Stand up comedian Paula Poundstone will be performing Feb. 21 at the Crest Theater in Sacramento at 7:30 p.m., with ticket prices starting at $27.50.
Poundstone, who, in addition to her stand up career, has contributed to NPR’s nationally syndicated weekly news quiz show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me and published a book entitled There is Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say in 2006.
Over a phone interview, MUSE delved into Poundstone’s unique comedic style of performance and her plans for the future.
MUSE: To start your career, you dropped out of high school and began traveling across the U.S. performing at various open mics along the way. What made you take that initial leap to drop everything and say this is it, this is what I’m going to do with my life?
P.P: I was bussing tables for a living and it just so happened that a couple of guys started booking comics to perform at open mic nights in various locations around Boston. So, I started performing around Boston’s comedy circuit, and then thanks to a burgeoning comedy scene in the late ’80s, I was eventually able to travel around the U.S. performing various nightclubs. It was just a matter of luck and knowing the right people that started my career, because, to tell you the truth, I really had know idea what I wanted to do when I dropped out of high school.
What do you find most rewarding about doing what you do?
There is a biochemical process that happens that produces endorphins for both the comedian and the audience. Just to be in a room full of laughter for the night is just delightful. People find it medicinal; it lifts people’s burdens — it lifts my own burdens. I’m able to talk about problems I’m having at home, or wherever, and I’m able to laugh about it with other people who identify, who seem to know what I’m talking about; it’s a great feeling.
You are known to interact with the crowd, adding a level of spontaneity to your live performances. How did you initially decide to do this and how much of it, do you think, adds to the uniqueness of your comedic style?
I find performing very much like having a conversation with a friend. I mean, knowing where to go or what to say might come from years and years of experience, but all in all it is very natural. I think this aspect adds a certain level of uniqueness to every performance, it makes it so no two shows are alike.
You are also a published author and have made countless contributions to nationally syndicated radio programs, among other things. Is there anything that you haven’t yet explored and are looking to try your hand at?
Yeah, I would like to write a screenplay, which is something that has always interested me. Also, I would like to do a collaborative project with other comedians. It gets very lonely after a while performing by yourself, so to interact and feed off your peers in a live performance is something, I think, that would be very interesting.
What are you looking forward to in 2014?
Finishing my book and being able to continue doing the things that I love doing.