EXCLUSIVE Interview With DUNCANVILLE And BLACK MONDAY Star Yassir Lester
We've been thrilled with Duncanville which premiered on FOX a week ago and benefits from the mind of Amy Poehler. The cast includes Yassir Lester who we were able to catch up with. Check it out!
Amy is not only behind the series but she also pulls double duty when voice acting for it - lending her unique personality to both the titular character and his mother. The rest of the voice cast is boasting with star power such as Ty Burrell (Modern Family, The Incredible Hulk), Rashida Jones (The Office, I Love You Man), Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel and Oates), and Wiz Khalifa (Mack and Devin go to High School). In addition to all of this massive star power the cast also includes Yassir Lester, star of Black Monday which sees its Season 2 premiere on Showtime this next month.
We were given the opportunity to catch up with Yassir and ask him some questions about the new animated comedy series he's a part of. We discuss what it's like to work alongside such big stars, the differences between voice acting and the rest of his career choices, and the inspiration pulled from other FOX series for his character of Yangzi. We also touch on where the show is headed a bit but there are no spoilers so go ahead and dig right in!
Joe:Duncanville only has two episodes released so far but it feels to be inspired by other FOX adult animation series like Futurama and Bob's Burgers. Do you pull inspiration from anywhere specific when lending to your character?
Yassir Lester: Um, well as far as inspiration for the character goes - I'm from Atlanta so I always try to think of those kids who are always selling t-shirts and cds, you know? And I feel like with our type of comedy its a lot like Family Guy where a lot of the humor is so quick that you might not realize everything the first time you watch it.
Joe: Yeah I definitely recognized that with your character and the rest of the show. I've noticed that you do catch more things every time you watch it, much like MacFarlane's humor. Do you feel like the team is able to cross the boundaries they want to or do you feel like some of the raunchier comedy is restricted?
Yassir Lester: Well, obviously it all depends on where your show is. If we were streaming on Cartoons.biz or something I'm sure we could get away with a lot more but because Duncanville airs on FOX, we obviously have more restrictions and guidelines based on that. But to be fair, I don't feel like we have been restricted from the message we have been trying to get across. The place that this type of comedy exists fits on FOX.
Joe: In one of your featurettes available to view on Hulu you mentioned how insane it is for you to be sitting around a table with legends such as Amy Poehler, Ty Burrell, and Rashida Jones. Do you feel any more comfortable around them now that you've spent more time together?
Yassir Lester: No! I mean, going in to work and seeing these people - its still Amy Poehler and Wiz Khalifa and Ty Burrell, I'm still star-stuck, you know? And even Riki Lindhome who is blowing up right now, and Rashida Jones who has the most amazing voice. Its still kind of unreal.
Joe: Speaking of Amy, she actually pulls double duty voicing Duncan and his mother similar to what Justin Roiland does with Rick and Morty. During the table reads, what is it like to see her switch back and forth between the characters?
Yassir Lester: It's crazy actually. You know, for no reason other than the way the scripts are built but a lot of the conversations at the table are Amy talking to herself because these two characters interact so much together. She really performs when it comes to these characters.
Joe: Since you mentioned Wiz Khalifa, what's it like to listen to his music in the freetime now that you guys are coworkers?
Yassir Lester: You know, I've actually only been in a room with Wiz Khalifa once so far so its still pretty new to me but I did listen to his music before and I still do, and its interesting because he brings such an amazing vibe to Duncanville with his character.
Joe: Now, you've done a lot of work ranging from writing on different networks, starring in different shows, podcasting, performing stand-up, and more. How would you rank voice acting compared to the other things you choose to do?
Yassir Lester: You know what, all of these things are different and they have their own perks. Such as with podcasting I could technically do my job in my pajamas. Not that I'm doing my job in my pajamas, but you get what I mean. But what is interesting is that with voice acting I have to take care of my voice unlike my other jobs. Now I'm in this position where for the first time I'm waking up at 8 am and screaming at the top of my lungs so in that way its a bit different.
Joe: When you voice Yangzi, do you only get into character when recording or is it something you do ahead of time to practice?
Yassir Lester: Well, since what I basically do is pitch up and speed up my voice, I try not to do it around people too often unless I'm recording. I know if someone was doing that around me all the time I wouldn't like it. (laughs)
Joe: Other than your character, do you have another favorite character on Duncanville?
Yassir Lester: Man, that's really putting me in a tough spot. I really like the core characters of the family so much, but also the supporting characters are also very strong on their own.
Even without considering Mr. Mitch, Bex, Wolf, Yangzi, and Mia, the family are still great characters at the core of the show. I do really like Jing a lot, the youngest character. She's so young but very witty and one of the best characters on the show.
Joe: I think the pilot episode of Duncanville was really strong, which can be a very difficult thing for a new series to do. Can you tell us anything about what's to come in the upcoming episodes for your character?
Yassir Lester: Well, there are still some really big guest stars coming. And more than that, as much as I don't want to give any spoilers I will say that the main theme of this show is that Duncan and his friends never learn their lesson. So while the first couple of episodes might be wild and crazy, the adventures definitely ramp up.
Joe: Lastly, if you were able to lend your talents to any character or franchise, what would you chose?
Yassir Lester: I mean, FOX has the best cartoons. So I would obviously have to say either The Simpsons or Family Guy. As a kid I always really liked Bart Simpson so I would have to say that he would be awesome to play.What do you guys think of this exclusive interview with Lester? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and be sure to check out the preview for Duncanville, only on FOX.
Duncanville is a new Adult Animated series from the minds of Amy Poehler (SNL, Parks and Recreation), Mike Scully (The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond), and Julie Thacker (Bojack Horseman) which follows the adventures of Duncan, an average 15 year old boy who is always one step away from making a bad decision. Join Duncan as he navigates through adolescense with the help of his family and friends.
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