Paula Poundstone to perform at Carbondale’s PAC3
November 19, 2011
CARBONDALE – Paula Poundstone has to be reminded what Black Friday is.
For those also needing a reminder, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, when holiday shoppers lose all sense of perspective in a mad dash to purchase must-have gift items.
“Oh, of course. Killing each other to buy the next Cabbage Patch doll or Tickle Me Elmo,” said Poundstone of the somewhat frenzied shopping experience. “Anything less shows clear callousness towards your child.”
Black Friday is a big shopping day, and it’s also the day that Poundstone is due onstage at the PAC3 Theatre at the Third Street Center in Carbondale.
Poundstone is fitting Carbondale into a packed schedule of stand-up performances. On Nov. 20, she’s in New Hampshire, then Carbondale on Nov. 25. On Nov. 26, she’s in Arizona, then back east in New York, Connecticut, Maine and Maryland, all in quick succession.
No matter where she goes, Poundstone said she seems to find people who share a common sense of what’s funny and absurd in the world.
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“My number one job is to entertain,” said Poundstone, speaking on the phone from her house in Santa Monica, Calif. “When people come to see me, we may not be in lock step, but there’s enough likemindedness for the audience to enjoy what I have to say.”
In between her road gigs, Poundstone is often a panelist on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” the National Public Radio weekly news quiz show that airs locally on KAJX on Saturday mornings. She’s appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, and “The Late Show” with David Letterman.
Her quick wit and hilarious social commentary has garnered her inclusion in Comedy Central’s list of 100 greatest stand-ups of all time, won her Emmy and ACE awards, and earned her appearances on HBO and ABC. She also has the distinction, in the early ’90s, of being the first woman to perform at the White House Correspondents Dinner and was recently inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame. Her book, “There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say,” has a forward by another comedic great, Mary Tyler Moore.
Even though Poundstone makes her living making people laugh, her own life hasn’t always been a barrel of monkeys. In 2001, the comedienne, very publicly, was arrested for a DUI while her children were with her in the car. The incident led to Poundstone temporarily losing custody of her kids. However, what resulted was ultimately positive: a stint in rehab, and an acknowledgment of a drinking problem that Poundstone has since addressed.
“I don’t ever want to do anything that would in any way endanger my children,” Poundstone told an NPR audience in 2006. “That was … the very idea of it, that I have done that, it haunts me on a daily basis. And therefore, you know, it’s not worth the risk ever, ever again. And, you know, it’s hard to speak to tomorrow, but from where I’m sitting today that’s not what I would like to do.”
Since that time, she has incorporated her struggles with alcoholism into her comedy routine.
“I was actually court-ordered to Alcoholics Anonymous on television,” Poundstone announced on a television special. “It pretty much blows the hell out of the second ‘A,’ don’t you think?”
Making a mistake is one thing, but having that mistake announced and scrutinized publicly is quite another.
“Finding humor is essential to getting through life,” Poundstone said matter-of-factly. “You have to see the absolute absurdity in what goes on. There’s a study that says that laughter increases pain tolerance by 10 percent. Whatever situation you’re in, it can help you get through it.”
Now 51, Poundstone is relishing the time with her three kids, who are now 20, 17 and 13.
“We were cleaning out a linen closet the other day, and looking at all the blankets the kids have used through the years,” she said. “I just wish we could stop and do it all again.”
In the meantime, besides watching her kids grow up, she’ll keep poking fun at life’s absurdities (“I know what the Kardashians could do with their money. … Bail out Greece! Do something useful!”). And, come Black Friday, she’ll be in Carbondale to make us laugh.
“I have best job in the world,” she said. “I’m so lucky.”