Comedian Paula Poundstone to bring LOLs to Mesa Theater
WHAT: Comedian Paula Poundstone
WHERE: Mesa Theater & Lounge, 538 Main St.
WHEN: Sat., Aug. 10; doors 7 p.m., show 9
With a household full of animals and kids, comedian Paula Poundstone doesn’t so much write material, as take notes from her daily life, she said during a phone interview Monday with the Free Press.
“I pay attention to the world,” Poundstone, 53, said when asked how she constantly comes up with jokes and comments off the cuff. And, “a lot of it is biographical.”
Known for her “razor-sharp wit and spontaneity,” the comedian will perform in Grand Junction, Aug. 10, at the Mesa Theater & Lounge, 538 Main St.
Poundstone credits her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bump for recognizing and encouraging her funny side.
In a letter to her parents, the teacher wrote: “I’ve enjoyed Paula’s many humorous comments about our activities.”
“She encouraged me early on that it was good quality, and not class-disruptive,” Poundstone said.
More than skill or natural talent, Poundstone subscribes to writer Malcolm Gladwell’s (“Outliers”) philosophy that it takes “opportunity, attitude and hours of work,” as opposed to being born with an innate ability.
“I had a great opportunity when I was young,” she said.
After “petering out of high school,” Poundstone went to Orlando, Fla., (the “Promised Land” for people from Massachusetts, where she grew up). There, she landed a job at International House of Pancakes.
“I had hoped to be a bear in the Disneyland parade” Poundstone said.
She returned to Boston, where she bused tables and performed in local comedy clubs at age 19.
She soon found herself on a Greyhound bus to San Francisco, where she jumped at the opportunity to host an open mic session there.
“An emcee goes on in between the acts and moves the show along,” which can go on for a while. “Therefore, for me, I ran out of material. I had to work the crowd. That’s when I discovered the beauty of (improvisation).”
According to the Boston Globe, “Poundstone improvises with a crowd like a jazz musician…swinging in unexpected directions without a plan, without a net.”
Poundstone said she always wanted to be a comic actress, along the lines of Lily Tomlinson, Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore. Once her kids are grown, she hopes there will be a job like that just waiting for her, she said.
Poundstone has performed in several HBO specials and on “Saturday Night Live.” She’s performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” as well as “Late Night with David Letterman.”
Seven years ago, Poundstone was invited to be a regular panelist on the National Public Radio weekly news quiz program “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” a show taped weekly before a live Chicago audience or on location.
“They called me up and I had never heard of it,” Poundstone said. “They sent me a tape and my nanny said, ‘I love that show you have to do it!’”
Poundstone began fostering children in the 1990s, and went on to become a parent of three children.
In 2007, Poundstone performed a stand-up comedy special: “Paula Poundstone: Look What the Cat Dragged In.” The show was taped at the landmark Orpheum Theatre before a live audience in Los Angeles. She’s appeared on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” as well as a host of other shows.
She’s also a fan of libraries and performs at library conferences and other events.
On her website, Poundstone said, “It’s funny that we think of libraries as quiet, demure places where we are shushed by dusty, bun-balancing, bespectacled women. The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers, and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed. If you haven’t been to your library lately, you’re overdue.”
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