaysia is, I’d have to explain that a little bit first then go into material. Other than that and slowing down my British accent, because I can talk pretty fast. I’m from East London and we talk pretty fast so when you’re in full Cockney mode Americans won’t really understand you. So basically slowing down the speed of my speech, flattening out my accent a little bit to make myself understood more, and explaining certain things at the top of my sets, but that’s about it.
The Knockturnal: Whats an American tradition that you’ve observed as the weirdest?
Gina Yashere: It’s funny how into Halloween they are! That’s weird because when I firsts moved to America I went to LA and it went crazy around Halloween with the costumes. Like in England we do Halloween, but nothing like that! In England Halloween is more for the kids, take the kids out trick or treating and whatever, so I was very surprised at how the adults got really into Halloween.
The Knockturnal: Well, I want to talk about your new movie Early Man because that’s really exciting. How’d you get involved?
Gina Yashere: It’s so funny, I have no idea! I just got a call from my manager in England saying, ‘Oh these people are interested in you’ because I’ve done comedy kind of voiceover stuff before. I did a cartoon a few years ago called ‘Bromwell High,’ and my voice is very distinct so either you like it or you don’t, so I just got a call saying ‘these guys would love for you to come in and read for this part. They think your voice would be perfect for it,’ so I was like ‘Great’ and I went in and just had really a lot of fun with it. There’s such freedom in just doing your voice, just playing with it, and yeah they like it and that was it. There were like ‘Yeah we love it, come in and do some more!’ I don’t do the 7 audition process, I’ve never done that. Either people just see me and go ‘Oh we like her, lets book her,’ I’ve never done the whole thing where I audition and get called back again because I’m a comedian, I’m not coming from that actor background where you’re used to auditioning for things, I’ve never done that. People just go, ‘We saw Gina on this thing, let’s get her for our thing’ and that’s basically how a lot of my work comes about.
The Knockturnal: When you we recording this part did you get to ad-lib or put your own spin on it, does that happen a lot with your voiceover?
Gina Yashere: Yeah I’ll throw some stuff in and they’ll go ‘Oh that’s funny we’ll keep that,” so yeah there’s a few ad-libs in there. Like if they have something written on the page I’ll change it to make it sound more like what I think the character would sound like and they gave me plenty of freedom to do that.
The Knockturnal: Did you record your parts alone or did you get to work off of anyone?
Gina Yashere: Completely alone, I’ve never met any of the other cast! [laughs]
The Knockturnal: Will you get to meet them soon do you think?
Gina Yashere: Probably not, because I’m out of the country. I don’t know if they’re doing the whole red carpet premiere thing but I’m traveling, I’m out of the country so I’m probably going to miss that anyway.
The Knockturnal: This comes from the creators of Wallace and Gromit, were you a fan of that?
Gina Yashere: Oh yeah! Definitely, I love animation. I mean it’s amazing how painstaking it is to make a really good one and how long it takes because I started working on this show at least a year ago, more than that!
The Knockturnal: Such a long process. You have a Netflix special coming out, so what kind of stuff can we expect to see there?
Gina Yashere: It was shot in Los Angeles, and basically its just me talking about my journey from London, England how I ended up in America. My experiences since I moved to America, it’s a condensed life story, but hilarious!