Comedian Paula Poundstone points out life’s absurdities of which, she will be the first to say, there is an endless supply. Her observational humor has fueled a comedy career that has spanned decades and shows no sign of slowing down. Back at the Key West Theater for a second time on Friday, December 7, Poundstone comes armed with her witticisms about people, kids, animals and yes, politics. After 38 years, she is a comedy veteran and has the wit and stories to prove it.
“I’m about audience participation, so I am never really sure what going to come out. I leave about one third up in the air,” said Poundstone making sure no two are alike. Part of Poundstone’s charm is her ability to act and react from the vibe of the room. And nowadays, Poundstone admits, the comedy trend is either to political or shies away from it. “I don’t want things to be fractious, but it seems fairly obvious what side of politics I am on. I have wrestled with trying not to tell people I’m a Democrat, but they know it. It would be pretty hard not to.” When it comes to using it in her act, she said, “My generation of comics did not invent politics in comedy. It’s always been there. As a tool I feel it’s kind of overrated, kind of second-grade humor sometimes.”
Instead Poundstone relies on her observational humor for the true laughs, “I feel stronger about pointing out hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles being labeled in larger font than other things.” The comedian most recently is known for her gig as panelist on NPR’s number one show, “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” (She had just left the NPR studio after recording messages for peoples’ answering machine pretending to be them.) She also has a weekly podcast for Maximum Fun, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone.” Her second memoir, “The Totally Unscientific Study Of The Search For Human Happiness,” was published by Algonquin Books in 2017, debuting at number one on Amazon, and it was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor and the 2018 Audio Book of the year (read by Poundstone herself). It was a follow-up to her mega bestsellar, “There Is Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say” published by Crown in 2006.
Poundtstone gives thanks to the great Robin Williams for the initial boost in her career back in the 80s. Her resume now includes multiple HBO specials, a spot on every late night show from 1979 to present, two bestselling books, and multiple awards including the American Comedy Award for Best Female Standup Comic. But accolades aside, Poundstone is just like anyone, an audience to her own life.
“I try not to watch MSNBC. It can cause bowel problems,” said Pounstone. “It’s proven, because all the ads are geared towards bowel problems.” Fair point. And as for the state of our culture, she admitted, “I love it when Republicans come to my show, we all need to hug one. As people, we have to realize we have far more in common than not and laughter is our coping mechanism.” And like any great comedian, Poundstone just wants to make people laugh.
The Key West Theater
Friday, Dec. 7