Paula Poundstone is one of those people who you’d much rather have as a friend than a foe.
When wit, knowledge and impeccable timing meet, as they do in Poundstone’s case, the usual result is a roomful of laughter unless you’re on the wrong end of that rapier. Good thing for KSUT listeners she’s on their side.
“I fear for this country like everyone, and when I’m on the road and flip on the TV and look at what passes as news, I shudder. Thank goodness NPR doesn’t do that,” Poundstone said from her Los Angeles-area home.
She’ll give a one-night performance Saturday in support of KSUT, the local NPR affiliate.
Poundstone is a regular on NPR’s popular current events show “Wait, Wait ... Don’t Tell Me,” and public radio is one of her favorite causes. On the show, she and her fellow panelists must sort fact from fiction among many bizarre news stories each week and do so in front of a live audience. It’s a skill that has allowed Poundstone to hone her stage routine, which she began in the ’80s during the heyday of stand-up comedy. But now, instead of rattling off jokes against a brick wall in a smoky club, Poundstone carries on an easy back and forth with her audiences in places such as the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.
But there still are lots of jokes – they just don’t sound like jokes. Like when she talks about her three kids, 16 cats and two dogs, all of whom will be awaiting her return after a short visit to Durango.
“I’m like a really unprofitable farmer. I get up early in the morning and do a lot of work and get nothing for it. It’s great,” she said.
For the show, Poundstone said she gauges the crowd and aligns her act accordingly. That means keeping up on the latest news but also knowing how to deliver the punchlines. Her routine is hardly filthy, but there will be some grown-up language, and parents should keep that in mind. She adheres to the FCC on air, but has no such restrictions on stage.
“I’m fascinated that people are so upset about the f-word. Don’t we waterboard, don’t we have real problems?” she said.
“We’ve got our nine greatest judicial minds working on (an expletive) problem. If I may quote Mitt, if I had a business and one of my guys said ‘let’s work on that,’ I’d fire him.”
KSUT Development Director Bruce Campbell said Poundstone will donate a portion of her merchandise sales from Saturday’s show, and she’s performing at a discounted rate so the radio station can make money from ticket sales. She’ll also appear at a preconcert reception at the Rochester Hotel, but tickets for that are sold out. And as of press time, only a handful of tickets remained for the main event.
“It’s just a great reason to get out and support public radio – it needs it more than ever,” Campbell said.