Michele Ravera: How are you?
Paula Poundstone: I’m on the road again, which is fantastic! If I ever hear the word “zoom” again, I get PTSD. It’s so great to be in front of an audience again, and I can’t wait to go to Reno!
Ravera: Has your approach to your observational humor changed during the pandemic? Or is it intact?
Poundstone: I think it’s the same thing; I observe different things. Part of what I’m talking about now is that time period, what I learned. For me, it was a period of reflection. I don’t know anyone else, but I worked with my uncle rabbits, and not to make ends meet, but to stem the tide of losses. I remind people all the time that it’s not over. It bothers me when people call it “when we were in the pandemic”.
Ravera: Like it’s over?
Poundstone: Yeah, exactly! It’s over because everyone got tired of it. Like, like it just made our lives more interesting. My favorite part of the evening is the same as it always was, which is speaking to the public. I do the classic “Where are you from?” “What do you do for a living?” In this way, biographies of audience members emerge, and I use that to set my sails for. No two shows are ever the same because I don’t know how I’m going to talk to you, and even though I knew who I was going to talk to, I don’t know what they’re going to say.
Ravera: Did you also have to focus on your website at that time?
Poundstone: Yeah, the fans were very, very generous. They did stuff like bought stuff that I’m sure they didn’t particularly want or need to help out, which was really nice. I have what is called Poundstone Pussy Pillows, which are small pillows stuffed with catnip. There’s a cat choke on one side, and on the other side I dedicate it to people’s cats. And then I started a worm farm! I harvest worm waste, which is really good for gardens, and it’s a very zen process. Really, I started because they ate food scraps, and I used to volunteer at a food bank. I took their food scraps for them, so they wouldn’t go in the trash. Instead it was used.
Ravera: Wow, that’s amazing! Food banks are really in trouble right now. They are struggling with donations and more people than ever have needed food.
Poundstone: Yeah. We are in trouble; there is no question. I feel like when the audience walked in, we all seemed to have a renewed appreciation for that experience, and there’s something about that. Even in the aftermath of some of the really tragic things that are happening and have happened. There is something about those nights that feels like an oasis for those few hours. It’s just like a chance to renew yourself. It’s not like I’m addressing every global issue on my show – give everyone a break for a few minutes.
Ravera: Not just a few minutes. The burdens were lifted for two hours, I think it’s a phrase you said to me during our last conversation two or three years ago. Seeing you live, your interaction with the audience takes people out of whatever they were thinking before they walked through the door and sat down. Even if we will be masked and vaxxed at this performance, it’s still really cool!
Poundstone: Part of the reason I asked the public to be masked and vaxxed is that I don’t want to lose that again.
Learn more about Paula Poundstone and find tickets to upcoming shows at PaulaPoundstone.com.
As a disclosure note, Martin Media, the promoter of Poundstone’s show, is an underwriter for public radio KUNR.