Is Mary Lynn Rajskub playing a character?

Mary Lynn Rajskub is an actor whom I remember most as the assistant to Janeane Garofalo’s character on The Larry Sanders Show. I thought she was a good comedic actor and since then I believe she’s become more famous for her role in 24 as some kind of analyst with a personality disorder. I haven’t ever actually seen 24, so I’m just going on what I’ve read and heard on the radio. I have an understanding (perhaps mistaken) that her character’s personality disorder is to some extent based on Rajskub’s real life.

I just watched Rajskub’s sets on John Oliver’s New York Standup Show, and, frankly, I don’t know what to think of it. Seeing it purely as standup comedy, I’d say that it was sort of middling quality. But what puzzles me is that I can’t tell whether it’s actually confessional comedy (à la modern Louis C.K.) or whether it’s surreal character comedy (like Sarah Silverman).

As confessional comedy, it’s really fucked up. And it seems odd. She does a bit about getting pregnant after a one-night stand. She goes to visit her parents to tell them what happened, and the punch line is “I realized that I’m 37 years old and I can do whatever I want.” What’s odd is that she doesn’t actually act as if she had actually gotten pregnant. Is that part of her personality disorder?

As character comedy, I don’t think it really works. Someone like Sarah Silverman is high-octane satire and you can get what kinds of societal attitudes she’s lampooning. Rajskub’s character, if that’s what it is, doesn’t seem to be satire. She just seems to be odd, and not necessarily in a funny way.


Maybe you have to watch the whole thing.

She married her boyfriend in 2009.

Maybe. I’ll look it up.

I thought of a third option: She’s just a really bad standup comedian.

I saw her standup act (short set) a few years ago at the Upright Citizens Brigade in L.A. and liked her. However, after reading good reviews about her previous solo show I saw MLSHL at the Steve Allen. It was disappointing.