Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Mary Lynn Rajskub at Moontower Comedy Fest

Dale Roe

Mary Lynn Rajskub's stand-up is twisted, but she could be the most unlikely comedian ever. The daughter of a pipe fitter and a drug store worker who grew up in the perfectly middle-class world of suburban Detroit, Rajskub attended art school before moving into comedy.

She's a veteran of HBO's classic sketch comedy series "Mr. Show" and "The Larry Sanders Show," but is most known for portraying computer whiz Chloe on Fox's "24."

I chatted with her in advance of her appearance at the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Fest while she was waiting at an auto dealership to have the doughnut spare tire on her car replaced (ah, the glamorous life of a star).

American-Statesman: In my imagination you decided to pursue comedy because you wanted to become so famous that everybody would know how to pronounce your last name (it's Rice-cub).

(Laughs) Yes, it's so everyone would be forced to say my name. Um, I always just had this drive for self-expression (but) I was never class clown. If anything, I would always try to keep a neutral face so that nobody would know what I was feeling. Maybe I was about to implode, so I finally had to start talking.

You don't seem like an extrovert.

Oh, gosh. Recently, I was traveling and I had to think of a lie to tell strangers, because if I say actress, they feel bad for me; they say "Ohhh ... good luck with that." When I finally say that most people recognize me from "24," they apologize for not having seen it. I'm, like, "can we just not have this whole conversation?"

So, you are shy.

I guess so. I think in some ways that performance is kind of a way to bridge that gap to not being shy and to learning how to express myself. I like to do that onstage and get laughs while doing it. It's fun, it's strange and I love it. I love connecting with an audience, yet I can spend several days alone not talking to anybody, too.

I know you from "Mr. Show," "Larry Sanders," "24" and your Web series, "Dickie." Would your stand-up act surprise people who are familiar with you from those shows?

Stand-up, at this point in my life, is a way for me to establish what my voice is, away from characters that you've seen me do. I could have gone into another drama and been another character, but I did that for 5 or 6 years and now I'm kind of getting back to what my roots were. And, also, I'm more grown up and I have a husband and a kid and so I have more things to talk about. I have a more complete perspective than I ever did before. There's more material, so it's been really fun.

Contact Dale Roe at 912-5923 Twitter: @djroe

Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival