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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Up endorphins at Paula Poundstone

    Michael Schwartz
    <> at The Ice House Comedy Club on July 12, 2012 in Pasadena, California.

    When she’s not acting a mother of three, wrangling one of her many cats or touring the nation on her latest stand-up tour, Paula Poundstone draws comedic inspiration from the day-to-day happenings of her life.

    “My style is largely biographical,” Poundstone said. “My favorite part of my routine is talking to the audience, and in this way, little biographies of audience members emerge, and I kind of use that info from which to set my sails. No two shows are the same, because a lot of what I talk about is often directed by who I’m speaking to in the crowd.”

    She attributes much of her comedic humor to such comedy greats as George Carlin, Gilda Radner and Richard Pryor.

    “My parents had 11 Bill Cosby albums, which I stole when I moved away from home,” she said. “‘Saturday Night Live’ started when I was in junior high, and I used to watch that a lot. There were many great comedians around. … Really, all I wanted to be was a hybrid of Carol Burnett, Mary-Tyler Moore and Gilda Radner … all of whom I missed by a country mile.”

    A high school dropout, Poundstone went on to become one of the greatest and most widely-recognized women humorists of the 20th and 21st centuries. She claims her role as a comedian, amateur and professional have both been long in the making.

    “For a long time, I knew I wanted to be a comedian, but didn’t always think I could be one,” Poundstone said. “The first sentence of the last paragraph of the summary letter written by [my] kindergarten teacher was, ‘I have enjoyed many humorous comments about our activities.’ It’s been a really long time I’ve enjoyed the comedy dynamic.”

    Officially kicking off her comedy career in May 1979 at the Boston open mic scene, Poundstone is now a veteran comic who has worked with such legends as Jay Leno and Rosie O’Donnell. She currently performs as a panelist on the NPR weekly news quiz show “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me…” and has her own countrywide comedy tour.

    “One of the great things about ‘Wait, Wait’ is being a part of a panel with a bunch of other people,” Poundstone said. “That’s what makes it really fun. Kindly, they call upon me to [do] what I like to do, which is improv. That’s what I really love about being on the show. It’s really fun to do.”

    Though she enjoys her time on the road, she always anticipates her return home.

    “I honestly have the greatest job in the world,” she said. “If I were Mrs. Weasley [from ‘Harry Potter’] and I could just disapparate, then this would be an unbelievably great job. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

    Poundstone’s comedic work draws inspiration from her everyday life, politics and viewers’ biographies.

    “Some people are so used to being right or assume they’re always right,” she said. “But honestly, I’m so used to being wrong most of the time that it has opened up a huge window of opportunities in my stand-up. I talk these days a lot about electronics addiction. … My son is suffering from it quite severely. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have a titch of it.”

    She encourages those unfamiliar with her style to check her out on Twitter and come see her shows.

    “I like to tell them: ‘Don’t spend all day on it,’ … but a few minutes checking me out won’t do you any harm,” she said.

    Bringing her new comedy routine to Tucson, Poundstone performs Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Tucson Theatre.

    “Paula Poundstone will be great in the intimacy of the Fox Theatre,” said Itzik Becher, UA Presents director of programming and development. “[UA Presents] likes to present our jazz concerts at the Fox, because jazz, like comedy, is best experienced in an intimate setting.”

    Appreciative for her role in the comedy business, Poundstone said she is lucky just to be able to make people laugh.

    “I get to be the catalyst of endorphins,” she said. “I get a boost from it as well, and it’s probably the most mentally healthy thing someone will do all year. I consider myself a proud member of the endorphin production industry.”


    Follow Elise McClain on Twitter.

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