Gifted with a knack for smart observational humor and a spontaneous wit, Paula Poundstone has been a top comedian since first making it big in the early ’80s.
Over the years, she has hosted her own talk show, appeared in several popular HBO specials, starred in ABC’s aptly titled, “The Paula Poundstone Show,” has served as a regular panelist on NPR’s No. 1 show, “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and was the first woman ever to perform at the White House Correspondents’ dinner.
Poundstone has also written two best-selling books, “The Total Unscientific Study of Human Happiness” and “There Is Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.”
With all of these accolades, it’s no wonder that Comedy Central named Poundstone one of the 100 Best Standup Comics of All Time.
The comedian is scheduled to play The Birchmere for two nights, Nov. 13 and 14, and she’s looking forward to getting out of the house, which is currently filled with her nine cats and two big dogs.
“I cannot wait,” Poundstone said. “I’m going to fly, mask up, and use my hand sanitizer. Even before the pandemic, I would travel with a blanket and put it over my head minutes after I sit down so people wouldn’t see my mouth hanging open when I slept.”
The live performances have been few and far between since March, as Poundstone mostly works theatres, and those for the most part have not opened back up yet.
“The Birchmere, for a number of years, has been the only place I stay for usually three nights and I love that because normally it’s pack, fly, pack, fly…,” she said. “When I’m there, I stay in Crystal City and I finally figured out how to walk to the Barnes & Noble.”
For her show, Poundstone expects to talk about the recent events of the election, life during the pandemic and other things the country is facing as we soon head into 2021.
“In 2016, I played the Birchmere the weekend after the vote and it was helpful because everyone was depressed,” she said. “People came up to me in the meet-and-greet line afterwards telling me how much they needed this.”
Her favorite part of the night at any show is talking to the audience and the time-honored tradition of “where are you from, what do you do for a living.”
“It’s kind of how I set my sails,” Poundstone said. “The conversation will go off in one direction or another based on something that is said, and I may just go off on something.”
Thankfully, the pandemic hasn’t kept her from continuing with her podcast, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone” which she does with fellow NPR personality, Adam Felber.
“I also started doing a mini-podcast, which is the ‘French Trump Weekly Press Conference,’ since I can’t do a good Trump impression, I do this with a bogus French accent,” she said. “It’s about a 10-minute podcast and I do it every week, writing questions for the press to ask.”
She also spent some of her stay-at-home time making comic videos with her daughter, she films a “goofy” gameshow that she hosts over Zoom, and has participated in a number of virtual fundraisers.
“I have pushed myself to do things as a performer that I haven’t done much of before,” Poundstone said. “I have a couple of characters that I used to make videos of, but I hadn’t done them in a long, long time. So, when this started, I did a character named Miss Nancy, a teacher from Massachusetts. I’m filming her on-line classes. That’s been really fun.”
Poundstone is happy to report that she’s also lost 17 pounds during the pandemic. She credits being away from the airport junk food and her once sedentary travelling with helping her go against the national trend.
“Mostly I feel like it’s enough already, I’m ready for it all to be over,” she said. “I’m looking forward to when we can all go back to some semblance of normalcy.”
Performing at the Birchmere will be a step closer for her.