Jillian Bell is earning raves for her turn in ''22 Jump Street'' as the nasty coed who starts a fistfight with Jonah Hill; and socking it to an Oscar nominee is just her warm-up act

June 20, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

When Jillian Bell was 8, she got kicked out of ballet class. ”I was too bored doing first position and all that,” says the Las Vegas native. ”I just wanted to be spinning around in my fabulous tutu. So they asked me to leave.” But then her mom enrolled her in an improv class. ”I fell in love with it. I don’t know if I would be good at anything else, so — knock on wood — hopefully this works out for me.”

Outlook: not too shabby. The 30-year-old is bust-a-gut hilarious in 22 Jump Street, in which she plays the foulmouthed villain in a sundress. ”I don’t usually get to play roles like this,” she says. ”I’m usually a weird, lonely woman. So it was fun to play this badass.” Anyone who’s watched Bell for four seasons on Comedy Central’s Workaholics knows her big-screen breakout is well deserved…and overdue.

The Groundlings member and former Saturday Night Live writer recently signed a deal to turn Idiotsitter, her Web series with writing partner Charlotte Newhouse, into a show for Comedy Central. She’s currently shooting Goosebumps (based on the R.L. Stine books) in Atlanta, and just sold a rom-com, Let’s Get Married, to MGM. Bell even got to act opposite Benicio Del Toro, an actor she so adores, her Twitter handle is @jilliandeltoro. The two share a scene in Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming crime dramedy, Inherent Vice. Turns out, though, she has an even bigger star crush. ”I love Amy Poehler,” Bell gushes. ”I worked with her briefly on SNL and I thought she was the loveliest and the funniest. I really look up to her.” So to recap, old dream: prima ballerina. New dream: fabulous tutu pas de deux with Leslie Knope.

…And at Her Workaholics Best
She doesn’t just steal scenes in 22 Jump Street. Fans of Comedy Central’s Workaholics know that Jillian Bell (as frumpy office drone Jillian Belk) is also responsible for some of the show’s most laugh-out-loud moments. We picked five of our favorites.

1. ”Teenage Mutant Ninja Roommates”
Season 2, Episode 7
At a community pool party, Jillian takes the opportunity to workshop characters for her improv class with a variety of props, including fake pubic hair. Modeling it to a group of 12-year-olds? Classic Jillian. Classic disgusting Jillian.
Best Line: ”Guess who I voted for in 2000? Bush!”

2. ”Man Up”
Season 2, Episode 9
Jillian comes to the rescue of co-worker Adam (Adam DeVine) by scaring off a karaoke-bar bully with a threat to his genitals. This, after her sex-themed rendition of ”She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.”
Best Line: ”That’s your ding-dong in two pieces! Oh, I want you to hit me so bad right now.”

3. ”Hungry Like A Wolf Dog”
Season 3, Episode 17
Things get wild when Jillian and Blake (Blake Anderson) get high and exchange smoke-filled kisses in the woods. They discuss their inner beasts (lioness and mastodon), then follow that with a deeply weird interspecies hookup.
Best Line: ”My parents were eaten by dogs — at least that’s what my foster parents told me.”

4. ”Snickers”
Season 4, Episode 3
There’s no better Jillian than Office Jillian, who dresses ”like the porn star from Nailin’ Paylin” when the guys make her run for break-room manager. Her awful campaign is only half as funny as the tyrannical snacktator she becomes after she wins.
Best Line: ”No one likes a gummy slut. Get out of here!”

5. ”Friendship Anniversary”
Season 4, Episode 13
Angry over losing money on a dog-show bet, Jillian proves to be an inhospitable host when she makes houseguest Blake sleep in the tub after he gets her fajita order wrong. She’s hilariously horrifying when she finally explodes.
Best Line: ”Welcome to Motel Jillian. We leave the shower on, lights off!” —Marc Snetiker

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