Horace Walpole, a historian and politician in the 18th century, once said the following: “The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Renowned for her quick wit and her off-the-fly banter, Paula Poundstone is most definitely one of those who think. Not only a standup comedian, she is also a single mom, a writer and a regular panelist on the NPR show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” where she is known for her snappy quips about current events and politics. This weekend, Poundstone will be bringing her unique brand of comedy to the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va.
In a recent interview with The Eagle, Poundstone talked about how, in the earlier days of standup, comedians would go into strip clubs to tell their jokes.
“I was never brave enough,” Poundstone confessed.
But if anyone has ever seen or listened to any of her performances, no one would never even guess that she had a lick of fear.
“They say that [public speaking] is the most common fear among people, which baffles me because you’d think a gun to the head would be up there somewhere,” Poundstone joked.
Although nerves can strike as they would with any performer, Poundstone seemed unfazed by other obstacles. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Poundstone asked. “They don’t laugh? So what?”
Some female comedians limit themselves based on their sex, but Poundstone has never been one to let gender issues stand in her way.
“I think it’s a pretty genderless profession,” Poundstone said. “In the end, they’re just jokes.”
Poundstone’s live shows promise to be entertaining, as she is known for going off course and sometimes taking audience members with her.
“I would have my five minutes prepared for open mic night, then invariably what would happen is I would get so nervous that I would either forget what I meant to say or else I would just see something more appealing in the moment and get distracted by something in the room,” Poundstone said.
Despite her success on the stage, Poundstone is not just a comedy queen. She is also the spokesperson for the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations. In addition to donating money from her shows and CD sales, Poundstone is a well-known advocate for libraries.
“It’s pretty much a no-brainer in terms of who to support,” Poundstone said.
She said that especially in today’s economic times, it is very important that people continue to support these resources and keep them open to others.