By Collin Kelley
When Mary Lynn Rajskub phones me, she’s driving in LA and trying to figure out which gate she needs to pull into at Universal Studios. Of course, I can’t help but hear Chloe O’Brian, her irascible character on the hit television thriller ’24’, on the other end of the line. I resist the urge to say, “Damn it, Chloe, do you want me to download those coordinates to your phone?,” because that would reveal my inner ’24’ geek.
Of course, Rajskub is much more than ’24’ and she’s in Atlanta July 10-13 at Laughing Skull Lounge to show you her funny side. She’s used to the fact that many people are thrown off by her breezy – and lightly raunchy – jokes about her personal life after watching the no-nonsense computer genius she’s portrayed on ’24’ for the past six seasons.
“I never know what to expect from the audience and they never know what to expect of me,” Rajskub says. “The show is very personal, silly, goofy, a little sexual.”
She says her comedy is perfect for parents, since many of the jokes in her act are about accidentally getting pregnant and the trials and tribulations of marriage and motherhood. “I hope it’s a catharsis for parents,” she says. “It will either scare them into not having kids or maybe making some more.”
Of course, there’s also some ’24” jokes thrown in. “I have to remind them that Jack is not there, that I’m not Chloe and I can’t fix their computer. The more I talk, the more disappointed you’re going to be at how little I know about computers,” she laughs. The fact that she makes computer hacking look so cool and intense – not to mention the possibility of a bullet to the brain from Chinese terrorists trying to instigate World War III – is a testament to her acting skills.
Between comedy gigs and playing Chloe, she’s had memorable guest spots and recurring roles on “Californication,” “How To Be a Gentleman,” “2 Broke Girls,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Arrested Development.” She’s also appeared in films, including “Julie & Julia,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Punch Drunk Love” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”
Rajskub went to school for painting, but found herself drawn to the “weird and random” performance art that was happening around San Francisco at the time. “I started doing live shows in San Francisco at bars and open mics, and I started enjoying the idea of getting laughs on purpose.”
She almost didn’t get the “24” gig because she didn’t want to go to the audition. “I went in to audition for ‘CSI’ and they thought I was odd and goofy and it didn’t go very well,” she recalls. “Then my agent called and told me about ’24.’ I said I wasn’t feeling confident and I didn’t want to do it, but they really wanted to see me.”
The four year hiatus between seasons of “24” allowed Rajskub to pursue comedy and other endeavors including a podcast (“Kickin’ It Mary Lynn Style”) and the web series “Dicki.” Her current standup tour is taking her to comedy clubs around the country. She’s played Laughing Skull before and says it’s a “great room with a little left of center” vibe.
With ’24’ wrapping up its current season, would Rajskub sign on for another stint as Chloe? “’24’ is huge,” she says. “I don’t think there’s a world where I don’t do ’24.'”
Mary Lynn Rajskub will be at Laughing Skull Lounge, 878 Peachtree St., July 10-13. Tickets and more information are available at laughingskulllounge.com.