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.
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.
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.)