December 18, 2009 | by Tyrone Ford
Review: Poundstone’s tour stops in Maryland

Paula Poundstone’s latest tour included a double performance Dec. 12, at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, Md. Her career has spanned several decades boasting awards including the American Comedy Award for Best Female Stand-Up Comic in 1989 and a CableAce Award for her HBO special “Cats, Cops and Stuff” in 1990. Poundstone worked as a political correspondent for “The Tonight Show” during the 1992 presidential campaign and in 1996 served as a political correspondent for “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.” Most recently, she has appeared on National Public Radio as a panelist on the radio news quiz show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”

She performed before a sold out audience at the Rams Head Tavern and received a warm welcome when she took the stage. The odd part was there was no announcement that her set was going to begin, she simply took the stage, mic in hand, and dove right in. In true Poundstone style she was dressed in a suit and tie combination, which, for those that remember her earlier performances, has become a trademark ensemble.

Many performers like to incorporate remarks about the city where they’re performing into their act to connect with the audience, but not Paula. Poundstone asked an audience member closest to the stage, “Do you live here? Wherever we are,” which seemed to endear her to the audience even more. Attending a Paula Poundstone performance will leave you impressed at her ability to interact spontaneously with audience members creating conversations bound to garner riotous laughter. Armed with nothing but a stool, a microphone and a can of Diet Pepsi, Paula’s ability to find humor on the spot has become the stuff of legend.

Poundstone was born in Huntsville, Ala., and her family moved to Sudbury, Mass., when she was young but now she calls California home. When discussing her current state of residence, she said it’s “Embarrassing to live in a state that had Prop 8,” which was met with applause from the audience. Her performance was fairly divided: the first half had more of a political slant while the last half was more related to family life. Poundstone has adopted several children, so her comedy will oftentimes reveal her personal struggles with raising kids in today’s society.

Poundstone labels herself as asexual, doesn’t date, and she has never been romantically linked with anyone of any gender. “I don’t have sex because I don’t like it,” she once joked. “I’d have to marry a Mormon so someone could cover my shift.” This was not a subject she greatly expounded upon; she merely stated that she is “not much of a sexual creature.”

Poundstone also considers herself an atheist, which brought one member of the audience to his feet with applause. Her description of not seeing atheists traveling door to door NOT preaching the word and not trying to give away “The Good Book with blank pages” was met with thunderous applause from the audience. It was this unassuming, matter-of-fact humor that kept the audience thoroughly entertained for the entire set.

With a house full of children and cats, 13 felines to be exact, it’s no wonder that it took Poundstone nine years to write her book. She mentioned that she wrote “There Is Nothing in this Book That I Meant to Say” entirely by hand due to the fact she has only recently purchased a computer. Writing is a topic Poundstone obviously has strong feelings about. She refers to children who don’t try their hand at writing as “iPod kids” because those are the ones who essentially sit in class with their iPods on rather than paying attention and learning. This was the point in the show where you could see the mother coming out as she described several situations of her involvement with her children’s education and the importance of being involved in the process.

Paula Poundstone is obviously smart, her fidgety style with locked-jaw delivery proved to be more than a pleasant surprise live. She is relaxed and charming — her jokes seem more like offhand remarks than forced quips. Combined with the spontaneously amusing give-and-take with the audience you could not have asked for a more enjoyable evening.

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