Tag Archives: Paula Poundstone

Paula Poundstone Pounds The 1 Percent

Paula Poundstone owes me a new pair of boxers.

I peed myself laughing at her Saturday night show. The comedian — best known for her regular appearances on NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” — rocked a sellout crowd at the Westport Country Playhouse.

It was a benefit for Homes With Hope. Between ticket sales and a live auction, the event raised huge bucks — 12% of their annual budget — to help fight homelessness. As a brief video by 4th Row Films pointed out, it’s a problem even in this prosperous town.

Paula Poundstone

Paula Poundstone

Poundstone knew her audience. She picked a few random people. There was, incredibly, former Homes With Hope director Pete Powell (he’s an Episcopal priest — as an atheist, she had great fun with that), as well as a CPA, and a guy in budgeting for a film company (with, to Paula’s great delight, several assistants).

The theme throughout the night was Westport’s affluence. She joked about the difference between the pledges made at the Playhouse (2 people offered $20,000 each) and her kids’ PTA event (“we start at $1, and go down from there”).

She asked what the main industry in Westport is. “Money,” someone said. All night long, Poundstone returned to the idea of folks in the audience taking care of each other’s money.

It was all in good fun. This was a well-heeled crowd, but they were raising funds for their much-less-fortunate fellow citizens, who live here too.

Let no good deed go unpunished.

The theme of Paula Poundstone's jokes -- and some Facebook comments.

The theme of Paula Poundstone’s jokes — and some Facebook comments.

As a public figure, Poundstone updates her Facebook page often. Just before the show began, she posted: “I’m in Westport, Connecticut. I’m trying to reach out to the disenfranchised members of the 1%.”

Her fans responded. “You just keep taking care of the comical needs of those poor uptight old white folks Paula,” one wrote. “We appreciate it.”

“Good luck,” another said. “I hear that crowd is too lazy to work for a living.”

A woman in Westport on business huffed, “wouldn’t you know, the 1% grabbed all the tickets for themselves! Typically entitled, these folks are, I swear.”

“Talk to ’em straight, Paula,” a fan commented. “They need to hear from you what’s really going down outside their protected bubble.”

Over 700 people “liked” the post. Presumably, they liked her dig at the “1%.”

That’s fine. We loved Paula Poundstone. She loved Westport — and gave a great hour-long performance. And everyone loved raising oodles of money for Homes With Hope.

But she still owes me a new pair of boxers.



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




Wait, Wait…It’s Paula Poundstone!

The world, says Paula Poundstone, is just waking up from a giant party.  There are pizza crusts and broken bottles all around.  We had a good time last night, but this morning we all have to pitch in and clean up — however we can.

That’s an analogy, of course.  But she continues it by offering her own method:  comedy.

Paula Poundstone

Poundstone is a comedian with impeccable credentials:  regular panelist on NPR’s sassy news quiz show, “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me“; 1st woman to perform at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner; star of her own show on HBO and ABC.

She brings her act to Westport on Friday, Sept. 10 (9 p.m., Levitt Pavilion).  It’s Homes with Hope‘s 3rd annual benefit.

So what’s it like to be spectacularly funny at an event to ease homelessness?

“People come to be entertained,” she says.  “The fact that it’s for a good cause is icing on the cake.  If people didn’t want to see me or another comedian, they’d just send in a check.”

Her act combines stand-up with audience interaction.  “Don’t call it improv,” she warns.  “That’s too high-falutin’.  Say that it’s ‘unplanned.’  A lot of stuff unfolds from talking with the crowd.”

Poundstone lives in California, but she grew up in Massachusetts and looks forward to returning to New England.  She doesn’t know much about Westport, though she knows it’s near Stew Leonard’s.  “He’s got that petting zoo and milk thing, right?” she asks.

The first person tor recognize her comedic talents was her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bump.  “What a great name,” she marvels.  “If Charles Dickens knew anything about kindergarten, he’d have named a teacher Mrs. Bump.”

Told that a Mr. Bump — Fred — was a long-time science teacher in Westport, she wonders if he is part of “the famous Bump teaching dynasty.”

Comedy Central named Poundstone one of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time.  She’s honored, but pays homage to stars who paved the way for her.  “In my home, we very much value the Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, and Bob and Ray,” she says.

They’re all good — but none has Paula Poundstone’s 21st-century sensibility.  On Sept. 10, Westporters will enjoy her razor-sharp wit first hand.

And help a great cause, while laughing very, very hard.

(Tickets are $45 and $100.  Pre-show festivities — including cocktails, catering an an auction — are open to all sponsors and $100 ticket holders, beginning at 7 p.m.  For tickets and more information, click here or call 203-226-3426.