African-American actress, comedian, author, reality-show host, and occasional scriptwriter Aisha Tyler came of age in San Francisco and studied poly sci at Dartmouth College before mounting a (brief) career as an advertising executive in her hometown. Dissatisfied by this pursuit, and pining to launch herself as a full-time entertainer, Tyler "dropped out" of the corporate world and hit the road with a solo standup comedy act in the mid-'90s.
Around 2001 -- after five years in Los Angeles with occasional standup bookings and concomitantly limited acclaim and recognition -- Tyler landed two huge breaks, first as the host of the irreverent Talk Soup during that program's final year (a position she inherited from Greg Kinnear, John Henson, and others), and then as the primary host of the dating series The 5th Wheel. Riding the crest of popularity generated by reality television during the first several years of the millennium, Wheel coupled the unscripted spontaneity of The Real World and Survivor with the format of the dating series Blind Date. Its premise involved setting two couples up on blind dates, having them "swap" partners, and adding an unforeseen fifth member (the "wheel" of the title) to stir things up and add provocation. The program placed a greater emphasis on erotic and suggestive content than Blind and -- perhaps as a result -- it unsurprisingly became a massive, runaway hit.