Best known for her role as the scowl-faced yet embraceable tech geek Chloe O’Brian on the long-running (and recently rebooted) TV thriller “24” starring Kiefer Sutherland, Rajskub also is a stand-up comic.
“Usually, if people know ‘24,’ they don’t know the comedy and vice versa,” says Rajskub, who brings her act to The City this week. “It’s very strange. People who know the show say, ‘I didn’t know you could smile’ and people who know my comedy background say, ‘We didn’t know you could be serious.’”
But which came first in her life, an interest in comedy or acting?
“I was in art school for painting, which led to performance art, which led to people laughing at me when I wasn’t really trying to be funny, which led to me doing comedy,” she says. “So, I guess you could say comedy.”
Eventually, she mastered straddling the two genres. Yet her comedy best offers a glimpse into the real Mary Lynn. Her healthy servings of self-deprecating humor capture both the plight and heroism of being an underdog.
In her act, she’ll pine to be, she says, “super hot – the kind of girl that knows she’s hot, but that’s all she knows.”
She also reluctantly admits that she’s not a tech geek — at all — and that when she was on “24,” she never really hacked into government files. She was typing in affirmations.
Born in Detroit, she credits her family and high school theater teacher for being her biggest influences. Upon moving to Los Angeles, she watched Garry Shandling, Janeane Garofalo, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross.
In 2010, about the time “24” bowed, she did a sidesplitting, eyebrow-raising solo show in Los Angeles. “Mary Lynn Spreads Her Legs” revolved around her experiences with pregnancy, childbirth and being a new mom.
Her webseries,“Dicki,” about a 40-year-old who still lives with her parents, pushes the envelope, too, and shows shades of powerhouse Tracey Ullman.
Still, like most comics, she’s always searching for stimulus. She says, “At the moment, I find Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman inspiring. That, and ‘Seinfeld’ reruns, ‘Big Brother’ — and my kid.”
For Rajskub, performing comedy onstage offers the ultimate in creative freedom. She says, “It is live and anything can and does happen.”
IF YOU GO
Mary Lynn Rajskub
Where: Punch Line Comedy Club, 444 Battery St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. today and Wednesday
Contact: (415) 397-7573, www.punchlinecomedyclub.com