September 30, 2022
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A motivated Paula Poundstone returns to Clayton on Saturday | Arts and Entertainment

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CLAYTON — Comedian Paula Poundstone returns the north country on Saturday, where she performed in 2013 and 2019 and when such things were taken for granted.

A pandemic and a shutdown of entertainment venues has a way of creating renewed appreciation for things like an opera house full of laughter.

“We need a collective response to things,” Ms. Poundstone said in a phone interview from her home in Santa Monica, Calif. “It’s part of being a human being. It’s different than when you see stuff alone. The human brain just works that way. Sometime, when you hear stuff or see stuff with a group, you see and hear stuff you wouldn’t have even noticed by yourself.”

Ms. Poundstone also performed at the Clayton Opera House in 2019, a tour that also brought a stop at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. In 2013, she performed at the Dulles State Office Building.

“It’s so nice to be back on stage and to have an audience in front of me again,” Ms. Poundstone said.

But there’s another motivating factor.

“Making a living does not hurt. It’s pretty compelling,” she said.

Ms. Poundstone has a full tour schedule through the end of the year. The comedian is known for her smart, observational humor and a spontaneous wit. Time magazine, in its March 2020 “Best of” issue, listed Ms. Poundstone’s HBO special, “Cats, Cops and Stuff” as one of the five funniest stand-up specials ever.

In 2018, she created the popular podcast, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone” and she is a regular panelist on NPR’s comedy news quiz, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”, heard locally at 10 a.m. Saturdays on North Country Public Radio.

Ms. Poundstone kept busy during the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and which kept her grounded at home for 15 months, beginning in the spring of 2019.

“I started off by making comedy videos,” she said. “You could feel everybody’s fear at the grocery store, on social networking and stuff like that. So at first, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll make videos to help people get through.’ I did that for a little while and then it dawned on me that this was going to go on for quite a while and I had no formal income! Boy, that would wake you up!”

Fortunately, she said that her podcast, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone,” was established. “So, we transitioned to that obviously like everybody else who was podcasting, to recording from home.”

Ms. Poundstone also created an additional mini podcast, for which she wrote its scripts: “French Trump Weekly Press Conference.”

“Although it wasn’t anything that would bring an income, creatively I was doing stuff that I’d never done before,” she said. “i can’t do a good Trump impression, so I do it with a bombastic, bogus French accent.”

Her friends played members of the press. “It was fun to do and something out of my wheelhouse,” Ms. Poundstone said.

Ms. Poundstone has described her podcast as a “comedy field guide to life.” During the shutdown, she created a podcast segment, “Outside the Actor’s Studio!” where she pretends to be an actress auditioning for roles. She treasures the one she did with actor Fred Willard, who died in 2020. In the segment, Mr. Willard plays a veterinarian, and Ms. Poundstone is a customer with a pug and a problem.

“I wrote this part for him, very much with his voice in mind and he did it just as I hoped he would do it,” she said. “He was always very understated, and the characters that Fred would do oftentimes was someone who didn’t seem to understand what was being told to him, but didn’t seem to pick up on other peoples’ emotions in a scene, which is really funny.”

During the shutdown, Ms. Poundstone also created a “truly goofy” game show, “Nobody Asked You,” had a volunteer job, watched over a “house full of cats and dogs” and continued regular appearances on “Wait Wait …Don’t Tell Me!”

With the return of her live shows, Ms. Poundstone said the favorite part of her gigs is talking to audiences.

“I do the time-honored, ‘Where are you from, what do you do for a living?’ In this way, little bios of audience members emerge, and I kind of use that from which to set my sails,” she said.

“Because of that element, no shows are ever the same. The mixture is stirred by the audience.”

The Details

WHAT: Comedian Paula Poundstone at the Clayton Opera House, 403 Riverside Drive.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

COST: Tickets are $30, $35 and $40 depending on seating.

TICKETS: Go to Claytonoperahouse.com or call its box office at 315-686-2200.

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