Emmy-winning actresses and stand-up comedians who just finished publishing their new memoirs, while simultaneously embarking on their stand-up tours, rarely have moments to themselves. Thankfully, Mary Lynn Rajskub, best known for her work on the TV shows 24 and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia was able to take a few minutes to speak about her new book, Fame-Ish: My Life at the Edge of Stardom, and her upcoming appearances at Comedy Shrine, in Aurora; and Juke Box Comedy, in Peoria.
Having worked with countless big names in the business such as Tom Cruise, Danny DeVito, Adam Sandler and Garry Shandling, Rajskub's Fame-Ish is chock-full of wild stories and outlandish celebrity antics. One of said stories involves getting to work with DeVito on the set of of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Having known "Sunny" co-star Kaitlyn Olson for some time, Rajskub was brought in for the part of Gail the Snailthe eccentric, well-off cousin of Dennis and Dee (played, respectively, by Glenn Howerton and Olson). There was no audition; instead, she found a very collaborative and free-spirited work environment. Although Gail was a scripted character, Rajskub worked in tandem with not only Danny, but the show's creators: Howerton, Rob McElhenney (whose character, Mac, has come out as gay) and Charlie Day. Constantly going back and forth between makeup and wardrobe, Rajskub pushed the character even further, playing off DeVito, who she called "so high-caliber."
Rajskub credited seeing Patton Oswalt as the inspiration for starting her down the path to stand-up and acting. However, writing Fame-Ish happened because Chelsea, a good friend of Rajskub, offered to help. Chelsea helped design the Gail the Snail scrunchie, which eventually led to helping sell this merchandise on the actress' website. This eventually led to her transcribing several stories from Rajskub's former podcast, which was the real catalyst in the creation of the book, which features 28 short essays spanning Rajskub's wild journey in show business.
Rajskub said she believes that writing stand-up and a book are very similar, saying, "Everything has its own difficulty, and the core of these experiences is stand-up." She added that she would like to continue her literary career, saying that when it comes to celebrity truth, she has "so much."
However, in Fame-Ish, Rajskub talks about much more than acting. In one essay, she tells about the time she was at a party where Drew Barrymore tried to steal her boyfriendbut, all the while, Rajskub was entertaining the idea of having Barrymore as her girlfriend. When asked how she felt her bisexuality had influenced her career, and if she felt that there was bi erasure in Hollywood, Rajskub laughed, calling the inquiry "a bit of a loaded question. She added, "It's up to the viewer. If you think that there is bi erasure, you need to put it out there. If there's a need, you put it out there. Your network will find you." She added that, now, "There is truly more room out there for more stuff, [but] these things don't happen immediately. Find your people…"
Turning to her show, Rajskub discussed what guests at her upcoming Chicagoland shows will see: My stand-up is processing stuff." Rajskub them went on to give a small glimpse into what one might experience at one of her shows by retelling the story of how, at a recent show in Florida, she broached the subject of early motherhood when she asked a well-dressed, apparently conservative audience member, if she "didn't like her baby when it was born."
She added, "Comedy shows are a place to let loose, a place to explore. If not at a comedy show, then where? This is the underbelly of the experience."
Interested people can check Rajskub's shows in Aurora, at Comedy Shrine (April 15-16); and in Peoria. at Juke Box Comedy (April 22-23). See www.marylynnmarylynn.com/ for tickets and more information about her book.