Paula Poundstone is one of our country’s preeminent comedians, known for her smart, observational humor and legendary spontaneous wit. She tours regularly performing over 85 shows a year. Karrissa T. Wade was able to catch up with her for a little fireside chat about her tours, career, and thoughts of the Trump presidency.
Paula Poundstone: Hi. This is Paula Poundstone calling.
Karrissa T. Wade: Hi Paula. Thank you for calling.
Paula Poundstone: Sure. Sure.
Karrissa T. Wade: Well I wanted to start with a description of your tours.
Paula Poundstone: Well, I don't have a tour like on a back of a sweatshirt, like a rock and roll band, like a sucking in the '70's kind of a tour. I was going on the road. I go out every weekend for two or three nights.
Karrissa T. Wade: What can we expect to see on the stage in one of your shows?
Paula Poundstone: Well,...me [laughter]. Not a lot of adornments beyond that. I talk about raising a house full of kids and animals. I talk about trying to pay attention to the news well enough to cast a halfway decent vote. My favorite part of the night is just plain talking to the audience. I do the time-honored, "Where are you from? What do you do for a living?" And in this way, little biographies of audience members emerge and I use that from which to set my sails. And I've been doing it for 37 years, and it seems to work pretty well.
Karrissa T. Wade: Right. Now you mentioned Trump. What do you think of this whole thing?
Paula Poundstone: I think most of it's been frightening. I personally feel the burn. But I don't consider myself a political analyst or expert. There's lots of issues that I'm pretty-- there's big holes in my body of knowledge on them. And the thing that I know for sure is that we need to care about one another and take care of one another and that really the success of one very much depends on the success of someone who looks nothing like them. And that I'm sure about. And just based on that idea alone it sort of sweeps some candidates out of the running in my mind anyway. But Lord knows there's been a lot to make fun of.
And I'm sure there was in Germany in the '30s as well. But sometimes I think we need to go a little bit beyond that. In the beginning, I used to says I thought Trump was the Danny Kaye of politics, but I apologize for that now. I take it back because I find him less and less funny as time goes on. And more importantly, I find disturbing the idea that people follow him.
Karrissa T. Wade: He does seem to have a cult type following for sure.
Paula Poundstone: Yeah. Yeah. I mean people keep talking about the anger and he's touched on something and blah, blah, blah. What he's touched on is that the truth is, and I tell this to my kids all the time not on this topic actually, but that you don't act on every thought that goes through your head. You just don't.
Karrissa T. Wade: If we did we'd all be in trouble.
Paula Poundstone: If you did we'd all have jumped off a tall building already because don't you-- when you go up on a tall building don't you always have a voice in your head that says what would it be like if I jumped?
Karrissa T. Wade: Exactly. Exactly.
Paula Poundstone: Or if you're looking over a bridge. And the truth is your more rational mind takes over and goes, "Okay. Well, that would be a bad idea." But there is that moment where you think, "Hey. What would this be like?" On almost every topic you have some sort of crazy idea for a moment, and then your more rational mind-- we have a lizard brain and a human brain [laughter]. Sometimes you have to push past your lizard brain. So yeah. You just don't act on every thought that you have. And you don't say every thought that you have. And that doesn't mean that you're not honest or you're not authentic. That means that you're using your brain.
Karrissa T. Wade: Right. Exactly. Now you mentioned the children. I know you fostered a lot of wonderful kids. How many do you have now?
Paula Poundstone: Oh, I have three kids that I eventually adopted. And they are getting old. I have a 25-year-old, a 21-year-old, and a 17-year-old. And yes. I was a foster parent for many years. But I was lucky enough to get to adopt those three, and so I did.
Karrissa T. Wade: Well, congratulations.
Paula Poundstone: Yeah. Yeah. Worked out pretty good.
Karrissa T. Wade: So what do you think is on the horizon for your career? Anything new?
Paula Poundstone: Well, I have a book that I'd been struggling to write for seven years. Writing is a horrible job. One day I tweeted. I said, "I'm taking a break from writing just to tweet for a second." I said, "The reason I'm writing is because banging your head on your wall chips the peat." It's a very hard job. But there. I managed. And a book that I hope is funny and relevant comes out I can't remember it's either January or the spring of 2017. And I will be--
Karrissa T. Wade: You mentioned tweeting. Do you tweet your own material? Or do you have someone else do it for you usually?
Paula Poundstone: Oh, heavens. No. No. No. I do it. I do it. I think of things that I think are funny. I got a stupid smartphone just for the purposes of tweeting. I think of things that I think are funny, and I tweet them. And it's fun. [crosstalk]--
Karrissa T. Wade: Do you think social media has changed being a comedian for most people
Paula Poundstone: Well, I think the area that's really changed is the area of self-promotion. Which by the way is my least favorite part of the whole beast of being a stand up comic. But it's a big part of it because if there's no one there to hear you tell your little jokes then there's really no point in doing it. So on Twitter, I mostly write jokes but I'm also forced to say here and there, "Hey. I'm going to be at the blah blah blah on the blah blah blah day." And that is a big part of my business.
Karrissa T. Wade: Now if there was one thing we needed to know about you that I haven't covered what would it be?
Paula Poundstone: That you need to know that you haven't covered. I don't know. Yeah. I really don't know. I do close to two hours on stage. I usually do a meet and greet afterwards. Not always but often where anybody who wants to can come up and say hello. And we sell CDs at that time as well. But I always tell people they certainly don't have to buy anything. And many people don't and that's great with me. They come up, they say hi. I sign an autograph or take a picture or give them a hug or just talk for a second. And yeah. And so far no one's gotten hurt so that's good.
Karrissa T. Wade: Well, I know I'll be the first one in line for that. I look forward to meeting you. Thank you so much for giving us a call today. We appreciate it.
Paula Poundstone: Sure. Nice talking with you. Take care.
Karrissa T. Wade: Thank you so much, Paula. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye
Karrissa T. Wade is a wickedly funny, highly involved community activist for LGBTQI issues. She has been a regular contributor for print and digital media nationwide, and we are proud to have her here at Stars and Celebs.
A title holding pageant figure, she is known for her witty, over the top comedic performances and extensive charity work across the US. A consumate performer, she is an active television figure, (appearing as guest, anchor and lead roles) Karrissa has also been involved in the Cabaret community for the past 25 years, touring the country.
As a charity fundraiser, she has helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and has been involved in HIV awareness and outreach since the early 90s.
"We have two hands: One for helping ourselves, and the other for helping others. Do your part."