After graduating from high school, Lynch enrolled at Illinois State University as a Mass Communications major to appease her anxious parents who, she says, were worried she'd never get a job. "But by the end of my freshman year, I was a full-on theater major," she says. "I changed my major, and I don't think I even bothered to tell anybody."
Lynch went on to get a Master of Fine Arts at Cornell University, and even toyed with the idea of eschewing comedy altogether. "I thought I should be a very serious theater actor doing Shakespeare and the like," she says. "But what I really wanted to do was exactly what I am doing and be in ensemble comedies, especially the Christopher Guest stuff where we're making it up as we go along."
Before landing her first feature film role, Lynch's quick wit was tested at Chicago's Second City improv theater, a training ground for cut-ups like Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Steve Carrell and countless other comedians. In the 1990s, Lynch toured the country as Carol Brady in The Real Live Brady Bunch, a stage show that featured reenactments of The Brady Bunch episodes.
"Flying by the seat of your pants is what you learn doing Second City and The Real Live Brady Bunch. It's being open to things not going like you thought they were going to be, and to be able to flow with that and roll with that," she says. "You never knew what was going to happen, and that was part of the fun too."