Entertainment

‘24’ star transitions from sullenness to silliness

Mary Lynn Rajskub has lost her wallet, and is on her way to get a new driver’s license.

It’s the type of problem that Chloe O’Brian – the uber-resourceful computer genius she played for nine-plus years on the Fox TV franchise “24” – could have solved with a few keystrokes and one or two mouse gestures.

But Rajskub must sit in midday traffic on an L.A. freeway, then stand in line like everyone else at the Department of Motor Vehicles. “Wish me luck,” she says. “I don’t know the last time I actually stepped foot in one.”

If there was any humor that could be mined from her recent visit to the DMV, she probably found it. And if she did, perhaps it’ll wind up among the jokes she tells during her stand-up shows at The Comedy Zone in Charlotte, where Rajskub will perform four times over two nights.

You read that right: Mary Lynn Rajskub (pronounced “rice-cub”) – so often seen looking anything but amused opposite “24” star Kiefer Sutherland – is a comedian.

In the ’90s, pre- “24,” she was a regular on the sketch comedy series “Mr. Show with Bob and David” and had recurring roles on the sitcoms “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Veronica’s Closet.” Today, post-“24” (unless it gets another reprieve), she is out on the road.

“I did a lot of comedy before ‘24,’ but I never went on the road to clubs, so this is an interesting experience to be doing this at this point in my life,” says Rajskub, 43, a wife and mother of a son, Valentine, 6. “And it’s working, so I’m kind of like, ‘Oh man, what have I gotten myself into?’ ”

Her success in filling up clubs is due in large part to the popularity of the show, which returned to Fox this year for the first time since 2010 as the 12-episode miniseries “24: Live Another Day.”

“Ninety-five percent of the people are coming out because they watched ‘24,’ ” she says. “They’re like, ‘What? The girl from ‘24’ is doing stand-up?’ So they’re excited about that, but they don’t know what to expect.”

When “24” debuted in 2001, Rajskub’s Chloe was an analyst for a counterterrorism agency and a decidedly minor character. But she was pushed closer to the forefront as her friendship with hero Jack Bauer (Sutherland) developed – in spite of her sullen personality.

While dozens of other regular characters died around her, Chloe became increasingly popular. She was central to Season 8, and in promoting “Live Another Day,” Fox used posters focusing on Sutherland and Rajskub.

And like “Seinfeld” cult hero Newman (played by Wayne Knight), Chloe is in an elite class of TV characters.

Consider this: During a recent interview on a Fox affiliate’s TV morning show, the co-host accidentally started to address Rajskub by her character’s name.

“I get that a lot, (people who) will be compelled to call me Chloe,” Rajskub says. “It feels really weird as just a person going through life, of course that is bizarre, but then you think, ‘How great is it that they love the show that much and they identify me with it?’ It’s a very special, strange circumstance.”

As for her stand-up show, she calls it a mix of observational comedy and personal stories.

“About accidentally getting pregnant, and having a kid, and not even liking the baby at first,” she says.

But there’s also – of course – a dose of “24”-related material.

“I hit on the fact that I’m not really a computer genius – that I’m kind of the opposite, and what a disappointment that is to people.”

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