Well, geez. I'm from Memphis, Tennessee, and I've been acting since I was in junior high school. I've been on everything from SNL to 30 Rock, ANCHORMAN, HOT ROD, I also do a show called Rick & Morty, and lately I'm doing the voice of Cyril Figgis on FX's ARCHER, airing Thursday nights at 10 PM ET/PST.

I'm here to answer questions, and Victoria is here to help me (over the phone, that is).

Proof: http://imgur.com/U9RprHz

Update: Well, I'm so sorry, we've run out of time, but this was really fun, and you guys are all so nice and so kind. Thank you so much for all the really sweet things you had to say. It means a lot to me. And it's nice to know that there are so many people out there who enjoy what I do, and the shows I'm lucky enough to be a part of.

Comments: 2099 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

Pvt_MJCaboose2223 karma

Dr. Spaceman was one of my absolute favorite parts about 30 Rock, how much of that character did you get to create? I also can’t wait to hear more of you on Rick & Morty.

Chris-Parnell1491 karma

Oh, thanks!

I didn't really create any of it, beyond just doing it onscreen. But I do think the writers wrote it with me in mind. And that helped a lot.

dabrecque631 karma

what are the chances Dr. Spaceman getting his own spin off? But it follows the exact plots and story lines of "Joey"?

Chris-Parnell665 karma

Well, I think they're pretty slim, at this point.

But that would be pretty cool.

lmeaac306 karma

Did you film the original bit as Dr. Spaceman in Season 1 knowing he would be a recurring character, or was that decision made after the fact?

Chris-Parnell441 karma

As far as I know, the decision was made after the fact? But I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't some... I guess I don't honestly know the answer to that question. I think they might've hoped that it would work, and they could bring Dr. Spaceman back. That wouldn't surprise me. But I don't know that they had any definite plans to do so.

Theprofessor231194 karma

Why the hell aren't you wearing a sweater vest?! Also, what is your favorite Archer episode?

Chris-Parnell1817 karma

Hahaha! I don't wear sweater vests because I get overheated easily.

But my favorite ARCHER episode is probably the one where I impersonated a -gosh, I don't know what country it was - maybe a Columbian leader? It was one of the first ones I was an agent in the field, and i pulled it off pretty well.

MattBaster961 karma

Yo, what up, Parnes?! Andy Samberg has always said that he was heavily inspired by your rapping skills. What were your best raps before you two teamed up for Lazy Sunday?

And hey, I lived in Blytheville, AR for several years! Here's to the Midwest Midsouth!

Edit: Forgive me!

Chris-Parnell812 karma

Well, I did some raps on WEEKEND UPDATE on SNL - with Britney Spears, and Kirsten Dunst, and Jennifer Garner, and even Ashton Kutcher.

kevalopolis872 karma

Did you hear that Dan Aykroyd named you as one of his favorite SNL cast members when he was on Stern this week? Who are some of yours?

Chris-Parnell1198 karma

Wow! I did not know that! That is wildly flattering.

Jesus, that is so cool.

I guess my favorites would be... Mr. Aykroyd (and I would've said that even if he didn't say that about me), Dan and Bill Murray for sure, and I loved Chris Farley and Phil Hartman, and I loved Mr. Ferrell. But there's been so many greats. But those would be my standouts. Also Horatio Sanz.

Howard_Langston565 karma

Excuse me. I'm trying to find a Turbo Man doll. Do you have anymore in the back?

Chris-Parnell452 karma

I never got one of those. But you might check eBay.

seismicor561 karma

Hi, can you tell us anything about the second season of Rick and Morty? The show is awesome by the way!

Chris-Parnell774 karma

Thank you!

It's gonna be amazing. I think I was even more amazed and dazzled reading the scripts for season 2. I don't remember that many specifics, other than that I know the animators really have their work cut out for them, because there are some really complex things happening with multiple dimensions being depicted onscreen. I'm excited to see it! I forget a lot of what I do after I do it, so that when I watch it, I'm also seeing it for the first time because I've forgotten a lot about it.

But it's gonna be great.

MerryPoppuns540 karma

Hi Chris! You make me laugh in almost everything you’re in. I especially love Dr. Leo Spaceman.

What’s your favorite/funniest memory of 30 Rock?

Chris-Parnell827 karma

Oh, that's so nice, thank you!

I guess it would probably be the episode where I ran into the operating room, covered in blood, and proceeded to explain why I was covered in blood - it had to do with killing a dog, as I remember.

Huicho4431 karma

God dammit Cyril!

I know you guys don't actually record together but who on the Archer staff is the funniest in person?

Chris-Parnell665 karma

The funniest in-person? Oh wow... I guess I'd have to say Jon. I mean, Jon really tickles me. They're all funny. But Jon probably tickles my funny bone the most.

suaveitguy406 karma

SNL at 40, favorite and least favorite moment?

Chris-Parnell1624 karma

My favorite moment was Bill Murray singing the "love theme to JAWS."

My least favorite moment, I guess, was Eddie Murphy coming out and not doing anything but saying "hi."

kja_ZOU327 karma

You once said that Will Ferrell saved you from being fired on SNL. Can you share more about what happened there?

Chris-Parnell536 karma

Yeah, sure! You know, as I understand it, both Will and Kattan went to bat for me to Lorne. And I think it certainly helped. And I know one of the writers T. Sean Shannon, he wrote a scathing sketch that was read (at the table, I understand it) that condemned my firing, and took everyone to task about it. Yeah, I never knew exactly why I was fired? I heard from somebody it might have been an NBC executive who didn't care for my stuff? But i think Will and Chris went to bat for me, which definitely helped.

It was crazy. It was a very difficult time. But I was very glad to go back to the show.

shivan21293 karma

Hi Chris! What is the biggest mistake Cyril has ever done?

Chris-Parnell587 karma

Oh, the biggest mistake Cyril has ever made... well, I guess letting Lana go, probably!

Ableyoungthug288 karma

I feel like whenever I see you in something you are alway rapping and do a pretty good job. Who's your favorite rapper and where did you learn to flow?

Chris-Parnell560 karma

You know, I just sort of... it came naturally, I guess? But keep in mind, it's just for comedy. I don't consider myself a real rapper.

But I quite liked the Notorious B.I.G.

Ableyoungthug148 karma

Did you ever meet Biggie?

Chris-Parnell418 karma

I did not, no. Not even close.

PurpleComet249 karma

Hi Chris! I've always enjoyed your work, particularly on SNL, Rick and Morty, 30 Rock, and Archer. My question is, who do you think would win in a rap battle between Cyril, Dr. Spaceman, and Jerry?

Chris-Parnell338 karma


Gosh, that's a tough one! I guess... I don't think we've heard any of them rap?

I think they would all lose. But if I have to pick one - maybe Jerry? I don't know why, but Jerry.

greg_is_greg244 karma

Hungry for apples?

Chris-Parnell233 karma

I'm a little hungry, and I could certainly eat an apple, but it wouldn't necessarily be my first choice right now.

budgiebum210 karma

Hello Mr. Parnell. I love you in Archer and I always found you to be one of the more hilarious cast members on SNL in your time :) I’m curious if you ever consider preforming at Dad’s Garage Theater Company in Atlanta with Lucky Yates and Amber Nash?

Also if you were frozen into your powerless home for 4 days with no escape, how would you keep yourself entertained? I was fortunate enough to have power restored this morning, so now I can watch Archer tonight before the next ice storm paralyzes North Georgia!

Chris-Parnell188 karma

No, I've never performed down there. I certainly have heard of it, and know about it, and know that it's a big part of Lucky and Amber's lives and they just bought a new place they are renovating and moving into, which is quite exciting, but no, I have not had the pleasure of performing there.

Haha! Well, I would probably just spend time playing with my son and my wife, probably reading some... mostly trying to keep them entertained, probably.

lmeaac200 karma

It seems like everyone who attended the the SNL after party on Sunday night has a crazy story to share from it, so what’s yours?

Chris-Parnell342 karma

Um - Kevin and John Farley, Chris' brothers, were pretending to hump me. Not for real, but just pretend. And they were just being really silly. And also just seeing Prince get up on-stage singing and playing the guitar. He was standing near me for a while, and people were saying Prince is behind you and I was like yes, I know. And I think Bill Murray got up there, and Debbie Harry, just a lot of people singing and performing. But it's when Prince got out there that people got their camera-phones out and were shooting it on their phones. That was pretty cool.

Frajer184 karma

How much of Lazy Sunday did you write?

Chris-Parnell339 karma

Well, it was me and Andy and Jorma and Akiva writing it together. You know, I wrote maybe... 15% of it? Yeah, probably 15%. I think the rest was split amongst those guys. Andy came up with a lot of the best stuff.

rororourboat152 karma

Hi Chris! Big fan of your work on SNL and Archer, but especially Suburgatory. I was really disappointed when it was cancelled. How would you have liked the Shay's story to have played out?

Chris-Parnell152 karma

Oh, thanks, yeah. I loved doing SUBURGATORY and getting to work with that cast, especially having Ana Gasteyer play my wife. I would've loved to have seen Victor grow up with the family, and have visits from Ryan, and see how Lisa develops as a young woman, and her relationship with Malik, that would've all been cool to see.

patrickgarone117 karma

Dr Poop/Vondruke Sketch*I'm a big fan of turn of the century SNL and I am obsessed with a sketch that you did where you and Molly Shannon are a couple called the Framinghams who go to see a Dr played by Will Farrell. The sketch starts out with a funny premise but becomes this glorious trainwreck. It became something totally different than what it started as. It felt very loose and improvised. Can you give any background about that sketch? Was it improvised? Did something happen that put it off the rails?

Chris-Parnell101 karma

I think Tim Meadows coming in - as I remember, we might have rehearsed it with the host coming in as Tim's part, and I don't remember who the host was, and then in-between dress and air, it changed to Tim, and i don't know if the lines changed or if Tim might have changed them himself or improvised a little bit, and I think that really started the ball rolling, throwing Will off, and then Molly. That's my memory of it, anyway.


Hello Mr. Parnell,

Fellow Germantown native here.

I’m a huge fan of your SNL work. What’s your all-time favorite SNL skit?

Also, did you ever make it to Piggly Wiggly manager?

Chris-Parnell169 karma

Whoa, my all-time favorite? That's tough.

But there's one that Farley did, where he was playing an umpire, and it was about outing people that were gay, and so they would out people, sort of unceremoniously, and they would cut to Farley yelling "YOU'RE OUTTA THERE!" as an umpire. And it was ...it just killed me. There were lots of them that I loved, but that one comes to mind.

Hahaha! No, I did not. I did not. But I did end up being an operations manager at a toy store, later on.

lopezrican304117 karma

What do you think Cyril originally called Stir Friday?

Chris-Parnell181 karma

Fry Stirday?

Because it was originally on a Saturday. And then he switched it to Friday, and had to change to change the word for it.

informareWORK115 karma

Walk Hard is one of my favorite movies of all time. What was it like working on that one, specifically how was it working with John C. Reilly? By the way, the "Fuck Cats! Fuck Ancient Egypt!" scene is one of my favorite comedy scenes ever.

Chris-Parnell112 karma

Oh, that's so nice, thank you! It was really fun doing that. John is fantastic, and he was a big contributor to the creative aspect of the film as well. He bought so much to it with the singing. And even though I'd work with Tim Meadows on SNL, it was a brief stint, and I really got to learn a lot more from Tim doing WALK HARD, and I got to know Matt Besser on the set as well, and I got to learn how to play the bass.

yrtria103 karma

Hi Chris!

Just want to say loving Archer, but I am also an avid follower of Rick and Morty!

I have a two part question: How did you get involved with voice acting? and secondly, How much fun do you guys have when recording?

Chris-Parnell123 karma

Well, my dad is a voiceover guy, back in Memphis, in Germantown. So it's a little bit of a family thing, although he's from the more traditional announcer mold, he was a disc jockey and all that sort of thing. But he had a recording studio with a partner, so when he would need the voice of a little boy, he would use me, and if he needed a little girl, he'd use my sister, but it wasn't until I got on SNL that I was able to use that as a foot-in-the-door for the voiceover world in New York, and got a voiceover agent there.

TBB5188 karma

What would Cyril's perfect vengeance against Archer be?

Chris-Parnell190 karma

Oh, I think it would be to get Lana back, and maybe marry Lana, and maybe see Archer in jail, or something, in prison somewhere?

work98765498780 karma

What up, Parns?

Chris-Parnell171 karma

Life, brother, life.

kimste278 karma

Thank you for doing this Chris. Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

Chris-Parnell227 karma

Um, I would love to see myself on a successful, beloved, critically-acclaimed, single-camera sitcom. And doing some movie parts here and there.

Chris-Parnell164 karma

One that shoots in Los Angeles!

GaughanStyle73 karma

Hi Chris thanks for doing the Ama, what is Cyril's best attribute and why is it his ability to provide suppressing fire? Also you should have won @midnight last night

Chris-Parnell108 karma

Oh, haha, thanks about @midnight, I agree!

Cyril's best quality... you know, I don't know if it's a quality, but his ability with logic and numbers, I think, is notable.

And because Cyril has an inner rage, inner fury, that is able to express itself when he has an automatic weapon in his hands.

Tauntaunwampa63 karma

Hi Chris! I'm collecting inspirational quotes from celebrities to put on the wall of my man cave and frame! Do you have any advice for beer and life?

Chris-Parnell212 karma

I would say "Drink the beer that you love the taste of, and hopefully one that doesn't add too many calories to your diet. Drink what you love, and don't drink what's cool. Like, if it's Bud Light Lime, drink Bud Light Lime."

And then for life, I'd say: "Try to love your neighbor as yourself, and be a loving, forgiving human being."

lmeaac62 karma

Who was the nicest host during your run at SNL?

Chris-Parnell121 karma

I mean, Will Ferrell was always super-nice. And really fun, because we all knew him, and he's also, of course, really funny. I also really loved Julianna Margulies too, she was really sweet and game and so funny I thought, and lovely.

Orbitron62 karma

What's your favorite drink?

Chris-Parnell206 karma

My favorite drink... it would be a toss-up between Bourbon and Scotch and Rye and Irish Whiskey.

lmeaac60 karma

What did you do to maintain your composure during sketches and make sure you never broke?

Chris-Parnell144 karma

I really just... focused on the scene of it, you know, and was just trying to act it well and hopefully be funny and not be outside of it, because there was some really funny stuff, and there were times when it was hard not to laugh, but I always approached it as an actor (not to sound pretentious, but the idea of breaking character seemed bad to me).

Although I never judged those who did - i know how much the audience enjoys it when people break, and it might've served me well to have broken every now and then. And also I just think I took it so seriously, perhaps too seriously, the whole thing.

Blakk42056 karma

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Chris-Parnell126 karma

I had...a strawberry-banana-blueberry smoothie, a piece of gluten-free toast with crunchy almond butter, and a special egg dish that my wife made, and some coffee.

Nordlich56 karma

Do you realize how legendary your voice is?

Seriously though, huge fan. The fact that you voice Jerry Smith on Rick and Morty made me give the show a chance, which I don't regret.

Keep being a kickass accountant and/or actor.

Chris-Parnell54 karma

Well, thanks!

Oh, oh, I do not. But thank you so much. I'm very lucky I get to be paid for using my voice like i do.

lmeaac53 karma

If Comedy Central called you up and said that they wanted you to pick Jon Stewart’s replacement, who would you choose?

Chris-Parnell136 karma

Gosh, I don't know! He's a tough one to replace, obviously. I don't think Tina would do it, but I think Tina would make a great replacement. And Amy Poehler, for that matter!

ragorna52 karma

Hi Chris! I love your voice. I don't know what it is, but it's so smart sounding, you know?!

Now my question is: The whole cast kinda looks like their character on Archer. (Except for Jon, and Amber might need some weight gain.) If there would be a real-life-action movie, would you concider to play Cyril? Who would you think should play Sterling Archer? Clearly, Jon would have to dub because... reasons!

Chris-Parnell103 karma


Thanks. My voice "sounding smart" is completely an illusion. But thank you.

And sure, of course! I would be happy to play Cyril. And I think the answer most people give for Archer is a pretty good one, which is Jon Hamm. He, I think, would be pretty good in that role. But it also might work with Michael Fassbender.

suaveitguy47 karma

What are the best techniques for good voice acting? What were your biggest misconceptions before you started?

Chris-Parnell94 karma

I just try to do little vocal warmups before I record something - both singing warmups (even though I'm not usually singing) and then also do some articulation exercises, I do a piece called "The Sailor's Hornpipe" which I go through very quickly to work through all the different sounds and shapes of the mouth and tongue.

I started when I was a kid, so I don't know if I ever really had an misconceptions about it? I guess in terms of doing animation specifically, I didn't realize the extent to which you really just are acting, you know? And the need to remember to be in the moment as that character, the same way you would if you were on-camera as that character.

shivan2143 karma

Do you have any funny story from Anchorman 2?

Chris-Parnell108 karma


I guess the moment when we were all standing on the beach, watching Ron fighting the shark. People were throwing out a lot of ad-libs, a lot of improvised lines. Sadly I'm not going to remember much in terms of specifics. But they were really funny, unscripted stuff that people were throwing around.

DebDecatur00737 karma

What is your heritage? Also what is the best bar-b-que in Memphis?

Chris-Parnell113 karma

My heritage I don't know, because I'm adopted, but based on information that the adoption agency got from my birth parents, they seem to think I was Irish, English and German. And the best BBQ? I tend to be more of a wet BBQ kind of guy, as opposed to the dry rub. I'm a big fan of the Germantown Commissary BBQ, just outside of Memphis.

Memphish_Boognish37 karma

Hey Chris, huge fan, I have two questions

  1. Are you a Grizzlies fan?
  2. Have you thought of doing more podcasts? I loved you on the Comedy Bang Bang TV show and would love to see you on the podcast

Chris-Parnell52 karma

1.) Um... I support the Grizzlies, but I have to confess I don't really keep up with the sporting world. But I'm always happy when the Grizzlies win.

2.) Yeah, you know, I do podcasts almost whenever I'm asked to, whenever it works out schedule-wise, if I can, you know? They're easy to do, and generally pretty fun. I just did one for The Chive recently.

MrBillyLotion36 karma

When did you first realize you were a thespian? How did your parents react and are they supportive of your lifestyle?

Chris-Parnell49 karma


It was when I was in high school, doing plays. Of course, I got inducted into the International Thespian Society, which made it official...

And you know, when I decided when I was 17 that I really wanted to pursue it as a career, my parents felt the need to make sure I understood the difficulties involved with choosing such a career - when they realized I was serious about it, though, they were very supportive and always have been.

wabysaby34 karma

What's one SNL skit you never got to make that you wish you had?

Chris-Parnell68 karma

Well, I did a character named Terrye Funke, I think, and although I did get to do it, I didn't get to do it nearly as much as I wanted. It was a character who went to dress rehearsal about 3 times as much as it did on air. I only did it on air twice -once with Jeff Gordon the race-car driver, and then once with Horatio and Will Ferrell. Terrye was an effeminate southern man who lived in his mom's basement, and I don't think quite realized he was gay. He loved little dogs, he loved yorkies, and he's just a very silly, flamboyant character.

shivan2129 karma

How is it during recording of Archer? Do you record together?

Chris-Parnell55 karma

We do not record together. We all do it separately, from whatever city we're in. But I'm on the phone line with some of the guys back in Atlanta, who make the show, reading it with them, and taking their direction over the phone line, but it's fun. Usually pretty quick. And unfortunately we don't get to see each other, but we do get to see each other when we do functions, and Comic-Con, and Archer Live, and things like that.

twel527 karma

Have any of your elevator rides gotten weird since the Vision Quest episode?

Chris-Parnell33 karma

Hahah! No, I don't think so. All pretty forgettable.

lecheventi20 karma

Hey Chris. If you were to become a super spy right now, what skill do you currently have that would be the most useful and why? Thank you for taking the time to read our questions today.

Chris-Parnell21 karma

Oh, you're very welcome!

I guess just my acting ability, whatever it is? That would probably be my main skill.

BigSlim19 karma

Favorite SNL sketch that you feel people overlooked?

Chris-Parnell60 karma

Gosh, I don't know. I don't know that people overlooked it, but I always liked the sketches where Will Ferrell was playing Robert Goulet.

chill_ninja8910 karma

What was your favorite spot in Memphis? I grew up outside of Memphis and spent a lot of time there. Also, Dr. Spaceman is my favorite.

Chris-Parnell13 karma

Oh, thanks!

My favorite spot in Memphis? Let's see... I think Midtown is a cool area. Cooper-Young District is pretty happenin.' And of course, Downtown has a lot of interesting haunts and things.

jonasdash9 karma

Mr Parnell, could you tell me if you sang Lionel Ritchie's "All Night Long" for a wine cooler commercial recently? I swear it's your dulcet tones I'm hearing and I want to know that I'm not crazy (at least about this. with regards to many other things, I am certifiable)

I tried to find a clip of the commercial, but as I'm already over an hour late to your AMA, I didn't want to waste any more time before submitting my question.

Hope you see this, you're a phenomenal talent!

Chris-Parnell17 karma

Oh, that's really nice, thank you so much.

But I'm afraid to say that: you are crazy. You are out of your mind. That is not me singing that song, on a wine-cooler commercial.

But I wish it was me. I really wish it was.

seismicor3 karma

Do you have a favourite videogame?

Chris-Parnell5 karma

I guess sort of my old 1980's favorite game would've been Centipede and Asteroids?

What else? TEMPEST! I liked Tempest.

And now I like the Final Fantasy games. And I guess my favorite would be Final Fantasy, that series, especially the early ones.