Comedian Paula Poundstone comes to the Traverse City Opera House this November. We chat on what to expect at the Northern Michigan performance.
Comedian, game show panelist, author, reading advocate, carpooling mom … Paula Poundstone embraces each of her many life roles with gusto. Poundstone, who will be performing at the Traverse City Opera House Friday, Nov. 1, has been enthralling audiences for more than 30 years with her wry, topical humor. So, she’ll be funny when she performs here, right? “Oh, I hope so,” she said.
Poundstone frequently jets across the country, both for her role on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (more about that in a minute) and for her stand-up shows. But apart from that, she says her life is pretty normal. “I carpool to my sons’ school – I do a lot of the same stuff as everyone else,” she said. Although the other day when her assistant walked, in she was wearing a mini-skirt and high heels while smashing apples.
That was part of a skit for YouTube. “I’m always making some goofy little project,” she said. This one was as her alter ego Rhonda Puckett, for Cooking with Rhonda, a series of goofs on cooking. Nothing thrilled her more than doing a TV interview recently where the interviewer confessed she was a fan of Rhonda. Besides YouTube, Poundstone also is active on Twitter. “I like to make jokes and put them out there. It’s not usually stuff from my act,” she said.
Despite her affection for such outlets, she says she’s not sure that computers have actually helped her either in her career or in saving time. “It takes up time,” she said of creating and posting. “I’m not sure in the end if computers have really pushed us forward.” Though she doesn’t think she’s as backward as her son apparently thinks she is. “He’s 15, and (believes) I have some sort of problem with computers,” she said. The problem? He wants to use Google translator for his Spanish homework. “As opposed to the fact he’s not learning Spanish.”
In addition to her frequent stand-up shows, Poundstone is a frequent guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. She’s also a regular panelist on the National Public Radio program Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. She says the program, a comedic quiz show based on current events, is one of her favorite things to do. “You can say whatever you want,” she said. “That’s very, very rare in my business. There’s a script for Peter and Carl (host Peter Sagal and announcer Carl Kasell), but for the rest of us there’s not.”
Poundstone says she does prepare material for her stand-up routines, but there’s a healthy amount of improvisation there as well. She estimates about a third of her show is unplanned, but having done what she does so long she’s both comfortable with improvisation and able to jump back into something planned when she needs to. “I have a Rolodex of material in my head. I have enough material scattered around in my brain” to tide her over any bumps.
Poundstone has won numerous awards and achieved many milestones. She was the first woman to win the cable ACE for Best Standup Comedy Special and the first woman to perform standup at the prestigious White House Correspondents dinner. She has starred in comedy specials on HBO and BRAVO, won an Emmy Award, and served as "official correspondent" for The Tonight Show during the 1992 Presidential race.
Her book, There is Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say, boasts a forward by Mary Tyler Moore, and she has also contributed to Mother Jones, The Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, and Glamour magazines. An avid reader as well as a writer, Poundstone is the national spokesperson for United for Libraries, the American Library Association’s national network.
Poundstone performs at 8 p.m. For more information and tickets, go to CityOperaHouse.org.