Wednesday, 23 January 2013 15:29

Paula Poundstone Readies Herself for Smooth Comedic Sailing

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Paula Poundstone
Kalamazoo State Theatre
Feb 8, 8 p.m.
$24.50-$35, (269) 345-6500

Paula Poundstone makes being funny seem effortless. Whether she's providing commentary as a panelist on NPR's new quiz show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!," performing stand-up or simply having a casual conversation, she nonchalantly drops jokes left and right like it's second nature.

Poundstone began her comedy career in 1979 performing at the Ding Ho Comedy Club, a venue that helped jumpstart the careers of Bobcat Goldthwait, Denis Leary and others. After a while Poundstone, wanted to branch out.

"I took a Greyhound bus around the country to see what other clubs were like and I ended up in San Francisco for a few years, before I came down here to stupid Southern California."

Poundstone has been performing comedy non-stop since then, often in her signature outfit of a suit and tie, an ensemble somewhat inspired by Lucille Ball and Diane Keaton in Woody Allen's Annie Hall.

"I can't believe men have complained about it all these years, because the truth is, it's just so easy," she said about her sexually ambiguous wardrobe.

Aside from stand-up, Poundstone worked on multiple projects, from writing her book, There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say, to guest spots on "Cybill," various TV comedy specials and spots on Letterman and Jay Leno. In 1999, Poundtsone provided the voice for the character Paula Small on the animated show "Home Movies," a job she says she took on because, "It's easy ... I'm really drawn to the easy stuff."

She also isn't opposed to trying her hand at feature films.

"Bridesmaids just was so damn funny, and I'm like 'Oh my god, do I wish I could be working on something like that,' and maybe I will be later. It will probably be in an older woman role by the time I get off and on to it."

Poundstone has also been known to talk politics, appearing as a political commentator on "The Tonight Show," though she readily admits she's no expert.

"I am not a political analyst or historian," she said. I really feel that I am a citizen sort of desperately hanging on, like most of us, trying to understand as much as I can in order to cast a halfway decent vote."

Currently, Poundstone can be heard on the weekly NPR news quiz "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!" as a panelist.
"It's a really great fit between me and them, because in so many job settings do people ask me not to say stuff, and in this job they go, 'Say whatever you want, just jump in, just whatever!' And that was the mandate from the very start."

On Feb. 8, fans will be able to hear Poundstone's side-splitting stand-up, about a third of which she tries to improvise to make it "A one-night-only kind-of a thing."

And audience members better be prepared to interact.

"My favorite part of the night is 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 kind of use that to set my sails."

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