As cranky geek-spy Chloe O'Brian on "24," Mary Lynn Rajskub has gained a cult following for her character's oddball mash-up of social inappropriateness and technical know-how. Now the scowl that's launched a thousand screensavers is live at the Steve Allen Theater every Sunday through June in the solo show "The Complications of Purchasing a Poodle Pillow."
While Rajskub may have achieved TV immortality backing up Jack Bauer's hard drive, many Angelenos know she's also honed some killer skills on the alternative comedy circuit.
News flash to the rest of us: Mary Lynn is very funny. Mary Lynn is kind of hot. Mary Lynn will divulge seriously private stuff. And Mary Lynn thinks being famous is really, really weird. These qualities may not make her Stephen Hawking, but I know whom I'd rather do tequila shots with.
Most of the show revolves around adventures in the super-freak zone Rajskub inhabits now that she has done prime-time playing a counterterrorist. This includes being invited to the conservative Heritage Foundation, both to speak on a torture panel and be kissed by Rush Limbaugh, as well as to a dinner debating the pros and cons of personal expression with Clarence Thomas. OK, my attention wandered at times, but Rajskub's merciless timing and full-frontal contempt for foolishness (above all her own) always brought me back.
Like most comics, Rajskub's pathologies are her performance strengths, and she's never more herself than when she's terrified of turning into someone else: someone stupid or pretentious or lacking in self-awareness. (Um, Mary Lynn? You're safely doomed to be yourself, and the world is a better, stranger place for it.)
Apparently, the material in "Complications" varies from evening to evening, but the show I saw ended with a sad and deeply hilarious story of a breakup that is surely the best public service announcement against threesomes since Jack Tripper moved in with Chrissy and Janet.
Ignore the strenuously quirky title, there's no poodle talk in this monologue. Only some hair of the dog for people who know that living in Hollywood can be hazardous to your sanity.
`The Complications of Purchasing a Poodle Pillow'
Where: Steve Allen Theater, Center for Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles
When: 8 p.m. Sundays, dark June 10
Ends: June 24
Contact: (800) 595-4849
Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes