Mary Lynn Rajskub: 24 star Fringe
By Caro Moses | Published on Tuesday 23 August 2016
You may be more familiar with Mary Lynn Rajskub for her TV work, not least as Chloe from ‘24’. But this August it’s all about the comedy, as she imports her stand-up for the Edinburgh audience with a debut Fringe show ‘24 Hours With Mary Lynn Rajskub’. We caught up with Mary Lynn to find out about the show, and how stand-up and acting compare.
CM: Hello! OK, lets start with the show. Is there a central theme?
MLR: The theme of my show is love and how to hold on to it.
CM: What inspired you to create the show?
MLR: I love doing stand-up in the States, and my son and husband almost always make it into the act. So I decided to deepen the story and explore what happens when a mother and a wife whose husband doesn’t talk to her very much goes on the road as a comic, and encounters a young male yoga teacher who helps miniature horses!
CM: How did you go about creating the show? Had you road-tested material before putting it altogether?
MLR: It all started with my usual stand-up, which is based on my life. I then wrote this into a script and started performing it as one long show for a director. Though while I was going through that process, I would also try pieces in the comedy clubs in LA.
CM: What made you decide to bring the show to Edinburgh?
MLR: My producer, Marshall Cordell, has been coming to the Festival and producing shows here for fifteen years. I met him on the set of an independent movie in Cleveland, Ohio. I would work on the movie during the day and do comedy sets at night. Marshall asked me if I had ever thought of doing Edinburgh, and I explained that I had always wanted to do, but never knew how to pull it off.
CM: How do you feel it’s going now you are here? Are you enjoying being part of the festival?
MLR: I hadn’t been to Edinburgh before. It’s a magical place and the Festival is inspiring. It is also a huge challenge to undertake performing every night of the Festival, especially coming from another country with a brand new show in a place I have never been before.
CM: I must confess, I am much more familiar with your TV work, and have always enjoyed seeing you on the programmes that you have been in. How do you like doing TV stuff compared to doing a live show every night like this?
MLR: The Edinburgh show is exciting and very challenging. TV is challenging too, but in a different way. And I would say, in a lot of ways, TV is easier, because usually a set is a very safe environment, yet the product has the potential to been seen worldwide, and it is on film forever. Whereas the Festival is different every night, and you never quite know what is going to happen. So each show you start from the beginning, in a sense that no two shows are the same.
CM: You’ve referenced ‘24’ in the show’s title. What was it like working on that series? Do you have any highly interesting anecdotes to tell us?
MLR: Ha! I’m not sure what qualifies as a ‘highly interesting’ anecdote! I was on the show for eight seasons. The crew was like family. I learned how to be a dramatic actress, met my husband and was pregnant during the filming. I experienced a lot of milestones with many of the crew members, and of course got to work with Kiefer Sutherland, who I knew from the movies as a kid.
CM: What’s the best thing about doing stand-up? Is it exhilarating?
MLR: Stand-up is a roller coaster and, yes, it can be very exhilarating. This past Saturday night at my show here, I had one of the best audiences I’ve ever had. I love hearing a wall of laughter, especially when my material expresses something important to me.
CM: Have you ever had a really, really bad time doing stand-up, though?
MLR: Yes of course! That’s a rite of passage.
CM: What made you want to be a performer in the first place?
MLR: I was very shy and quiet when I was younger. I always tried to do the right thing and be a good person. I was studying painting and all of my feelings were bottled up inside. So stand-up was a release and positive expression for me.
CM: And finally, what’s next?
MLR: Next, I’m going to spend some time back home in LA, getting ready to film a TV show for Amazon called ‘Highston’ while also continuing to develop material.
’24 Hours With Mary Lynn Rajskub’ was performed at Assembly George Square Studios at Edinburgh Festival 2016.
Photo by Kat Gollock