Published Jul 25, 2016Though Mary Lynn Rajskub's show had several unique stories and a few great callbacks, it was still mediocre. Filled with unnecessary powerpoint slides and lacking in hard-hitting humour, 24 Hours with Mary Lynn Rajskub bumbled along through anecdotes that were wild, yet somehow only satisfactorily engaging.
Rajskub's stories were often outlandish. Over the course of the performance, she talked about her husband spending thousands of dollars on an exotic cat that ended up having a distended anus, told the audience how she almost accidentally killed her child, and even recounted buying a pony as an impulse purchase. These premises were so solid that they could never completely fail, but they still fell flat because Rajskub told the crowd little beyond the plot points of her experiences. She seldom used descriptions or comparisons to help her audience envision what she was saying: instead, she opted to project pictures, usually stock images, of what she was referencing.
This was not just a lazy device that helped her get away with not bothering to enrich her writing, it was a visual distraction that fractured her ability to command the audience. The frequent slide changes drew attention away from both her delivery and her words, and sometimes even stunted the natural flow of her speech as she paused to look at the images with the audience.
Worse yet, the unnecessary slides spoiled Rajskub's bit about a silly greeting card because the picture of the card's cover projected behind her barely corresponded to her very loose rephrasing of what it said. This lack of consistency between her words and her media was grating, plus it made her seem unprofessional because it would have been so easy to avoid.
On the other hand, Rajskub's hour had its moments. Her story about a gorgeous fan who reacted with dramatic dismay to her choice to leave acting for standup was amusing, and the subsequent callback to it during a story about a handsome yoga instructor was very smart. Moreover, her explanation of how she used to fake hacking on the TV show 24 was amusing, and the way she intertwined her stories throughout her act was very smooth. Unfortunately, Rajskub focused so much on strengthening the overall arc of her show that she forgot to make each story good enough to stand on its own, and the lack of attention to detail showed through.