On Stage

Return Engagement

Back to the basics with Paula Poundstone


What: An Evening With Paula Poundstone

When: 8 pm Fri., Sep. 29

Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.

Cost: $39-$47

Info: 734-6080 or http://www.mountbakertheatre.com

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Many years ago, during an early morning telephone interview with Paula Poundstone, the standup star fell asleep on me, and I retaliated by subtitling my story something along the lines of “famous comedian gives local reporter the nod.”

We’ve both grown up a lot since then. In the intervening years, I’ve learned what to do when a celebrity snores during a prearranged verbal volley (hang up immediately and make plans to call back later instead of waiting on the line like a dolt for 20 minutes), and Poundstone has upped her comedy game in many ways (in addition to continuing to tour the country on the regular, she’s also become an author, a radio host, a spokesperson for the American Library Association, and a frequent panelist on NPR’s weekly news quiz show, Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me).

It should probably also be mentioned that I’ve interviewed Poundstone a couple more times since our initial imbroglio, and she was not only lucid and likable, but was also laugh-out-loud funny on topics that ranged from the personal to the political. A recent press release heralding her return to town was also snort-worthy.

“On Fri., Sept. 29, I’ll be in Bellingham, Washington at the Mount Baker Theatre as part of my ‘Mt. Butcher, Mt. Baker, Mt. Candlestick Maker’ tour,” she said of her upcoming performance, which comes on the heels of the release of her latest book release for The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness.

Last May, Poundstone, 57, talked about the publication on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. After telling a few stories—about being on The Tonight Show episode where Johnny Carson dressed like a member of ZZ Top and she confused him for one of the musicians (and lied to him about enjoying his performance), about being “just uninformed enough” to lose during Wait, Wait tapings, and also about how screen devices are bad for the brain (unless you’re watching her, of course)—she informed Colbert that her tome was a compilation of chapters based on scientific experiments doing something that she or other people thought would make her happy.

When someone offstage motioned that it was time to wrap up the interview, Poundstone observed that “I can take that guy; we don’t have to go,” and Colbert allowed her a couple more minutes to talk about the book.

In the second chapter, she explained, an organizer who came to help her clean out her closet said if she hadn’t worn something in over a year, then she should jettison it from her wardrobe. Shortly thereafter, Poundstone donned an old pilgrim costume to a taping of her NPR gig.

When she was asked by the host of the show why she was wearing it, Poundstone said the only thing that made sense at the time: “If I don’t wear it, I have to get rid of it.”

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