The comedian Paula Poundstone, who performs at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie on Saturday, June 14, first started hitting it big more than a quarter-century ago – but has really worked her way into people’s minds and the way that we think about current affairs since becoming a regular on NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me. She is known as a fast-thinking and quick-tongued self-deprecator with a means of cutting to the core about the insanities of our everyday and political worlds.
“My shows, when they’re good – and I like to think they often are – are like a cocktail party,” she says of her laid-back style of improvisation. “When you first get there, you talk about how badly you got lost and how hard it was to find parking. Then you tell a story about your kids or what you just saw on the news. You meet some new people and ask them about themselves. Then, someone says, ‘Tell that story you used to tell,’ and then someone on the other side of the room spills a drink, and you mock them. No one ever applauds me when I leave a party, though. I think they high-five.”
Poundstone is known for her observational humor: She’s quick and tart with comments about what’s happening, or conversations and actions started by others. She has long been a favorite late-night guest, is a frequent guest star on television sitcoms, one of the initiators of the “backstage report” style of reportage from showbiz events (including big party nominating conventions) and is in there on all the big lists of top stand-up talents.
Not only does she gets folks laughing about what’s harsh and strange about modern life and politics, but she’s also honest about how her own life is at times detoured, and just what it takes to use humor simply to get on with the art of living. She’s one of the greats – and should have fun with the very idea of Poughkeepsie, and maybe even the Bardavon’s legacy, if anyone lets on about that fabled singer who tends to rehearse there with regularity. Wait, wait…don’t tell her.
Paula Poundstone, Saturday, June 14, 8 p.m., $40, Bardavon 1869 Opera House, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie; (845) 473-2072; (845) 339-6088), www.bardavon.org.