Comedienne Paula Poundstone performs at TPAC

Paula Poundstone performed at The Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s (TPAC’s) Polk Theatre on August 4, to a packed house.  A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales and Poundstone’s book will be donated to the Friends of Nashville Public Library.

Known for her honesty and an off-kilter view of the world, Paula Poundstone’s ability to create humor on the spot is legendary.  Whether she's talking about politics or being a single working mom with three kids, her quirky observations and spot-on timing have earned her the reputation of being one of the best comics working today. 

Poundstone is so quick and unassuming that audience members at her live shows often leave complaining that their cheeks hurt from laughter and debating whether the random people she talked to were planted in the audience.

An Emmy Award winner, Paula recently premiered her hilarious one-hour stand-up special on Bravo, Paula Poundstone: Look What the Cat Dragged In, and her new laugh-out-loud biography, There’s Nothing In This Book I Meant to Say, is also now available on bookshelves nationwide.

Voted the first woman to ever receive a cable ACE award for best stand-up comedy special, and an American Comedy Award for funniest comedienne, Paula can be heard regularly on NPR's popular weekly news and information show Wait, Wait…Don't Tell Me!

Despite a busy schedule, Paula is a single working mom and remains resolute about devoting the bulk of her time to being at home in Santa Monica with her three children ages 8, 12 and 15.

Recently, Paula took time out from her busy schedule as a full-time mom to talk with O&AN about her upcoming appearance in Nashville as well as the recent announcement that she has become the National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Library, USA and—of course—her children. 

O&AN:  Do you find it hard to be a full-time celebrity and a mother?

Poundstone:  *chuckles* I don’t know how full I would say my celebrity is but what I do is no different than the balancing act that any parent does.  My son told me recently that he thought if I got a job it would be better and I tried to explain that this was my job.  He just didn’t buy it. 

So I asked him what I could do for work that would make him feel better.  He said he wanted me to work at the school cafeteria.  Granted, it may be honorable work but I would have to deal with spills and hairnets and things so I just don’t think I could do it.

O&AN:  You seem to have a great rapport with your children…especially when they call you on stage, which seems to have become a permanent—and hilarious—fixture to your stand-up act.

Poundstone:  I let the kids call while I’m on stage so that it pretty much insures they have at least the illusion I’m available all of the time when I’m at work.  There was one time my daughter called while I was on stage and she wanted to watch a DVD that she had rented, but the babysitter felt it might be inappropriate for her. 

It was something like Lady in the Water or something like that and I didn’t know what it was, so I asked the audience what they thought and they told me it was terrible for kids.  So I told her right then that the audience said it was inappropriate for her to watch.  I felt really good about it because I had the audience there to back me up.

O&AN:  Your book is just as laugh-out-loud hilarious as your spoken comedy.  When did you decide you wanted to put together a book?

Poundstone:  It took nine long years to write my book.  It’s my hope to have another one in the next nine years.  It involved a lot of research and I’m also OCD so I had to write it all neatly by hand.  It was a real challenge for me as well because it’s not what I do for a living, so I didn’t have designated times to sit down and write and when school things would come up or anything else important like that it would be the first thing that would get bounced from my schedule.  I just don’t work well with deadlines I guess.

O&AN:  As someone who is such a dedicated mom, do you look forward to the day when they are all out if the house?

Poundstone:  I don’t look forward to doing the empty nest thing any time soon.  Not even a little bit.  My children may even be a little bit behind in terms of life skills because I don’t want them to go anywhere.  It’s not like Flowers in the Attic or anything, but I do have trouble letting my 16-year-old cross the street.  I may be a little behind on some of the important things but there will be plenty of time for street crossing later on.

O&AN:  Now that you have a book out as well as a new Bravo special what do you have planned next?

Poundstone: Currently my bearded dragon lizard “Daisy” has become my life coach.  Each day I look into the tank and see where she has posted an inspirational message for me and then we go from there.  What I think I should really do is start right now creating my sitcom based on my empty nest so that I have it sharp as a tack by the time the last kid is out the door.

O&AN: I understand you have recently announced a brand new venture in the world of literacy. Would you care to elaborate?
Poundstone:  I have just embarked on being the National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Library, USA. I’ll be doing PSA’s for them as well as events around the country when I do my shows.  It was my manager’s idea but it kind of got started because we are both very much library people. 

I’m excited to see the Nashville Public Library because you guys are touted as being one of the best in the nation and I think our new library back home in Santa Monica may have even borrowed some ideas from you guys.  Libraries are very important to communities around the country and can use all the assistance from the community they can get. As a parent and a new author I want our libraries to stay strong because it’s true that a city with a great library is a great city.

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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