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NUNN ON ONE Paula Poundstone reflects
by Jerry Nunn

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Paula Poundstone recently brought her stand-up to Illinois with multiple shows tickling audience's funny bones. Windy City Times spoke and joked with the comedian Nunn to One before she performed in Woodstock, Ill.

Windy City Times: Hey, Paula! How is the tour going?

Paula Poundstone: I don't have a tour like on the back of a sweatshirt or anything. It's sort of ongoing. It officially started 27 years ago. It goes on and on and on. But it's fun!

WCT: Did you ever think you would be doing Woodstock?

Paula Poundstone: I did Woodstock, N.Y., in the spring. Now I am doing Woodstock, Ill. So I am on the all Woodstock all the time tour.

WCT: What can fans expect from your show?

Paula Poundstone: I talk about raising a house full of kids and animals. I talk about trying to inform myself well enough to vote. Sort of hanging on to the news as best I can. My favorite part of the show is when I do "what do you do for a living?" with the audience and find out about the community where I am. It's sort of little interviews with people.

WCT: You are known for your improvisation with the crowd, right?

Paula Poundstone: It's how I know me!

WCT: I heard you joke about your arrest in your act, also.

Paula Poundstone: I don't joke about it as much anymore. Thank goodness it was several years ago now. I am happy to let it fade into the sunset.

WCT: How is your family these days?

Paula Poundstone: They're good. They are glad there is another month of summer left because the school year is a bit grueling.

WCT: They are approaching teen years?

Paula Poundstone: I have one daughter that is 18. I have a 15-year-old and an 11-year-old, also. We left elementary school behind last year. It was heartbreaking. We had been there for 14 years.

WCT: I am adopted, and I hate it when people say "your real mother." My real mother raised me from a baby.

Paula Poundstone: I hate that word: "real." Whether I am the adopted parent or not, I remain real. It's funny; I was watching The Bad Seed with my daughter the other night. I told her they had a different view of adoption back then. My daughter Alley said, "My friends think it's really cool that I am adopted."

WCT: Explain the whole "a sexual" description of yourself.

Paula Poundstone: It would mean that I don't have sex. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I have no sex drive whatsoever. I don't have to be a slave to this aspect of life. I would never want to committee my decisions about my children with someone. I can't even imagine saying, "Honey, what do you think?"

WCT: What comedians do you admire?

Paula Poundstone: My favorite are Bob and Ray, the old radio team, although Ray is dead now. They were so brilliant and so funny. I was lucky enough to live at a time when "Laugh-In" was on. There may be someone as good as Lily Tomlin, but nobody better. Also, [ I admire ] Robin Williams; many people would not be working at all in the comedy industry if not for him. He reignited an audience's interest in stand up comedy back in the '80s. He played everywhere and created the illusion that he might just show up in your town, most of the time, he did.

WCT: Would you ever want a celebrity roast honoring you like they did with Joan Rivers recently?

Paula Poundstone: No, I don't really like the format of roasting. I have roasted and been at roasts for other people. I only find it mildly funny. The last guy on the panel is just stuck because all the jokes have been done at that point.

WCT: Women in the comic industry have changed so much since you started out.

Paula Poundstone: Yes but my audiences are much the same. They are great in spirit and enthusiasm. I always sound like Jackie Gleason when I say that I have the best audiences.

WCT: You have always had a strong LGBT fan base.

Paula Poundstone: That's part of why they are so great. I do have a lot of gay and lesbian fans. They are terrific audience members.

WCT: Some fans of yours told me about the NPR show that you are on.

Paula Poundstone: It's called, "Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me!" on NPR. It's a weekly news quiz show. I am not on every week, unfortunately, I wish I were. All of the panelist rotate, there is about twelve of us. I am on like twice a month.

WCT: And you have a comedy CD called I Heart Jokes: Paula Tells Them in Maine.

Paula Poundstone: I happen to have been in Maine when the show was taped. It's not about Maine. I think it is funny, but that is not for me to say. Many people have bought the CD and told me that they have enjoyed it. The ones that bought the CD and hated it have not communicated with me.

WCT: And people can purchase the CD and follow what you are doing next at . My friend wanted me to tell you that she still says, "Pokin' at ya, pokin' at ya."

Paula Poundstone: Well, I am very flattered. People actually request for me to do that routine. But you know what? I can't remember it anymore. I have to find a videotape of the show where I did it. They are out in the garage somewhere.

WCT: Well, that's the spontaneity of working with a live audience. How are you supposed to remember all the Pop-Tart jokes? You are performing three different times to Illinois so every show will be different.

Paula Poundstone: My shows do vary from night to night. I love that. Lincoln would love that!

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