Paula Poundstone, a comic and regular panelist of “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” will bring her stand-up to the dairyland this weekend. Poundstone will start off at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater this Friday, then continue on to the Barrymore Theatre in Madison on Saturday.
Though she is performing at venues across the country, Poundstone insists that she’s not on the type of widespread tour billed “on the back of a sweatshirt” like many famous music artists. As a single mother, not to mention the owner of sixteen cats, she usually doesn’t perform on weeknights. As she says, “I go out on the weekends and tell my little jokes.”
Audience interaction and observational humor comprise the bulk of Poundstone’s material. She personally describes her work as largely autobiographical and typically segments her routine with stories, one rolling into the next. “I have to make a living, you know,” she jokes, “and I have no other skills.”
An increasingly rare style of comedy is also evident in Poundstone’s humor. Stand-up comedy is often politically incorrect, finding laughs at the expense of one or multiple persons. Poundstone has managed to keep her humor relatively clean throughout her career, in the vein of other PG comics like Bill Cosby.
Beyond standup, Poundstone is a regular panelist for the popular National Public Radio show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” Part game show and part comedy, the radio program is a popular choice for NPR listeners. Many of the games feature callers answering questions for prizes, like a personalized voicemail greeting from a panelist.
While she’s been a stand-up comic for many years, Poundstone’s name has recently become more familiar due to her NPR presence. Her type of humor slides well into the show’s style. She says it’s like being “a batter in a batting cage, being lobbed topics.”
And like most celebrities, she has a Twitter account. She asserts jokingly that she puts “a lot of heart and soul” into her tweets. Recently, she was dubbed one of the Best Unconventional People to Follow on Twitter, a title she’s quite fond of. To be sure, her feed is an assortment of backstage photos and odd observations along with self-promotions for upcoming shows.
Poundstone likens her Twitter account to a separate comedic routine. It becomes the receptacle for many of the one-liners that don’t fit together well enough for her standup routines. She also typically responds to her followers — even when they ask if she’s the voice of a bear shaman in Guild Wars 2, as one recently did.
An industry veteran, Poundstone doesn’t appear to be slowing down soon. In the future, however, she hopes to get into television. Having just one major acting role decades ago, Poundstone also briefly appeared in the animated series “Home Movies” as Paula Small, a character loosely based around Poundstone herself. She’s hoping there’s an old woman character role for her to fill in the future, and she assures that she’ll pursue those roles “doggedly.”
The move to television would help her to maximize the time she spends with her children and cats. Poundstone is not only the foster mother of multiple children, but in addition works with Alleycat Allies to finds homes for stray cats.
Poundstone jokes that she has calluses on her hands just from sifting so much kitty litter. In fact, on her website, there is a live 24-hour feed of her cats’ water and food bowls. When she feared her one obese cat, Matilda, might have some kind of thyroid condition, she consulted the footage. “Matilda is no stranger to the food bowl,” she now lectures knowingly.
Her children are not immune from being mentioned in her routine either. In fact, she says “A real punishment in my house is that if you screw up, I mention it on stage.”
Looking back, Poundstone claims “I’ve enjoyed the heck out of every job that I’ve done as far back as I can remember.” There are no signs that might change anytime soon. And unsurprisingly, she always seems to echo this sentiment. “It’s good for you,” she says, “to go out with people and laugh.”
Paula Poundstone will be performing at the Barrymore Theatre this Saturday at 7:30 P.M. More information is available at www.paulapoundstone.com.