Comedian/actress Mary Lynn Rajskub (pronounced “Rice-Cub”) may be best known as a star of the silver and small screen, but she cut her teeth in stand-up, beginning at the San Francisco Art Institute before relocating to the nascent alt comedy scene in Los Angeles where her awesomely awkward, expressive, and decontextualizing style found a receptive home. She was a cast member on two of the most critically acclaimed TV comedies of the ‘90s, HBO’s Mr. Show with Bob and David and The Larry Sanders Show. She also played Chloe on a little program called 24. She’s also quite adept with canvas (as a talented painter and not as the oft-rumored Mexican wrestling star Dulce Maria Garcia Rivas). Rajskub is a prolific performer, who has created a myriad of one-woman shows, the recent web series Dickie, and who will appear in the upcoming web series Dirty Work and the film Safety Not Guaranteed, not to mention her pantheon of cameos. Being a new mom with her first husband Matthew Rolph (c’mon, I kid) had kept Rajskub from clocking in a ton of stage time but this uniquely talented comedian seems to be positively luminous from a new perspective and for the great fortune of stand-up fans, Mary Lynn Rajskub is bringing her insight, POV, and shtick to Austin as part of the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival. I recently spoke to the exceedingly gracious Rajskub, who called from a rather unusual local in Southern California and who, like myself, was fairly tickled by the absurdity of the situation.
Steve Birmingham: With your busy performance schedule and your recent calendar activity, it seems that you’re doing stand-up with gusto of late, and that’s a wonderful thing. And we’re certainly thrilled that you’ll be performing here at the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival. What is the impetus for you regularly rocking the mic now?
Mary Lynn Rajskub: That’s where I came from.
MLR: Those are my roots and I actually started out in performance art when I was in art school and performance art sort of turned into people laughing at me and me making fun of myself. Don’t ask me which one came first. But then I met comedians and I was attracted to them years ago, just for their ability to explore their own personas and their own point of view onstage in a monologue form while engaging an audience. It sounds so silly saying it like that but that’s what was exciting to me. So I always did acting but most of my best jobs and best work kind of spring from me doing that. And that’s kind of the way it always was.
SB: And I understand that you performed stand-up throughout the run of 24. I guess to me, it just seems like maybe you’re performing a little more than I had been aware of. That just might be my own ignorance.
MLR: No, you’re absolutely right and I didn’t even answer that part of the question yet. I sort of went off on a little tangent there. Lately I’ve been sort of focusing in on [stand-up] because my life is so different now because I have a family, a son and a husband, which I never planned on having or expected to have. So I have this new excitement about exploring that material and it’s just a really good time for me because most people recognize me from 24 and [I’m] sort of coming off 24 and reading all these pilots, and I’ve been doing a bunch of different little projects and then it just occurred to me that you this is the time now for me to explore my own material. Time to get back to what I always did. That’s what I’m putting together is sort of the point of view, embracing my life as it is right now and it’s been really fun. Continue reading