Wait Wait … It’s Paula Poundstone

Homelessness isn’t funny. But Paula Poundstone is.

So — to raise funds for their amazing work providing food, emergency shelter, permanent housing and supportive services for folks down on their luck — Homes With Hope‘s annual benefit features one of American’s funniest comedians.

Poundstone — an NPR regular on “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” and an heir to the Joan Rivers tradition — comes to the Westport Country Playhouse on Saturday, November 8 (8:30 p.m.). She headlined a similar event 4 years ago, one of Homes With Hope’s most successful benefits ever.

Poundstone vaguely remembers that one. “Westport is fancy. And it’s got a Stew Leonard’s, right?” she asked the other morning.

Paula Poundstone

Paula Poundstone

A Massachusetts native who now lives in California, Poundstone can be forgiven for her slightly fuzzy knowledge of our town. She’s on the road almost non-stop. For example, immediately after her Westport gig, she’s in New York City. Then it’s out to Gillette, Wyoming — and back the next night in New London, Connecticut.

What’s up with that?

“My travel is creative,” Poundstone says. “But this is such a fun job. I’m the luckiest person in the world to do what I do.”

So does she tell the same jokes in Connecticut as in Wyoming?

No — because no 2 shows are ever alike. She plays off the audience. Of course, she notes, “the people in the room each night are my fans, so there’s a little homogeneity to the place.”

But, Poundstone adds, “I do have Republican fans. We’re supposed to mix.”

As for the incongruity of a comedy show for a homeless benefit, she says, “One of the best things nature gives us is a brain that uses humor as a healing mechanism. Laughter is a great way to deal with things. This is a night for a great cause. People get the benefit of laughter, and an organization gets the benefit of their money.”

Since I had one of my favorite comedians on the phone — and am a big “Wait Wait” fan — I asked about the NPR show. She’s been on with an amazing variety of guests: a Supreme Court justice, Sen. Barack Obama, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Hanks.

Paula Poundstone on NPR

I wondered how long it takes to distill the hour that’s aired.

“Really long,” she admits. “I think there’s a computer program that cuts out my voice most of the time.”

Paula Poundstone may be one of America’s most popular comedians, but she’s also just a mother of 3. Her youngest is 16.

“Anyone who’s labored through being a parent of teenagers should definitely come” to the Homes With Hope benefit, she says.

“Comedy about my kids is a cathartic release. People hear about everything I go through and say, ‘you’re raising my kid.'”

She’ll really enjoy listening to what it’s like to raise a kid in Westport.

Wait wait — until November 8. And tell Paula Poundstone about it then.

(The Homes With Hope show begins at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. For ticket information, click on www.HomesWithHopect.org.)

Homes With Hope

 

 

 

Image

Which Of These Halloween Candy Wrappers Seems Different From The Rest?

Halloween candy

Halloween Update: Live From The Epicenter

An “06880” reader who wishes — for obvious reasons — to hide behind a mask of anonymity wrote at 4 p.m. today:

Greetings from Oak Street, the epicenter of trick or treating for Weston children* whose families cut through here to avoid the light on Main St. and Clinton.

I just put 475 candy bars into baskets. I ran out last year at 7 p.m. Now I am pondering not the ethics of this Weston tradition, but an etiquette question:  Would a sign saying something to the effect of “happy to be of use to you and your family again this year; now would you consider slowing down that Range Rover, and maybe stopping at either of the stop signs the next time you blast past my house?” be okay?

*Scientific fact:  My neighbor taught elementary school in Weston for 30 years. She said 75% of the kids she saw were from Weston.

"Hah! We live in Weston, where there's 2-acre zoning. Your houses are MUCH closer together!"

“Hah! We live in Weston, where there’s 2-acre zoning. Your houses are MUCH closer together!”

Halloween: It’s Not Just For Kids Any More

The scene in one of those neighborhoods where the houses are close together, parents drive their little princesses and Power Rangers in from all over town (and beyond), and the very accommodating homeowners provide not only candy, but (at least here) adult beverages:

Halloween 2014 - Betsy P Kahn

(Photo/Betsy P Kahn)

Trick or treat!

Arm In Arm For ALS

Last Sunday, Sherwood Island State Park hosted an ALS Walk. Among the thousands of participants, 70 formed a special team.

Dottie Kyle’s husband Bob is a 1964 graduate of Staples High School. She has ALS — Lou Gehrig’s Disease — and the “Go Dottie Go!” team came from around the country to support her.

David Knapp is a longtime friend of the Kyle family, who lives near them in North Carolina. On his way to Westport, he realized  he had forgotten to raise any money for the event.

He quickly emailed some close friends. He promised that if he could raise $1,000 within the next 24 hours, he’d wear a tutu at the Walk.

He did, and he did. Here he is, with Dottie:

David Knapp and Dottie Kyle

Dottie is no slouch either. Since August of last year, her ALS has progressed from her chest and throat muscles to her legs.

But she wanted to be involved with her support group, so on Sunday Bobby pushed her in a wheelchair.

Twenty feet from the finish line she raised herself out of her chair, grabbed the arms of her daughter Krissy and son Brian, and walked over the finish line.

Dottie Krissy and Brian Kyle

They don’t call it the ALS “Walk” for nothing.

 

 

A Ghoulish Scene At Compo

(Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

(Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Staples’ “A Chorus Line”: Book It!

In the midst of preparing for their fall musical — Hello, Dolly! —  Staples Players still bask in well-deserved applause from  A Chorus Line.

Their 2013 production will be included in A Chorus Line FAQ. The 400-page book is part of a new “everything you could possibly want to know” series on popular Broadway musicals.

Author Tom Rowan is including a chapter on notable productions around the nation over the past 30 years. What he calls the “remarkable” Staples Players staging is one of only 4 high school versions in the book.

Staples Players: one singular sensation. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Staples Players: one singular sensation. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Directors David Roth and Kerry Long figured that Rowan heard of Staples’ production from Terre Blair Hamlisch. The composer’s widow saw the show in Westport, was enthralled, and invited them to perform a selection at a major New York fundraiser honoring Hamlisch, with Bernadette Peters, Joel Grey and Robert Klein.

Nope.

Rowan said he spent a lot of time watching YouTube clips of various Chorus Line productions from around the world. He stumbled upon Staples, and was amazed by the quality — particularly the dancing. He could hardly believe it was a high school show.

(He loved learning about the Terre Hamlisch connection. That story will be in Rowan’s book too.)

A Chorus Line is one of many Staples Players productions uploaded to their YouTube channel. Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, Little Shop of Horrors — those and many more are just a mouse click away.

Of course, you should see Hello, Dolly! live, when it opens a couple of weeks from now.

Then relive the Staples Player magic — over and over — thanks to the miracle of YouTube.

(Staples Players is always looking for more archival material. If you’ve got some, contact director David Roth: droth@westport.k12.ct.us)

Here’s How To Vote!

Matt Murray’s tongue is planted firmly in cheek when he writes:

I have never been more proud of our local politicians and their minions than for re-setting the yard signs at the intersection of Cross Highway and Roseville Road after an accident knocked them — and the guard rail — down.

Campaign signs

Without those signs, I would never be able to decide who to vote for.

About Those Beach Boulders…

Alert “06880” readers have noticed earth movers and boulders on Compo Beach.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Don’t worry: Renovations — if they happen — are far in the future.

This is part of a long-planned shore stabilization and dredging project on the south side of the marina.

Note: Vehicle access to the west end of the beach will be restricted soon. Pedestrians can walk along the beach.

 

Goodbye, Cocoa Michelle. Hello, Bonjo!

Cocoa Michelle — the long-lived, very popular coffee-croissants-and-chocolates spot across from the train station — is closing today.

They’ve been bought out by their coffee roaster. On Monday, they reopen as Bonjo.

The current staff is staying. And Bonjo will feature an expanded selection of food.

For the rest of the week, there’s still Commuter Coffee. And — on the other side of the tracks — Steam.

(Hat tip to John Hartwell.)

The cozy interior of Cocoa Michelle.

The cozy interior of Cocoa Michelle.