On this week’s episode, I have actress Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The Dropout, Brooklyn 99 and many many more) and we dive into the origins of his career. We also talk about her new stand-up comedy tour she is doing and how that came about. We talk about so much more, so make sure you tune in.

Show Notes

Mary Lynn Rajskub on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marylynnrajskub/

Mary Lynn Rajskub IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0707476/

Mary Lynn Rajskub on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Lynn_Rajskub

Michael’s Online Screenwriting Course – https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson – https://michaeljamin.com/free

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Autogenerated Transcript

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I don’t know what else to do because I am an artist. So it’s always been tied to my personal life and my personal expression, and there’s a therapeutic aspect to it. And I don’t really, I feel like if I could have taken the route of, I don’t know. I never had the ability to be like, I’m going to write scripts, so I just kind of amped up the thing that I am good at.

Michael Jamin:
You’re listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I’ll tell you what I’m talking about. I’m talking about creativity. I’m talking about writing, and I’m talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.
Hey everyone. Welcome back for another episode of, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I’m going to tell you what I’m talking about today. I’m talking with a wonderful actress named Mary Lynn Reup, who I worked with many years ago. I was introduced to her. She’s doing her hair right now. How’s

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Your side part going? Okay, go on.

Michael Jamin:
Many years we were teamed up to take a pilot out based on her life and many pilots that didn’t go anywhere. But Mary Lynn is, you are one of my favorite Hollywood stories, and I’m going to tell it to you and I hope it embarrasses you because it was so funny. So we were working together on telling this pilot, and then it was a few years later, we were doing Marin, mark Marin, his show. We were running his show, and then we needed someone at the last minute to play themselves in an interview. So I text Mary Lynn, I got her number on my cell phone. I text her and I

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Say, oh, what did I do?

Michael Jamin:
I say, I say, Hey, Mary Lynn, I know this is last minute, but do you want to be in our TV show? And then you wrote back, yes, who is this?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Nope,

Michael Jamin:
Don’t need to read a part. And we script’s are

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Important.

Michael Jamin:
I’ll be there tomorrow. I just assumed I was in your phone. So I was like, whatever. And then we later had you on LX Buddy system, but for the people who are not entirely sure who you are, I mean, you’ve done a ton of stuff. Most, I guess your biggest role was Chloe on 24, which was a giant hit. So you’re Chloe, but then I was also looking through your credits and you also played Chloe on Veronica’s closet. And I wonder if that was just a trial run for the name

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Trial. Yeah, it’s in the ether that the quirky awkward girl, oh, let’s call her Chloe in Veronica’s closet. She was androgynous and it was Wally Langham who played her assistant on that show, if I’m remembering correctly. Both of us. His character turned out to be gay. It was actually kind of a sweet story. And so we both were ambiguous sexually, and we both had crushes on Scott Bayo, which is not adorable, but

Michael Jamin:
Not anymore. Do you remember all the parts you’ve done like this? Do you have a good memory for everything you’ve done?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
You’ve done

Michael Jamin:
A lot of parts.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
What’s funny is you’re pulling the switcheroo on me because normally people will say stuff to me and I’m like, I don’t remember that at all. But things like this, if you ask me what the part is and what the story is, I most likely will remember that stuff.

Michael Jamin:
But when you Go ahead,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah, but there are some things where either, I don’t know, it depends. Sometimes I’m in stuff, I’m like, I don’t remember being there. I don’t remember you

Michael Jamin:
Really. You sometimes turn on the TV and see an episode of something you’ve done done a ton. And they go, oh, look at there. There I am. Do you not remember?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah. And it’s funny, the way that you’re saying it through the prism of the actual part, I’ll remember that. But there’s a certain, I don’t know, there’s certain events or one-off things or sometimes there’s stuff on 24. There’s a ton ton of guest stars because there’s so much plot on that show, and there’s so many people that get killed per episode, most likely. In that case, it’s a person that I just wasn’t on set with, and so I didn’t have memorized the episodes of who all the characters are type of thing.

Michael Jamin:
Now you do a lot of, I see you posting, you’re always on the road, you’re always doing standup, but did you start as a standup?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I started in standup ish, yes. I was going to school for painting, and then it turned to performance art, and then I started making fun of performance art.
And then I was in San Francisco and I was going to bars and doing open mic shows. I was really attracted to solo performers, but at the time it was more performance arty. And then once I started just organically making fun of it, I started to encounter comedians who would come to these. There was a crossover between artists and comedians who would go to the same open mics. And I remember seeing the comedians and going, oh, that’s, oh, that’s somebody that knows their voice, their natural at storytelling, because I was seeing a lot of just poetry from their journal and stuff like that. And it wasn’t until I started meeting comedians that I was like, oh, those are my people. But I still didn’t understand necessarily how I was being funny.

Michael Jamin:
And then how did you find your voice then? That takes a long time.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Oh, I think I just found it last week.

Michael Jamin:
Well, tell me why, how you found it. What does that mean for you to find your, I know what it means for a writer. What does it mean for you?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
What I’m realizing, honestly, lately within the past few years, especially within the past decade that I’ve gone on the road doing comedy in earnest, is that I do have a story to tell. It’s just taken me a long time to hone in on what that is. And a lot of it is just come from my life experience and putting together, oh, that’s what I thought about that, reflecting on stuff, because I think when I first started, I grew up sort of in a bubble and pretty naive, and so I just was putting a vulnerability out there, but I didn’t know what I was saying or what I was doing. I got a lot of acting because of that

Michael Jamin:
Really. So you were vulnerable back when you were starting off?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
A lot of times, and that’s pretty much what I did on stages. I would improvise and I wouldn’t know what I was going to say. And I can remember looking back, other people would be like, did you write a sketch packet for that? Again, there was a crossover between actors and comedy writers, and I used to just really beat myself up, and it’s because I was so bogged down by whatever social anxiety and whatever my brain, the mechanism was geared towards performing, and I still can’t quite articulate it, but I just know that I didn’t have the presence of mind or the ability to, my brain just didn’t work that way. I wasn’t about to sit down and write a sketch packet. I had to go through it experientially year after year to be like, oh, I’m this type of person. That’s why sometimes people will be like, they’ll ask the generic question of who are your comedic influences? It’s like, I never related to a guy on a stage in a suit with a tie going, here’s what I think about this. It’s only lately that I’m going, oh, I have an opinion on that, and it’s a strong opinion, but it took me a long time to not be really reactive and really passive.

Michael Jamin:
But you still write out your material before as if any other comedian would, right? Or

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No? I do. I do. And now that I’ve been doing it so long, things will come to me and it’s always a joy. You, and I’m sure when you’re writing, sometimes you’ll get those one-liners really quick that you’re like, oh, that’s fully formed. I’d have one line that’s been in my act forever, but I just love it. It’s like, did you know you could do a bunch of yoga and still be an asshole? And that’s just a real quickie. I didn’t sit down trying to write that. And then I have a whole another scenario that follows that, where it’s like the kernel of it is truths, but the way it comes out is pretty fabricated.

Michael Jamin:
Do you have a preference as to, do you prefer acting or standup, or does it not make a difference to you?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I mean, at this point, I prefer standup just because there’s, well, there’s meat on the bone for that in terms of I get to be in control and I get to be on stage for an hour, and it’s hard and it’s challenging, it’s exhilarating. I love acting. It’s just lately it’s been a bit of diminishing returns in terms of parts that I can actually be challenged by. I would absolutely love to have something that I can dig into and that would have a lot of layers to it, something that I could come back and continue to be that character. But I’m going on 10 to 15 years of the life of a lot of guest stars, which is great. I’m very thankful, and I will do that again. But that’s got its own. You’re coming onto a set where everybody knows each other and you’re just like, I got to now in two days, fit into the tone of the show, and then I do my one thing and then I leave.

Michael Jamin:
And you prefer, because you do a lot of comedy, I mean, do you prefer drama then to do, is that more satisfying to you?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I mean, 24 was pretty satisfying just because it was such a big show and it was so different for me.

Michael Jamin:
But also, you were kind of the relief character. You were the awkward weirdo, right? Totally. Yeah.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
But is there a plan then with your, I mean, I don’t know why I’m asking this. Is there more to it? Is there a bigger plan for you doing all this standard? No,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I need your help because my help

Michael Jamin:
Want your help

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Would, my dream would be to be able to get another acting role that I could be a regular character on something. It’s a big dream. My other dream would be to sell out the tickets in the small clubs that I do, so that I could sustain what I’m already doing. And so when you say, is there a plan, that would be the plan. I don’t necessarily know if I get to do that or not. I’ve got a few more pushes in me, and if one of those things doesn’t start to pay off, I will be trying to pay for my lavish lifestyle in some other way. Maybe OnlyFans, maybe some feet videos. I heard on OnlyFans, there’s big breasted women making smoothies. I could do the small breasted women making smoothies on OnlyFans.

Michael Jamin:
Wait, so they’re not naked, but they’re just making smoothies. They’re naked. Oh,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Let me talk to you about something. I’ve spent zero time on there, but I was podcast. I have a new podcast called that. Woo. You do. Please promote it because I that

Michael Jamin:
Woo. You do for sure

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
At that. Woo. You do. I have a partner. We talk about what’s a woo that you do that, A magical thinking thing that you do in your life that you think, anyway, we were digressing and our producer went on to OnlyFans. The thing about it is there’s whole universe of stuff. I think it started out as soft core porn, and now it’s like everything. And I can’t say much more. I only spent about 40 seconds on there. But you go on there, you get an onslaught of all different kinds of things that, I mean, people are doing comedy on there. People are doing,

Michael Jamin:
Oh, really? On there? Yeah. So you’re saying not just porn, it’s just

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It’s not just porn anymore. Whitney Cummings is doing, she did the Burt Er roast on OnlyFans. Anyway, I’m here to promote my podcast at that. Woo. You do. They don’t need,

Michael Jamin:
But let’s talk about your, okay, so what’s the premise of your show, your podcast?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
So my friend Jeffrey and I, he comes on the road with me. He’s a very funny comedian. He features for me, and we enjoy each other’s company. And he may or may not, I may, he maybe carries crystals in his pockets sometimes.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I have some crystals right here. I keep ’em on my computer in case That’s what I’m talking about for creativity. It’s California.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah. Fuels. So the podcast is what is the woo that maybe you’re embarrassed about that you do that you think, have you written yourself a check for a million dollars? Do you keep crystals on your desk to harness the energy from the universe? We had a guy talk that he started praying. I had a story about going to visit a crystal skull. One lady talked, of course psychics came up. But there’s all different types of little things that you think is going to give you or things that make you happy. And they’re sort of like a magical thinking.

Michael Jamin:
But that’s a great idea actually, because it’s very small, but it’s very optimistic and helpful

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
For a podcast. And I had one woman who was like, she wasn’t on the pod, but she’s like, I don’t have a woo. I don’t have a woo. And the more we talked, she said, I’m very organized though. And I said, well, what does that bring you? And then I love organizing as a woo, because that gives her a sense of peace and calmness. And it’s like, what’s that thing you do that makes you feel good?

Michael Jamin:
When I was struggling a few years back, I was all depressed about something. And then I read this book and it was very new agey. There’s a lot of the book that was, I thought this is very helpful, but this is really helpful. But then it went a little too far, and I was like, ah, you’re fucking ruined it. I was on board. And then you just took it one step so far. But one of the things that he said that I thought was so helpful, it was about kind of visualizing your life or whatever. And one of the things that was so helpful, he said, it’s already happened. It just hasn’t happened yet. Whatever you want. It’s already happened. It just hasn’t happened yet. And so I was like, that was so profound to me. It was like, oh. So now I just have to figure out how to make it happen. Already done. I don’t know why. I find that really helpful. Maybe it doesn’t help you at all.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I love that. Well, it sort of eases the pain of, I think the idea is like we’re supposed to go through these challenges and take little steps, but it’s like watering a plant. You’re not just like, why aren’t you grown? Why aren’t you a tree yet? But you’re like, oh, you will be a tree. And I just know you’re growing and it doesn’t help to go like, why aren’t you this yet?

Michael Jamin:
And that’s what you’re doing now, because you’re just putting this energy out there. You’re putting it with going on the road, which is not easy. And you’re putting the energy out there hoping that something will come from it and something will, you just don’t know what it will be.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Right. And I’m really hoping to, looking back on my life, that was a long time ago that we pitched that. I had a very good run of good fortune with having the parts shine on me for a little while there. And then of course, with the massive show of 24, and people know me from always Sunny in Philadelphia now, even though that’s only a couple episodes. But I’ve been very lucky, but I still want to do it. So we’ll see.

Michael Jamin:
When you’re on the road, because you are on the road a lot, how many days were you on the road?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It’s just a

Michael Jamin:
Lot. Okay. So when you’re on the road, will you go from one city to the next, or do you always come back to la?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I try to come back, and the best case scenario for me would be to do two weekends a month. But it doesn’t work out like that. Now, this month of November, I’m going to be out for almost the entire month because I have a lot of one nighters. Some won’t give you a weekend booking some clubs. So it’s just one nighters that I can get booked, and then I’m going.

Michael Jamin:
And then do you drive from city to city then, or what? Or you fly?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, at the time, I’m just doing a lot of one-way flights,

Michael Jamin:
One-way, flights back and forth.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
It’s exhausting. It

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Is exhausting.

Michael Jamin:
It’s

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Very bizarre.

Michael Jamin:
Tell me what it is. Okay, so you go to some city. Let’s say you’re going to Boston, right? You’re flying the night before. What is it really like?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah, you’re asking me at a weird time because I just booked a bunch of flights. And some of ’em, if I have a one night or somewhere, I’m not getting paid for four or five shows. What’s nice, what’s the best is if you can fly in the night before you wake up, you chill out, and you do a whole weekend of shows.

Michael Jamin:
And then after the last show, you fly back, or do you wait another day?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, after the last show, you fly back. Well, you have to spend the night, but usually it’s like 6:00 AM I’m out the next morning I be home and take the kid to school and pick up the kid from school.

Michael Jamin:
And what would happen if your flight got caught somewhere or a connecting flight? What would happen if you missed your connecting flight to this show? What happens?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Hey, it’s just another day that he stays with his dad and they got to take a couple

Michael Jamin:
Of men for you. But you missed the show. I’m saying.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Oh, you’re saying if I don’t make it to the show?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Well, that hasn’t happened yet.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
But yeah. And this time in November, I’ve got a lot of, there’s Portland, there’s Alameda, California, there’s Sacramento, there’s Utah, and they’re all within a few days. So I’m doing these little flights, and some of them are the same day of the show. There’s one where I get in at 4:00 PM and the show’s at seven or eight. And that’s just the way it’s going to

Michael Jamin:
Be way it is. But I also think, alright, so exhausting from the travel. I dunno why I’m so stuck on the practicality of this whole thing. But then you have to psych yourself up to go up on stage at whatever, nine o’clock or whatever. Isn’t your energy sap by that time? Yeah. What do you do?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I napped before and then I make sure that I have enough time to wake myself up from the nap. And then also, if I’m feeling really dark and low energy, I just let myself go there. If you try to push it away, it just makes it worse.

Michael Jamin:
So you’re about to go on stage and you’re fucking exhausted. And then when you go there,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
What happens is I’ve experimented with different versions. I was saying I was real reactive in the past. Sometimes I would get really in my head and I get really quiet, and I’ve learned techniques. If I’m feeling low, feeling exhausted, I carry that with me on the stage. I’m honest with it. Then I use it. And then it’s like little stepladders, you get out of it because you’re standing on stage in front of an audience, but it’s using the honesty of where you’re at. And then that exhaustion oftentimes will turn into annoyance, will turn into anger, will turn into humor. I mean, there’s one example where I got booked at, I thought was a club. It was a bar show. It was in a weird part of town. It was honestly very white trashy, for lack of a better word. And I was like, I never drink before shows. And I started drinking. And then by the time I got on stage, I was like, I don’t know why I got booked here. I don’t know what this is.

Michael Jamin:
Did you say that as part of your act? Yes, you did.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
And they loved it because I was being honest and I took my reality. I was like, what is this? I walked around the building, it’s like a dirt parking lot. I don’t even know what’s happening. Why are you guys here? Why? And

Michael Jamin:
That must’ve depressed when you showed up. You don’t deserve me. That’s hilarious.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
One of the funnest shows ever. And I started categorizing the audience, you guys are, what? Is this over? Okay, you guys are, this is what you’re going to do. And I started naming them and oh my

Michael Jamin:
God,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
The guy who went on before me. But again, this is also after many, many shows under my belt. I wouldn’t recommend just doing that. But we’re talking about addressing this darkness in my soul because I already know a lot of things about myself. Honestly. I know the caliber that I can work at, and I know that I’m not necessarily a super joke Smith wordsmith. You know what I mean? I know my lane and I know my strengths and I know my experience, and I know that I am not just going on stage to be pissed off to shit on them. I know that I’m going to transform it into something. And I have enough experience to know that I can do that.

Michael Jamin:
That’s so funny because you had this awful experience. The worst you show up, this is going to be terrible, and it turns out to be great because you acknowledge it. And were they there to see, I mean, it just seems like you’re okay, I’m Chloe. How would I get out of this fucking mess?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Oh, I mean, you’re really getting me going. I feel like I’m talking a lot because you’re going right into the minutiae. That’s very real. Things that become pump the show. When I first started going on the broad proper, 24 was actually still on the air. And I still had this, what was funny to me at least a decade ago was like, I’m uncomfortable. I don’t like myself. I had this thought, very self-deprecating, which will never completely go away, but very self-deprecating point humor, which to me was hilarious to expose that. But when I took the stage and they were expecting to see Chloe, it was completely confusing to them going, you’re a TV star, you’re Chloe. What is this person, this weirdo,

Michael Jamin:
This

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Interior? I don’t remember what the jokes were back then, but I developed, had to, it was like do or die. I had to survive. I had to sink or swim, and next thing you know, I’ve got a whole 15 minute chunk that’s like, oh, you’re my Jack Bauer. Oh, you. And I’m like, I’m not really good at computers guys. And I’m just playing because I can feel the energy and they need to be like that guy. He loves Jack Bauer. Oh, you’re the Jack Bauer of the show. And I developed jokes within that and ER’s not some of it dumb, but because they were so jacked up and only seeing that way that,

Michael Jamin:
But that’s interesting. They have this expectation. It’s natural. I guess they’re coming to the show. Are they coming to see you now because of Chloe or because of your, what do you think? Why are they coming out? Do you think?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It’s a mixture now, and it really is a true mixture. It’s people that don’t know why they’re there that don’t know me from anything. It’s people that know me from Always Sunny. It’s people that know me, Chloe, those two camps want to fight with each other. And it’s people who are comedy fans. It’s a real mixture.

Michael Jamin:
Do you feel, this is odd, because this is also, I guess this speaks also to your celebrity, but when you meet someone when they want to meet you, they want to shake your hand, they want to take a picture of you, is there a sense that you’re like, did I give you what you wanted?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Oh, yeah.

Michael Jamin:
What is that like for you?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I just let them say their thing

Michael Jamin:
And then what? That’s all they want. You just let them give ’em a chance to voice what they’re, and that’s it.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
You have to do. And I try to hear back to them their energy, and I try to listen and sort of validate their entry point. Because it depends. Some people are like, oh, my parents showed me 24. Some people are still in 24. There are certain people that watch it over and over again. And then there’s other people that are like Gail, the snail,
Whatever thing they want to experience. I try to, sometimes people will reference other things and always Sunny, they’ll go, oh, I can’t even think of it. I don’t watch the show. I love them. I think they are top notch. I love all those guys. I love Caitlyn. Known her for a long time. I don’t watch, I watch some, but people that watch that show have it memorized and they watch it over and over again and they make references to other things. And then I can see them a little bit. They’re a little disappointed where I’m like,

Michael Jamin:
Isn’t that weird?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
That thing.

Michael Jamin:
I get that even from, because we were on King of the Hill for five seasons, and sometimes people fans know the show better than I do, and I worked on it on shows that I worked on. I don’t remember them as well. And they do. And I always feel like, I don’t know, it’s awkward. It’s awkward for me. I don’t know how I’m supposed to be in speech.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
And it’s a huge compliment because you know that energy, you’re like, yes, that’s such a great, the fact that they identify with it and they know it so well is a wonderful thing. But as the person who creates it, you go like, yeah, I did it and then I moved on.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I’m not living in it, but it’s such a beautiful thing when people are fans of stuff. It’s just, I can’t be there. I got to get a job. You have

Michael Jamin:
To be in the president. Exactly. I think that you see this a lot. I mean, he hear about this a lot about stars, who I find, I talked about this a while ago. I saw an old clip of Eve Plum who played Marsha Brady, and she was the Jerry’s, I don’t know what show. She was on something, maybe Jerry Sprinkler, I don’t know. This is whatever, 20 years ago. And then someone from the audience said, they raised their hand. Can you just do it? I

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Remember that. I think I’ve seen that clip.

Michael Jamin:
And she was like, no. She like, she knew what she wanted and she wasn’t going to do it. And then she kind of, so the woman was, can you just say, and she wanted her to say, Marsha, Marsha Marcia. And she wouldn’t do it. And I felt I didn’t blame her at all. I mean, you could see why she didn’t want to do it. I didn’t blame

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Her. That’s probably for her. She’s like, that was,

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I was 10. Yeah. I can’t pretend like I’m still a 10-year-old. I live in the present, and I don’t think people recognize that. And it was a little heartbreaking because she was disappointing them. But you couldn’t blame her today. What do you expect?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It is heartbreaking. It goes from being an amazing thing to not cool after for a certain amount of time.

Michael Jamin:
Does it even for you the same way you mean?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, I mean, I really don’t mind it. And I’ve learned, for the most part, most people are just really nice. So I’m very lucky. Most people are just like, they love it, and then they say that and then they move on. The only thing that’s a little bit frustrating for me is running into a casting director who’s thinks I’m still, I mean, this was a few years ago, but she’s like, you’re on a 24, right? I’m like, no, dude, that’s been done for 13 years.

Michael Jamin:
No one’s on 24.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, speaking of the strike. And I make no residuals. And I made a low amount of money. And people think, because such a high profile show that, oh, you’re good, right? You’re done. I need to change the image of myself. But whatever.

Michael Jamin:
You have to constantly, it doesn’t end. I think people don’t realize that, especially for actors, you have to constantly get work and nothing’s a given. I am sure it’s a little easier for you because people know that when they hire you, they’re going to get a good performance. But it’s not like you still got to audition. You still got to go out for stuff. So it’s hard. Is it even hard? I mean, it must have much harder in the beginning, getting nos a lot as an actor hearing No. When you auditioned, getting rejected in the beginning, or was that not your case?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I mean, it’s not, yeah, the nose is one thing, but I think it’s what you were saying earlier, even though you were equating it to standup, for me, it’s getting it up again. And some people are better at this, but it’s making it a numbers game. But to put it out there per audition over and over again is harder than the nose. And I know the

Michael Jamin:
Oh, really?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah. It’s like, I don’t know.

Michael Jamin:
Do you have that same thing with standup as well, or no?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Here in my control. And more frequently you do it, but it also is a beast because if you take a few days off, it’s like, oh, I got to get back in.

Michael Jamin:
Why do you say that? It’s because the business side

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
And the timing and the rhythm

Michael Jamin:
And

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Being present, it’s just a constant. You’ve got to constantly work out that muscle.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And so you do crowd work as well then It sounds like you interact with them. Yeah. Yeah. Do you have a preference?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No. I mean, I remember there was this one club where the guy, it was, what’s that word? Not vanity, but he was retired, but was like, I’m going to start a comedy club, but didn’t put all this money into the drywall and the design and the sound, but the audience didn’t know why they were there. There was no sense of when you go into an older comedy club, like the Comedy Store or some of these places that have been there forever, the punchline in San Francisco, everyone knows why they’re there. The seats are close together, they’re facing the stage. They’re very simple things, but it’s hard to create that like, oh, we go here to see comedy. And that gets lost a lot lately. And there was a new club, and I remember it was like Whack-a-Mole where I’m teaching them how to focus. We’re at a show and these women, they’re drinking like they’re at a bar and they’re talking to each other. And I’m like, oh. And I got off the stage, walked into the audience and was like, oh yeah, you guys. And they’re like, we’re divorced too, and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, yeah, we’re the same, but you know what I wouldn’t do. Go to your show and then act like I was at a bar. And they were like, oh. And they shut up. But I

Michael Jamin:
Butt that. So strange. That’s the problem with standup. It’s different when you’re doing standup in front of a whatever. You sell a theater and you sell a lot of tickets. And when you’re in a club, people might be there just to socialize with their fucking friends. And so it’s a whole different thing, man. It’s a whole different level of, they could be hostile. I don’t know. That kind of stuff worries me a little bit. And I didn’t stand up when I was much younger, but I wasn’t thinking it through enough.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
What happened? Tell me about it.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, I don’t know. I just did it. Maybe you’ve heard there’s a club. I was from New York, so there’s a couple of clubs nearby. I would do it on the weekends and stuff, and I didn’t, colleges shows and stuff like that. But at some point I was like, you know what? I’d rather, what’s the end goal? I have to be on the road. Or if I become a comedy writer, then I can just stay in one place and I can go to sleep at a decent hour. So that’s what my thinking was, how to

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Be a comedy writer at the beginning. How did you learn how to edit down on the page?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, that’s really hard because it’s a different thing. I had took some classes and then I teamed up with Seabert, and then we started writing more scripts together. And then you have to learn story structure. That’s the hardest thing there is. But even I remember driving out here from New York after I graduated thinking, okay, think of something funny. What the fuck? No, it doesn’t work that way, man. I didn’t have a voice. That’s why I was talking. I didn’t know.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
So how did you find your voice?

Michael Jamin:
The voice thing? Well, when you’re writing on a TV show, you don’t, you find the voice of you, the actor you’re writing for, or you find the voice for the characters that are already there, not supposed to have your voice. You’re supposed to have their voice. And so when I was writing my book, maybe you can see it. So I wrote this book and I’ve been performing on it. So this is why I’m so curious to talk to performers. And the whole process of finding my voice was really scary. In the beginning. It was like, well, what can I write on my own without an executive giving me notes without, and then finding your voice meant just being honest. And that was really hard.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It was like, it feels like the wrong answer. Just be honest. Boom.

Michael Jamin:
Well be honest with who you are. You have to speak the truth. You have to be vulnerable. But there are times, as I’ve been performing two theaters, so it’s not standup because that’s different. You’re selling tickets and people are friendly. But there have been times before I go up every show, I kind of say to myself, why am I doing this again? I’m getting ’em nervous. Why am I doing this?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
You’re back in it. You’re performing.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah. We’ll just see where it takes me.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
And have you done a lot of, are you on the road?

Michael Jamin:
Well, I’ve done, we did, I don’t know, maybe I think eight shows in LA in a couple in Boston, and then I’m waiting for the book to drop. Then I’ll go back on the road again and we’ll see where I can sell tickets. That’s the hard We’ll see. We’ll see. People say they want to see me. Well, we’ll see. Because you’re literally selling one ticket at a time. You’re like, you’re talking about, Hey, come see me Boston. And you look at the ticket sales, oh, there’s a sale. Then you do another post and then another ticket sale. So it’s hard. Everything’s hard now. Is that your experience at all? Is any of this your experience?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, my shit is just, I’m just really selling out everywhere.

Michael Jamin:
Do you promote a lot? Is that what the podcast is for? At

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Woo. You do on all platforms at that. Okay. Sorry, what’d you say?

Michael Jamin:
No. Is that what the podcast is for? To help let people know you’re coming to their city or something?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah. And because Jeffrey does feature for me, I mean, that would be really, again, pretty dreamy. If it’s kind of all is starts part of the same package that people could listen to it, hear us, come see us live.

Michael Jamin:
Right. You could even do your podcast live. Is that something you want to do?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah. I mean, no, at this point, it depends.

Michael Jamin:
How many episodes are you dropping? You do one a week or something. And do you shoot it? Where do you record it?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
We record it in Sun Valley.

Michael Jamin:
In Sun Valley?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Is that good or bad? What’s wrong with that?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Our producers are there and they put

Michael Jamin:
It out. They have a studio. Yeah,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
They have a studio.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I know Sun Valley. Yeah.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Awesome.

Michael Jamin:
I like Sun Valley. They got that. Nice. There’s a Latuna Canyon. It’s my favorite road to tripod.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Oh

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I know the area Well.
Hey, it’s Michael Jamin. If you like my content, and I know you do because you’re listening to me, I will email it to you for free. Just join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos of the week. These are for writers, actors, creative types, people. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I’m not going to spam you, and the price is free. You got no excuse to join. Go to michaeljamin.com. And now back to, what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about?
Is there other projects? I don’t know what you want to work on other than I’m so curious. I really am curious to see where else this will take you, all this energy you’re putting into.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I know, right?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. I mean, other than I guess acting, I don’t know anything else.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Well, the thing is, I don’t know what else to do because I am an artist, so it’s always been tied to my personal life and my personal expression, and there’s a therapeutic aspect to it. And I don’t really, I feel like if I could have taken the route of, I don’t know. I never had the ability to be like, I’m going to write scripts, so I just amped up the thing that I am good at, and I’m hoping that it, I don’t know.

Michael Jamin:
What about theater do you think about? Or is that just not,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
That’s a money maker right there.

Michael Jamin:
Well, but you could say, is it less of a money maker than standup? Is that what it is?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I think so. I think it’s less of a moneymaker and more of a commitment.

Michael Jamin:
Well, I saw a show yesterday at the Geffen. It was a small little show. The theater was probably 99 CSS or something. I don’t know. It was a nice little show. Yeah, okay. But when you go on the road though, you’re effectively saying, you’re effectively saying, I can’t audition. I can’t be booked for anything. Well,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah, but if there’s no shows that are booking you, then you’re like, that’s what I’ve been on the road. Because it’s been sort of a diminishing return of, I mean, there’s no auditions to have really,

Michael Jamin:
I don’t know. I don’t know. And so are your agents help with that, or do you have a separate booking agent for the road? We

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Don’t want to go down the road of what is really, of how this is working for me.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, I’m so indelicate because I see all the time.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, not at all. It’s just

Michael Jamin:
I see you on Instagram performing and I’m like, you’re doing, you’re funny. You’re great. It seems like you’re doing fantastic in my eyes. So that’s why I’m like, yeah,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I’m doing fantastic.

Michael Jamin:
And then you get booked on all these shows and I don’t know. I don’t know. I think you’ve done a pretty amazing career, mean, especially when you look at all that you have done.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah, look at it that way.

Michael Jamin:
It’s

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Been really amazing. What do I get to do from here? I don’t know. And honestly, looking back on it, I’ve never known it’d be a nice idea for me to be able to go, I’m going to have this. I’m going to have that, and that’s going to pay off.

Michael Jamin:
Okay. So for me, I would be very, you’re an artist, so an artist. So artists know that there’s nothing, the freedom is, that’s the trade-off making that trade off. So how are you making sure that you’re good with that? How do you not worry about it? How do you not stress? How do you like, okay, I’m making art.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It’s really scary.

Michael Jamin:
You lean into it.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah, I just lean into it and I’ve been lucky enough to get a certain amount of work, and I look back on the year and I go, I don’t know how I did it.

Michael Jamin:
Really. Right. I have the same fear as myself. I’m like, okay, I’ve done it every year up till now, but I don’t know how I’m going to do it this year. Same

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Thing. I’ve had enough success that I, hopefully I have the building blocks you’re saying to be enough of a name to get in the door and make enough money to keep it going. It’s just like a big gamble. And I think I’m saying we’re going down a dark road. It’s not that I’m negative about it because I really love my career and I love what I do, but it does get to the point where you’re like, how much energy do I have? It’s a life of sacrifice. I don’t live the traditional life, especially now that I’m divorced. And it’s like, what’s going on? If you would’ve told me I would be driving to West Hollywood to do sets, I’m going, well, this feeds me. This helps me feel alive. It helps me feel creative. It must lead to something. And if it doesn’t,

Michael Jamin:
But do you have friends from back where you grew up who have vastly different non Hollywood lives who’ve just taken these jobs where, and can you relate to them now?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No.

Michael Jamin:
When was the last time you tried? Because I was recently at an event where I saw some people I grew up with and I was like, they all seem so grown up.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
They really know what’s going on.

Michael Jamin:
They,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
They really have these foundational beliefs, and they’ll explain their insurance policies to you and they’ll tell you about the drains in their yard. They have intimate knowledge of the duct work, and they’re remodeling the kitchen and they’re

Michael Jamin:
Right. It is always about the remodeling of the kitchen. That’s the big one. And whenever I hear it, I always get a little insecure. I always feel like, am I doing something wrong?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Oh yeah, I get really, because they’ll have the parties where it’s the same people come into the same place. And so-and-so’s bringing that same casserole again.

Michael Jamin:
And

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I don’t have that.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, you don’t have that?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No. My friends that I have in the twenties, everyone went off and had their lives. And also I’ve moved a lot of, and I get to socialize doing standup. But then you’re like, hi, bye. And then you kind of go back to your life and

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, because I wonder, I don’t know why I’m thinking of this, so I wonder if they have the same thoughts about your life. Are they like, man, Mary Lynn’s got it, she did it. Or Mary Lynn doesn’t have a, can’t talk about drains.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I think it’s both my best that it’s probably like, oh gosh, that poor thing. She has no stability. On the other hand, it’ll be the people that are like, can I go with you? Can I come on the road with you? And I’m like, really?

Michael Jamin:
I wonder, are they serious, do you think? Or what?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I don’t know. There’s different versions of it. There’s the woman that I ran into that I went to high school with who had a son, I think at the time, this was years ago, she had a 12-year-old son. She’s like, can I be your assistant and come on the road with you? And it’s like, I don’t know what she was worked at some company that sold fans or something like ceiling fans. I don’t know what you think this is, but oh, you’re going to take, first of all, I’m not going to pay you anything. If I’m able to pay anything, it’s going to be a drastic pay cut and then what the same bed as me, and you’re going to be away from your son. How does that work? And you’re going to do exactly what.

Michael Jamin:
And do you ask them that? Or is it just like you just kind of change the subject?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I just change the subject.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah. I think because obviously this,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It’s kind of messed up. It’s sort of a compliment of like, oh, you think this is some fantastical thing? Yeah, let’s just change the subject and let that live in your mind as some other than what it actually is.

Michael Jamin:
They don’t see the reality of it. They really don’t, which is so interesting.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, it’s part of the magic of going on stage and doing a show. I’m sure any person could stop and go, oh, she probably napped until 4:00 PM and didn’t talk to anybody except for two words to the lady at the front desk. But you get to be there and have this show and have the magic of being in that moment and being in that space.

Michael Jamin:
Is it hard for you to come down after you perform?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I’ve gotten used to it.

Michael Jamin:
I mean, so what do you do? Do you hang out at the comedy club for a little bit or you just head back and go a little bit? You do a little bit, a little bit. Interesting. And then you can go back to sleep. I dunno, it’s hard to come down from when you’re on stage. You are in 100%. You’re giving everything. You’re not letting a moment. Your mind is racing. You’re not letting anything. It’s not like a day at the office where you get your feet up and you’re really not paying attention. You are a hundred percent in it, and it’s exhausting. A

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
High and a low. Yeah, for sure.

Michael Jamin:
It’s exhausting, right? I mean, it really is. Yeah, it’s great. But it’s exhausting

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Typically. I mean, I’m not saying everyone’s like this, but typically it’s like sometimes you’ll have friends in the city and they’re like, oh, come with us to dinner. It’s like, I’m not sitting for dinner before a show.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, you got to focus, right? Do you run through your set before every show or you at the point you don’t need to do that?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Well, right now I’m running through my set because I’m taping in Chicago, but I’m only doing one show. So I’m trying to trick myself because usually you do a whole weekend and I will get an idea of the set list. And then sometimes, a lot of times I will have an incident or some fact about the city. So I’ll try to have that at the beginning as a greeting of something that happened that day or facts about their city. And depending on sometimes that’ll be more fruitful than others, and that’ll get me going. I’ll think of something funny that I can just try off the cuff at the beginning of that.

Michael Jamin:
Well, that’s interesting. So are you trying to give these shows a shape or is it just like, I want to give as many laughs as I can in however long I’m on stage, or is there a shape to it?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Usually as many laughs and I’ve gotten to the point where, and this is because I’ve done a ton of shows lately, it’s gotten to the point where point, this last time I was out, I just went, I’m going to do my closer first once I get to the end of that to see where the energy is and to see what I say next.

Michael Jamin:
So you tried doing your closer first, which is going to be strong, and then what happened when you got to the end of your set? You’re like, I don’t have a closer now.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I mean, it was really fun. It was really exciting. It got it to this level and the energy carried through to the other pieces, and it kind of caused me to deliver the other things better, honestly.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, that’s interest. That really is interesting.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Ending on something else, but I have enough to play around with where Yeah, you’re kind of in your head. I’m going, oh, I guess I’m going to say that now I’m present, but I’m also moving things around a little bit.

Michael Jamin:
And it’s that, you’re right, it is about that. The excitement is when you don’t get the laugh where you thought you were going to get a laugh, you go things, they’re about to go off the rails, right?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah. The way you’re thinking about this, I’m like, you’re going to be on the road doing standup soon.

Michael Jamin:
I don’t know. It’s such a different thing. It really is such a different thing. Like I said, sometimes the audiences, well, sometimes they’re not really there to see you. They’re there to go out with their friends and have a drink and you’re just in their way. You’re talking through their night out in the town. I’ve seen it enough guys. It can be rude. Staff can be, they can be rude.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Go to a bar. What are you doing?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, what are you doing? Yeah, but I feel like when I, at least when I perform, it’s a little different. They’re there to ing. I feel like someone asked me before, what are you going to do if they heckle? I’m like, oh, no one’s going to heckle. That’s not that kind of show. I would assume that’s not going to happen. Not that kind of show. It’s like,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I’m sad I missed your LA show. So are you reading from your book and talking in between or

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, it’s more performative. It’s like a reading is here, but it is really up and out. It’s up and out. It’s kind of like, well, have you ever seen any David Seras? You ever seen it perform? Yeah, it’s a little like that, but it’s a little more performative, a little more, but that’s what it is. So I’ll let you know when the next time is, but yeah, it was a little terrifying the first time, and I had to take acting lessons. I had to learn how to act.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
You did

Michael Jamin:
Well. Yeah. I, I’ve directed actors, but it’s one thing when you do it yourself. Here’s the problem. My wife directed, and I met her when she was an actor, so she knows how to act because I met her on set, and so she directs it, and she’s like, the first time we’re rehearsing, she goes, you’re taking the stage all wrong. I’m like, what do you mean? Because I’m walking on stage and it’s like that. She’s like, no, no, no, no, no. You’re a rock star when you take the stage. I’m like, but I’m not a rock star. You are. When you take the stage and it’s a whole different energy.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Imagine people going, it’s Chloe from 24, and I’m like, hi guys. I just learned by throwing myself into that fire, like, oh, I have to match at least what their images of me and then more I’ve got to bring myself,

Michael Jamin:
Because they’re coming to see someone famous. They’re coming to see their favorite character on a TV show, whatever it is, and that’s what they want. That’s what they

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Want. Got to represent your work. Otherwise it’s like, why is this guy,

Michael Jamin:
Why is this guy here?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Or it’s like, what is that?

Michael Jamin:
They don’t want that. That’s exactly right. They don’t want that.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
That is the equivalent of a strong choice out of the gate, a clear intention, but

Michael Jamin:
It felt like imposter syndrome, it felt like, but I’m not, it’s too bad. That’s what they want to see. That’s what they paid to see. Yeah.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, that’s great.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, so there’s a bunch of stuff like that and also about Jesus, it’s about giving, allowing, allowing there to be a silent moment for a second, which is terrifying. Oh

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah. I love the silences.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I mean, it’s different when you’re reading from your book, but through the acting point of view is because you’re listening.

Michael Jamin:
You’re listening.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It’s not meant to be like, here’s what I’m saying. The words are an after effect of your intention and what you’re reacting to.

Michael Jamin:
But in my case, there’s an audience and it’s dark. I can’t see them. I know they’re there. And so when you say I’m listening, I’m not hearing anything. I’m just sensing it, right?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Well, no, you’re listening to, you are becoming a listener within your own material that you’re presenting.

Michael Jamin:
You think I’m listening to myself,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
So you’re like, standup is similar in that. I’m not explaining it so clearly, but it’s like I had to learn in standup because I am an actor, that I’m the narrator, so I hold the space and I create the context, but I’m also the character within it. So it’s the character that’s listening. So you are presenting it. You’re not the rockstar, but the character guy that’s going to come. I’m telling you this story, and once I start telling you the story, I enter into that story and I become the character of the story.

Michael Jamin:
It’s so interesting. You have given this thing, this performing thing, a lot of thought, right? Am I right? You think about this a lot. I mean, most actors or I don’t think people appreciate that as much talking like an artist would talk. I really think so, because you’re saying you’ve given a lot of thought. You’re explaining the thought. You don’t just go up there and talk. That’s not what you’re doing. You’ve given it a lot of thought about what your obligation is to being on stage and how you have to, I guess, the obligation to the art that you create.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Another point of that listening thing goes back to the point of view, which you do when you’re writing scripts in order to write through that person’s voice. Voice, listen, that character listens in a certain way, so it’s their perspective,

Michael Jamin:
But call on a little bit more about, okay, so what is it you think I have to do or B, when I’m on stage, give me some acting. Give me some lessons here.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Well, it depends on what you’re saying, but I think I was going off of you saying the silences imagining you take a moment because you’ve just said something and you’re wanting to sink in, or what you’ve said had a certain tone, certain or intention that you don’t want to rush through because you’ve either just made a point or you expressed something in a certain way that needs space.

Michael Jamin:
It requires a lot of trust though, because when you take that space, you want the audience, I want to let you feel it. Just take a second to feel it. But the trust it requires is that they are actually feeling it.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
That’s right.

Michael Jamin:
And maybe they’re not. That’s the problem.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
That’s right. Space in between is the dangerous, and when you talk about on, when I see you on ig, talking about AI is like, this is the back and forth that we want. This is the we come together. I’m going to say something. I’m going to see if it affects you. I’m going to say it with an intention. Did you hear it the way that I intended or did something else happen? Making me think of those articles. When you press listen and it comes out in an AI voice,

Michael Jamin:
What people, that’s what they don’t get. Yeah, that’s what they don’t get. When I talk about can AI do what artists do? And they go, yes, they can. I’ve already seen it, and they’re like, I don’t think you understand the thought that we put into this. I think you’re missing what we try to do here.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
And you do that all the time, because I’ve watched a lot of your clips lately where you’ll be explaining something and then you’ll digress and go into a joke, and you’re immediately without thinking about it because you thought of the joke, and then you’re acting it out, and then you’re going back to what you’re saying. Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
But sometimes even when I watch myself, I go, eh, I did it better in my head.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Exactly.

Michael Jamin:
That’s exactly right. Yeah. But to me, so I’m glad you said this. I think that it actually helps me. That’s the part that I was getting stuck on, the trusting that the audience is feeling what I want to feel in that silence and that they’re not doing this or whatever.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Right now, you’re in the position to deliver it, usually giving your script to someone else and going, you be in the Deliver it walk. I’ll tell you, if you’re delivering it, now you’re in the driver’s seat of that,

Michael Jamin:
And it really gives me a new appreciation for really how hard it is. And by the way, do it 10 times while the cameras are over here and while people are walking and, oh, this is going on. We need you to be in that moment 10 times and oh, off walk and go and now, yeah, it’s a hard job being in that moment. Yeah,

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
That’s the weirdest part.

Michael Jamin:
What do it now.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah, because you’re making yourself vulnerable again and again, and you’re coming to that point over of jumping off. I remember I was at school, it was like a game of throne sketch and there was another mom, and it was just that we were out on the lawn of the school and it was something for the fundraiser and one of the other moms were joking around, I’m doing my bit, and the camera turns to her and she’s got whatever it was, whatever spoof of somebody wrote, it turns to her and she went and she got it, fucked her up. And I started laughing and I was like, yeah, it’s humiliating. And she had to say, it was like one line as my dragons, and she just went, ah. And I watched her just crumble. And I go, yeah, yeah, yeah. That moment every time you hit that point of humiliation because you’ve got to open up and commit and put yourself out there to make an ass of yourself or put the most tender parts of yourself, you’re getting ready for the moment and then when the moment happens, I don’t know. It’s a weird thing you’re showing up. Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
Exactly. You said it perfectly. I totally understand that. And so she just thought this was going to be easy and it made you laugh because it’s like, see, this is every day I got to do this

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Weird thing. Well, I don’t know why someone is holding a camera. They just turned it on you and they said, say a certain thing in a certain way. How do you do that?

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. It makes you self-conscious of your existence now you Right. And then what do you do then when you’re on, when you become aware of your existence and your acting, what do you do?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Yeah,

Michael Jamin:
What do you do? You’re heads and the cameras are on you and you’re like, oh fuck, I’m in a show. There’s lights and everything.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
That’s the question. Hopefully you get paid for it is what you do.

Michael Jamin:
Hopefully you

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Get paid to figure out,

Michael Jamin:
You get paid, right. But so do you talk to other actors a lot about this? Is this a conversation actress? Why not?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, but when I do, because I should more, it’s actually is really, honestly, it’s pretty invigorating. But I’ll run into people and we’ll sort of organically stumble upon it. Maybe there are people that talk about it. I don’t, it’s very nice when I get to have comradery like

Michael Jamin:
That. But when you’ve been on set and you surely you’ve worked with some, let’s say, older, bigger stars, you don’t ask ’em, Hey, how about some tips? What do you do?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Not really. I mean, there was one thing I wrote about it in my book called Ish, also my podcast at that. Woo. You do. But there

Michael Jamin:
Was one, and that’s a great title by the way.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Thank you so much. It’s on the 24 where I had to act to a blank computer screen, but someone I knew or cared about was being tortured. But in the moment it was like go and I was just by myself in front of a blank computer screen and I did ask Kiefer’s advice and it was super helpful. And he really actually stood off screen and talked me through it. So he became my partner and he was telling me what I was seeing. So he helped me with some.

Michael Jamin:
What was the advice he gave specifically, do you remember?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It wasn’t really advice, he just helped me. It was like, okay, he’s on the bike, the guys are coming up to him. They grabbed his head, he fell on the ground. So I was reacting. He was acting out the scene for me

Michael Jamin:
And he

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Letting me know that I wasn’t crazy for going, how do you do this? I’m sitting in front of the blank screen. And so in that moment, from that point on, if he wasn’t there, I knew how to, I’m just creating that in my head.

Michael Jamin:
A lot of people think that’s the job of the director on a TV show, but often there’s really no time for them to even do any of that, right?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
Correct. They’re thinking of a bunch of different things and they might course correct you, but they’re not giving you, this is the actor’s work is to know all that. They’ll make adjustments along the way, but they’re looking at all these other aspects at the same time.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. It’s not what maybe you think it is. It’s not like a rehearsal time. It’s like, no, you show up to work. Go and go. Did you study? Did you train a lot for, where did you train for?

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
No, I was lucky enough to get very much on the job training

Michael Jamin:
Because the way you talk about it, it makes it sound like you did study.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I mean, I’ve taken a couple classes here or there, but nothing. It was sort of on the fly. I did acting in high school, so I knew I sort of knew what blocking was, but I really got schooled. I got schooled by Gary Shambling. I was already on the Larry Show, and I put this in my book too, and he’s like, cut. And he looks at me and he goes, what are you thinking? I was like, oh, because he called me out because I wasn’t anything. And I was like, and he goes, you need to know what your character is thinking. I was reacting and I was interesting, but at the moment he knew there was a backstory that I was supposed to have in my mind and I didn’t. And he called me out on it. And from that point forward, I was like, oh, subtext. I was just like a part. I just happened to be whatever, lucky enough to be interesting or have certain qualities. I got hired and I sort of instinctually did it. But from that moment on, I was like, subtext, subtext, subtext.

Michael Jamin:
So this discussion we just had, these are just basically questions you’ve been asking yourself over the course of your career and thinking about Yeah, yeah, yeah. Which is so interesting. Like other actors, you’re talking about stuff that’s been taught and you came to it yourself, and it’s only the way you came to it is because you have to ask these questions. If you’re an actor, it doesn’t matter if it’s your teacher teaches you or you figure it out yourself, it all leads to the truth, which is what you have to do. Or

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
A lot of times it’s like how to make something work like you’re hired or even you’re asked to do a comedy sketch and it’s like, how do I sell this joke, but be true to the intention, but move the scene forward. Also, it could be anything. It could be like, oh, I’m at a table so that I am not seeing that thing that would’ve caused me to react. It’s just, yeah, you’re always being asked questions. How do I thing quickly or whatever.

Michael Jamin:
It’s a shame that our show didn’t go, we could have had this discussion 10 years ago.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I know we really could have been creating episodes

Michael Jamin:
And talking about stuff and making art or something, but instead we have podcasts. Well, I guess we could wrap, but I’ve taken so much of your time. But I want to thank you so much for, let’s talk about, let’s plug your podcast one more time and make sure, is there any, well, I don’t know when this is going to drop, or also I’d say see you on the road, but you must have a website where people could find out where they can follow you on the road or your Instagram or something.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
It’s Mary Lynn, mary lynn.com. Follow me on Instagram and go check out at that. Will you do in between listening to your podcast?

Michael Jamin:
Oh yeah. Go. Definitely check it out. And yeah, it’s interesting. I think this will have people have a new appreciation for what you do because you make it look easy, but it’s not, you put a lot of thought into this.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
I love it. I really do. So, so great. I’m so happy that you’re having all this success on social because you’re just very natural and insightful and inquisitive and caring and thoughtful.

Michael Jamin:
I hope so. That’s the character I play. That’s my character.

Mary Lynn Rajskub:
You’re a factor.

Michael Jamin:
My character is nicer than I am. But thank you so much. Thank you so much for joining me, and don’t go anywhere I was. Thank you. One more time as we sign up. Alright everyone, another interesting talk about art and writing and creativity. Thank you so much. Until next week, keep writing or doing whatever it’s you’re doing.
So now we all know what the hell Michael Jamin’s talking about. If you’re interested in learning more about writing, make sure you register for my free monthly webinars @michaeljamin.com/webinar. And if you found this podcast helpful or entertaining, please share it with a friend and consider leaving us a five star review on iTunes that really, really helps. For more of this, whatever the hell this is, follow Michael Jamin on social media @Michael Jamiwriter and you can follow Phil Hudson on social media @PhilaHudson. This podcast was produced by Phil Hudson. It was edited by Dallas Crane and music was composed by Anthony Rizzo. And remember, you can have excuses or you can have a creative life, but you can’t have both. See you next week.

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Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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