These are the glory days for Jane Lynch, character actress, scene stealer and now “the TV season’s biggest breakout star” (Entertainment Weekly).

“It’s been quite a year,” she says, while vacationing in Sarasota, Fla., and taking a break from “Glee” and the movies, and the viral sensation of her recreation of Madonna’s “Vogue” video.

It’s not every year that a workhorse character actress like Lynch — a veteran of more TV episodes than you can count, a mainstay in the film comedies of Christopher Guest and Judd Apatow — becomes the biggest thing in funny.

But she’s not letting it go to her head. She’s hanging on to her roots, taking a bit-part ogre role in “Shrek Forever After.” Because there was a time, long before “Glee,” “Julie & Julia” or even “Best in Show,” when Lynch was more a voice than a face.

“I was a voiceover person for years, before the Christopher Guest movies came along,” she says. “That’s how I made my living back then.”

She did commercials and moved into animated voice roles in “Holly Hobbie and Friends,” and more recently “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and “Space Chimps.” It paid the bills, and “Shrek,” in which her role is tiny, reminded her of those days.

“That’s how I roll,” she cracks. “I pop in for a few lines, and pop out. That’s the way my life tends to go.”

Well, not any more. Lynch, a Second City comedy troupe alumnus, sees herself as a funny woman in the right place at exactly the right time. This is the golden age of “the ensemble comedy,” she says. That’s the secret to her success.

“It’s all about ensemble, be it a Judd Apatow film or Christopher Guest or whoever,” she says. “When I do Christopher Guest’s movies, or ‘Talladega Nights,’ or ‘Role Models,’ it doesn’t matter if it’s Will Ferrell or Steve Carell or Jane Lynch saying the funny line. The best joke wins.”

She had done a lot of TV pilots that went nowhere before “Glee” caught fire. “It’s rooting for the underdog” that makes the show work. “The hierarchy of high schools is kind of a microcosm of the society we all live in. You’re mocked for your differences.”

Soon we’ll see Lynch in “Paul,” an ensemble comedy about two “alien enthusiasts” (Nick Frost and Simon Pegg) who stumble into a real alien at Area 51.

Lynch, who will turn 50 in July, isn’t taking her success for granted.

“A lot of character actors have come up to me and told me how great it is for a character actor like me to get a little chance to shine a little brighter,” she says. “If only for a while.”


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