Gay Fresno - Entertainment
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Paula Poundstone
Courtesy Paula's Publicist...The Tower Theatre of the Performing Arts in Fresno, CA is proud to present comedian Paula Poundstone in concert Friday, January 27th. It’s impossible to attend a Paula Poundstone performance without marveling at her ability to interact spontaneously with audience members in conversations bound to garner riotous laughter. Armed with nothing but a stool, a microphone and a can of Diet Pepsi, Paula’s ability to create humor on the spot has become the stuff of legend. Little wonder people leave Paula’s shows debating whether the random people she talked to were “plants” – which, of course they never are, and complaining that their cheeks hurt from laughter.
SEE PAULA POUNDSTONE IN FRESNO ON FRIDAY JANUARY 27TH
Showtime: 8:00PM Tickets: $32.50 - $35.50
Visit: www.towertheatrefresno.com or call: 559-485-9050
The Tower Theatre of the Performing Arts is located at 815 East Olive Ave. Fresno, CA 93728
Chris Jarvis: When I heard Paula Poundstone was coming to Fresno, I had one instinct...I want to talk to her. First, I want to help promote her show at the Tower Theater and second, I've been a fan for many, many years. She's always been one of my favorite comediennes. We arranged a phone interview and I gave her a call...You can find Paula Poundstone LINKS at the end of this article...
CHRIS JARVIS: Paula, how do you feel about playing conservative versus liberal cities?
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Doesn't matter at all. Because you know what, there is no such thing as a conservative or liberal city. Every area is peopled by some mixture. So I find that a lot of times when I'm in a place that people consider a "red state" I actually find that the audiences are fantastic. I think the groups that come out tend to just be the group with a more liberal persuasion.
CJ: How much of your show is scripted and how much do you just play off the audience?
PP: You know, on a good night, and I like to think there are some, I go to the audience and kind of ask where they're from, and read things through that, and then it has that pinball kind of effect.
CJ: I see you've been Tweeting about the Presidential Campaign.
PP: Oh it's hard not to. It's pretty funny. I don't know if every year has always been this funny, although I used to get a chuckle out of Lamar Alexander years ago. I've said it before and I'll say it again, watching the Republican field this time is like watching a front loading dryer. I don't think anybody could have predicted how many times this sort of shifting interest would happen.
CJ: Right. It's like a game show where they pick somebody new every week.
PP: Honestly! It really has been. Michelle Bachman was on the cover of Newsweek as if we all needed to know about Michelle Bachman because she was such a possibility.
CJ: The crazy picture.
PP: Yes, the crazy picture. I always sort of felt bad for the photographer because it's sort of hard not to get a crazy picture.
Click on Read More below for the rest of this interview...
CJ: So how old are your kids now and what are they putting you through?
PP: Man. Anyone else would have cracked like a ripe melon by now. They are 20, 17 and 13. Let the lies begin! I know I was the same. I knew it. I think back on the stuff that I did and said...my parents never had any idea what the hell I was doing. I'm actually probably better versed in the activities of my children than my parents were about me. And nobody's doing anything horrible, nobody's a gang member or anything like that, at all. All three of my kids are really good kids. But you know, you can't get a straight answer out of anybody.
CJ: Are they buried in social media?
PP: No, I don't let them do that. They're not even allowed to watch television. Even my daughter, you know she's good at doing computer stuff, like what she needs for school, but we'd be in a group of people and you know they just sort of assume, and they'd say something about her on Facebook and she'd say "My mother won't let me do that" as if I'm the witch, you know. Then, just recently, she's 17, she started saying to me, "you know what, I'm so glad I don't do that".
CJ: What about iPhones?
PP: They don't have any of that. One of them has a cell phone. But you know what, I don't like time wasting. I really don't. It's amazing to me. I can remember growing up having the days be so long, and now I feel like we're just running all the time. It's very rare to just hang out. Our family really functions like a big ship. We do a lot of things as a group.
CJ: I've seen that you're on Facebook and Twitter. I'm on Facebook as well. I really don't like it, but at a point you almost have to do it.
PP: I'm in the exact same boat. I will say that when I have a great idea I enjoy doing it, the part I don't like is when I have to do it whether I have a good idea or not.
CJ: Do you test your jokes on Twitter?
PP: No. Actually most of what I put on Twitter is the only place it goes. Sometimes it happens. There are jokes that have led a double life, but not a lot, really. Sometimes I Twitter several times a day but I couldn't possibly integrate that many jokes into my act that fast. I can't keep that much in my head, which is part of the reason that working unscripted works very well for me. I have the worst memory in the entire world and it's getting rapidly worse. Do you find that happening?
CJ: I do. And I need glasses now.
PP: The readers, I have them all over the house. And you know, you and I, we've still got a really long way to go, and they're going to come up with a lot more really annoying shit before it's over. So we are going to become curmudgeonly about something.
CJ: I'm already telling kids to get off my lawn.
PP: I've been practicing, "Go on you kids, get out of here" for a long time. And you know what else I just read about is brain shrinkage. Apparently as you get older you suffer from brain shrinkage, which, I assume is why you begin to forget things. And there's apparently evidence that Omega 3 retards brain shrinkage. Let me tell you, I had a huge slab of salmon for dinner last night, and I might start eating my cat treats.
CJ: Speaking of that, what's your animal count up to now?
PP: I have 16 cats. I just feel like such a slave some days, you know? I have callous on my hands from sifting litter boxes. But you know, they really are a constant source of entertainment. It's like watching a movie all the time. And now we have a puppy and a German Shepard mix grown dog. The interaction between them all really is fun to watch. You know, if I had some sort of indentured servant who cleaned up after them I'd certainly enjoy them a lot more.
**One of Paula's Cat Videos...
CJ: So cats versus dogs?
PP: I've had both, I'm not one or the other. The truth is cats are easier to take care of.
CJ: I wanted to ask you about your take on reality TV but maybe you don't even watch it.
PP: I don't. I don't watch any of that stuff.
CJ: Well what about "Dancing With The Stars", have they called you yet?
PP: They have not! Let me tell you, I really was sincerely pursuing that idea. Somebody had actually started a Facebook Page about it. I used to Twitter jokes about it all the time and there was this discussion about it. And I really was sincere about it. I thought it would be funny in the first place and a weight loss mechanism in the second. Plus I think I would be good, to be honest with you. Then I found out the list came out and they had selected Nancy Grace. There's a cutoff point for sinking. Forget about not hiring me, but hiring Nancy Grace, then you've gone too far. And they had previously chosen Tom Delay. Tom Delay was not as low as Nancy Grace. I don't know if they do like a college admission board where everyone submits their own thing, but I can't even imagine a conversation where Nancy Grace came up. Maybe they have one guy whose job it is to hire the unseemly.
CJ: Or maybe she promised ahead of time to have her nipple make an appearance.
PP: Honestly! I didn't see it, I only heard about it, and I still have a little queasy feeling.
CJ: Tell me about your show, "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me" on NPR.
PP: It's a radio news quiz show, and a comedy show. I've been lucky enough to be on it for something like ten years now. There are three panelists each week, probably 15 or 20 of us all together, and when we're on we vie for the mantle of most informed for that week. The questions are scripted but the panelists are unscripted and therefore it's a little bit like being a batter in a batting cage. You're kind of like lobbed topics and sometimes I watch them go by and sometimes I get a little piece of them.
CJ: I see in the list there are such people on the show as Paul Provenza, PJ O'Rourke, Mo Rocca...who do have a lot of fun with?
PP: Everyone on the show is really great. Adam Felber , who's currently a writer on Bill Maher's show, is a riot, and really fun to be on with.
CJ: Can I ask what your take on the Occupy Movement is?
PP: I'm grateful to them, really grateful to them. I don't know what will ever happen as a result, but the core issue of the inequity of our system is a legitimate issue. I don't know how to solve it, because I'm not an economist, and I don't know what the fix would be. But the fact of it is genuine and real. The truth is, they're arresting all of those protestors, but none of those bankers ever went to jail. There's something amiss in that. You know if you tell that story, years later, to our great, great grandchildren, or to an alien from a "just" planet, they'd go, wait a minute, that doesn't make any sense.
CJ: And they never arrest any of the Tea Party protestors.
PP: Right. And you know, one time I was working in D.C. and as we were coming into the city from the airport we went right past one of the demonstrations. It was during that time of the freak snowstorm throughout a lot of the east. So I decided when I got to my hotel room that I would walk back to talk to some of them. It was this cold, grey, awful day and I just wanted them to know that I, for one, being nobody, appreciated what they were doing. I'm very shy, but I talked to a couple of guys around the kitchen area there. I wasn't sure what to say or do, so I just sort of said, I want to tell you I think you're really courageous and tell you how much I appreciate what you're doing. Then I walked over and there were all these tents...now it was raining, and freezing outside and it was really uncomfortable.
CJ: And there were just rows and rows of tents.
PP: Right. They were all zipped up so I didn't know if they were huddled inside and had zipped up or if they'd gone to a coffee shop somewhere, I didn't know. But I would walk by rows of tents and I would go..."Occupiers! Don't get up! My name is Paula Poundstone and I just want to tell you how much I appreciate what you're doing and I think you're very courageous and thank you". For all I know, all those tents were empty.
CJ: But you said what you needed to say.
PP: Right, I said my peace and I left. It started to snow as I walked back and these tents were on cement, there was no grass. I don't know how they do it.
CJ: I agree. But the people of America have been pushed and pushed for years and finally had to stand up. This may be the start of something bigger, I don't know.
PP: I'm sure it will be. Matt Taibbi has written some great articles in Rolling Stone about the movement.
CJ: I love Matt, he's so blunt and honest.
PP: He had a more solid encounter with them than I. When he was there, there were people in the tents.
CJ: That helps.
PP: Yeah, it really does. What I should do at my show is have the audience come and set up tents and then never actually know if they're in there or not.
CJ: So your show, here in Fresno on Friday, January 27th at the Tower Theater, is a tie in with your support of Libraries, and specifically, this time, the Fresno County Public Library.
PP: "Friends of the Library" are local organizations when support, fundraise and bring attention to local libraries. It works differently at different concerts. They'll bring books of mine and I'll bring by book "There's Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say" and my performance CD "I Heart Jokes - Paula Tells Them In Maine", and I'll stay and sign those and we split the proceeds. So I'm not building a library from the ground up, but I speak on their behalf across the country. I used to think that libraries were all funded by taxes, but they are in fact funded some by taxes and these volunteer organizations raise money for them as well. I feel that despite all the technological changes, I feel that libraries are still really important parts of our communities.
CJ: Is it hard to reach people these days when all their information come over some form of technology and they probably haven't even stepped foot in a library in some time.
PP: You know, I go to the library here in Santa Monica as often as I can. Sometimes I just go in there to write because I like the ambiance, but it's pretty busy in there. Also, not everyone owns a computer and a lot of jobs now only accept online applications, so the library can help with that. Libraries are different in every community and I think they do morph themselves to the needs of those communities. And they have a lot of things now they didn't have when I was a kid. Lots of computers, lots of librarians who are versed in computers. Also great programs like Children's Story Hour, after school homework programs. One time, years ago, they were rebuilding the main branch and my kids and I were in a smaller library. We were upstairs looking at a book and at a table right near us there were two adult women, one teaching the other how to read. It gave me chills, my hair stood on end. This was a volunteer program at the library. We got back to the car and I was talking to my kids, and I said, you know sometimes you give money to a person on the street you can't help but wonder where the money will go. But any volunteer in this program can know that their efforts will have a positive effect for generations to come. It really is like putting a stone in the water and watching the ripple effect. I felt so moved by the courage of someone who needed help, who didn't know how to read as an adult and sought help.
CJ: You know, I'm with a nonprofit here who just about a year ago opened the first LGBT Community Center in about 20 years in this area, and my eyes were really opened by the number of people who either call or stop in at the Center looking for help, who may not have a computer or an iPhone to look up the resources they need. It really changed the way I look at things.
PP: Yeah, my son one time was trying to get an iPhone, which by the way I never gave him. Now we live in Santa Monica, which has people with really great wealth, but also has a huge homeless population so it hits both ends of the spectrum. And my son has the balls to say, "I'm the only kid in my school without an iPhone", which he feels is a compelling argument. He took it one step further, and this is my favorite, he said, "kids make fun of me, they say, there he is, there's the kid without the iPhone". I had to tell him that he doesn't know every kid in the school and that some of those kids probably live in shelters and they certainly don't have iPhones.
CJ: Listen Paula, I just want to say I'm a huge fan and I've been a fan for a very long time and I can't end this interview without asking you if you're still a Pop Tart fan.
PP: Oh I am!
CJ: What flavor would you make a Pop Tart if you could?
PP: I would not change the standard flavors. You know, a lot of companies don't know the good things that they have. They're always coming up with some heinous new flavors. I love the brown sugar and cinnamon and in a pinch I'll sometimes go with the strawberry frosted or even the blueberry. I'm not one who needs a fancy flavor. I can even do one unfrosted.
PP: Well, you know, if pushed. I eat cold the brown sugar and cinnamon. Half the time on the road it's my dinner. I will say the Pop Tarts were hurt by the Trans Fats ban. You know, they just don't taste quite right to me anymore. And one day it occurred to me, I bet you it's the absence of the trans fats. I don't want them to bring them back, I know they're bad for us, but at the same time, things really did taste better with them.
GET A LAUGH with Paula’s comedy CD “I Heart Jokes”
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Showtime: 8:00PM Tickets: $32.50 - $35.50
Visit: www.towertheatrefresno.com or call: 559-485-9050
The Tower Theatre of the Performing Arts: 815 East Olive Ave. Fresno, CA 93728