Paula Poundstone is one witty broad but she hasn't just made a livelihood based solely on stand-up. She's an author, a regular panelist on NPR's weekly news quiz show, “Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me,” and her best role of all, she's a mom to three kids and a slew of animals. Frankly speaking, the latter probably gives her more material than any other job she has ever had. There is a reason she has staying power and a very simple reason that she was inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame, Paula Poundstone takes humor to a whole other level. She delivers smart and sharp observations that everyone who's had the pleasure of seeing her will agree, has resulted in laugh out loud funny.
This Saturday (December 22nd) give yourself (and some pals) an early holiday gift by catching Paula in action at the Ernest Borgnine Theatre in Long Beach for a night out filled with this comedy mastermind. Warning: you better also make sure to bring your a-game because Paula has been known to riff off the crowd. Before she heads out to Long Beach for one night only, we got a chance to have a serious (yet not so serious) talk with her about the semi-zoo she keeps at home, her thoughts on word policing, and of course, her video's that should be going viral any minute now.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I know you have three kids but as of today, what is your animal count?
Paula Poundstone: It's horrible. I have sixteen cats, two German Shepard mix dogs, a bearded dragon, and one ant left in my ant farm.
Wow. On an average day, how much of your time do you spend tending to the animal farm?
Oh I'm like a really unprofitable farmer. I do probably a solid hour in the morning, not to mention the “in and out door game” which takes countless minutes. That's always fun. Various cleaning up of retched substances all day long…it really can't be added up unless I had someone with me clocking my time. I will say there is no one better or faster at it but boy is it a chore! I was out of my head. Never again.
You're kind of like an animal hoarder!
Yeah I kind of am. That's the honest truth. I probably am. There is a silver lining here you know. People give me a lot of cat toys. I have a huge gift basket filled with toys right now that even includes one of those water bowls that fills itself up. I might even use it myself. You know people who take care of a lot of animals need to stay hydrated.
OK last animal question. I saw your cat webcam and I was wondering if any of them have become divas because of all of the publicity they're getting.
Well there is definitely a hierarchy at the bowl as a result at the camera. I can remember though that my cat Haskell, who is long since gone, was in the Purina cat calendar. There was no living with her afterwards.
So funny. Regarding “Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me” on NPR. How do you prep for the show?
Well clearly my approach is not the right one because I hold the record for losses. I get some papers and try to read them and listen to the news in order to be a halfway decent citizen. My knowledge of events outside of my home is directly proportional to the drama that is going on inside my house. And this is the house of drama, trust me. I do try to read some newspapers but not the week before. It's more like I read them before the show and cram. Clearly my method is not the best.
Do you know your track record regarding what percentage you've had right and wrong?
No but I'm sure someone somewhere knows the stats considering it's NPR. A couple years back we were having this ten year anniversary celebration of the show. We all came together and the producers started reading some stats that were very flattering and all pretty uplifting. Then they said, “OK, the amount of times someone got zero right.” I'm looking around my table thinking, what poor bastard? Of course it turned out it was me and not only that, but it only happed about two weeks prior. I had no memory of that. So if that question had been in my lightening round, I would have got it wrong! [Laughs.]
Would you like to do more work in radio?
I love this job. I don't know if I'd love just any job in radio but I do love this one. It really just presented itself to me when they called me up to ask if I'd do it and I said, I'll try! The rest is a question for my lightening round. It's a really well put together show by some really smart people. It didn't take any creativity on my part. I get my ideas from the "big book of bad” that's why! I always say if the others didn't cheat, it'd be the perfect situation.
I saw you Twittered about congress banning the word "lunatic.” What do you think of all of these word bans? Not sure if you heard but "gypsy” is now a racist term.
I didn't hear that! Oh my god what is Cher going to do? If Cher's story has any basis and truth, the song went, "We'd hear it from the people of the town. They'd call us gypsies, tramps, and thieves.” So apparently it was never meant in a positive way. These bans are not going to fly. There's a ban on "fuck” and what word gets said more. I say it all of the time and it doesn't bother me one way or the other. On the other hand, the word "panties” makes me uncomfortable.
Classic. I know you are big on trying to get one of your videos to go viral. How's that going for you?
Oh my god. [Laughs.] I think that my computer must be stuck because I keep seeing the same number. I just know from people coming up to me on the street saying, “Your zucchini film was unbelievable,” that they've gone viral. They've secretly gone viral which is very unusual.
I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. Will you be lying down at any point during your gig this Saturday at the Ernest Borgnine Theatre?
I'm hoping! I occasionally do bust a foot puppet show that's a very popular feature in my show. I talk about raising a house full of kids and animals, I talk about keeping up with the news well enough to cast a decent vote, and well, I talk about Abraham Lincoln sometimes and the Hardy Boys occasionally. My favorite part is talking to the audience so little biographies of the audience emerge and I can use that in which to set my sails. It all works out pretty well!
Follow Paula on Twitter @PaulaPounstone for a daily dose of wit and check out her website www.PaulaPoundstone.com for upcoming tour dates and to see what her cats are up to. Get your tickets at www.BrownPaperTickets.com to see Paula at the Ernest Borgnine Theatre this Saturday (December 22nd) for one night only. The Ernest Borgnine Theatre is located at 855 Elm Ave. in Long Beach.