Esteemed stand-up comedian Paula Poundstone returns to the Bankhead Theater stage for a night of laughs and personal anecdotes next month.
Known for her sharp observational humor, Poundstone has been an active comedian since 1979. Currently, she is the host of comedy podcast "Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone" and appears regularly on the NPR comedy segment "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!"
When asked about what viewers can expect at her show in Livermore on June 10, Poundstone quipped assurance, "Well, there's no physical violence."
"My act is largely autobiographical," she told the Weekly in a recent interview. "I talk about raising a house full of kids and animals. I talk a little bit about politics here and there, although I am no expert."
Throughout her act, Poundstone often interacts with and calls on members of the audience -- she said she enjoys that aspect of the show the most.
"My favorite part of the night is just talking to the audience. I do a bit where I ask them what do you do for a living and in this way we get to hear little biographies of audience members," Poundstone said. "So I really don't know what I'm going to talk about the entire time because it's very much directed by who I talk to in the audience."
Poundstone explained that during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, comedians -- unlike musicians who could record themselves or do virtual concerts -- were largely left out.
"If you're a musician, and many musicians did this, they would record or tape themselves singing in their living room and could get by that way. As a comic, many of us were scrambling," Poundstone said. "Nobody knew if the theaters would ever open up again."
Now with many venues and events returning to in-person shows, Poundstone feels that it brings people together in a way that virtual events may lack in.
"Often when you watch a video or see a picture or whatever, you're just looking at it on your phone screen by yourself. You might acknowledge in your head that you think it's funny. You might even smile, but people rarely laugh out loud," she said. "But when you're in a group of people, it's infectious. Sometimes you laugh at stuff that you wouldn't have even laughed at if you weren't with the rest of the crowd."
Poundstone continued, emphasizing the unique experience of communal laughter.
"A whole crowd is experiencing the same thing at the same time. There's something about that collective experience that is so rich and so magnetized, so far beyond what it would be if you were by yourself," Poundstone said. "To be back with that again is just priceless. As an audience member, and certainly as a performer, it's just so great to experience that with strangers."
Poundstone discussed her personal comedic inspirations as a child, ranging from Lily Tomlin to the Three Stooges.
"I had carefully cut out a clip from a Time Magazine article about her, there was a cover story about Lily Tomlin when she was on Broadway with a one-woman show," Poundstone recalled. "I cut the little pictures out that were inside the article as well and put them up on my wall."
She went on to describe herself as a fan of "silly humor".
"I love the Three Stooges because they did silly, really funny things," Poundstone said. "Honestly I don't think I've ever laughed harder in my life than just seeing somebody with toilet paper stuck on the bottom of their shoe. I just love silly jokes."
Over the years Poundstone has hosted many solo television specials and has appeared as a commentator on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno".
Poundstone is set to headline at the Bankhead Theater in downtown Livermore on June 10. For tickets and more information about the show, visit livermorearts.org.