Wait, Wait, Do Tell: Comedy at Opera House

Paula Poundstone

Wait, Wait, Do Tell: Comedy at Opera House

Paula Poundstone

Paula Poundstone

Paula Poundstone of NPR’s news quiz show, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” to perform at historic Sheridan Opera House Sunday, August 4

Appearing on stage with a stool, a microphone, and a can of Diet Pepsi, Paula Poundstone is famous for her razor-sharp wit and spontaneity. Describing her talent, The Boston Globe wrote: “Poundstone improvises with a crowd like a Jazz musician…swinging in unexpected directions without a plan, without a net.” 

Paula is so quick and unassuming  audience members at her live shows often leave complaining their cheeks hurt from laughter and debating whether the random people she talked to were “plants.”

Paula Poundstone grew up in Sudbury, Massachusetts. By by the time she was 19, about 25 years ago, Paula boarded a Greyhound bus to travel across the country, stopping in at open mic nights at comedy clubs en route. She credits her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bump, with being the first one to spot her comedic talents. Bump wrote in a letter to Paula’s parents: “I have enjoyed many of Paula’s humorous comments about our activities.”

In 1979, Paula began nurturing her standup comedy talent as part of the Boston comedy scene, and then moved to San Francisco where she continued to flourish. By 1990, she had relocated to Los Angeles and starred in several comedy specials for HBO, as well as appearing on “Saturday Night Live” when friend and mentor Robin Williams hosted. Paula’s first one-hour HBO special, “Cats, Cops, and Stuff,” made her the first woman to ever receive the Cable ACE for best standup comedy special. She also starred in a self-titled talk show series for HBO (for which she won her second Cable ACE Award for Best Program Interviewer, beating out other, more recognized names in that field) and she was the first woman to perform standup at the prestigious White House Correspondents dinner, where she joined the current President as part of the evening’s entertainment.

Clearly Poundstone is one funny lady, but the thing that probably separates her from the pack of comics working today and has made her a legend among comics and audiences alike is her ability to be in the moment and tailor her act to the crowd in front of her.

“No two shows I do are the same. It’s not that I don’t repeat material. I do. My shows, when they’re good, and I like to think they often are, are like a cocktail party. 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.”

In 2010, Paula Poundstone was one of a select group voted into the Comedy Hall of Fame.

In March, 2013, Paula joined Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Rivers and several other prominent women in comedy for a feature-length documentary produced by Lions Gate for Showtime entitled, “Why We Laugh Too: Women of Comedy.” In April 2013, NPR Laughter Therapy (Highbridge Audio) released a 2-CD collection of NPR’s best interviews and stories with “funny folks” including Paula’s “Talk of the Nation” interview. And she is recognized as one of Comedy Central’s 100 greatest stand-ups of all time.

“Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” is now heard in 5 million homes across the country, internationally on NPR Worldwide and on the Internet via podcast. On the show Paula gets to match wits with some of the country’s leading pundits. In May 2013, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” filmed its first Cinecast from New York’s Town Hall and Paula was selected to be one of the Panelists.

For more about Paula Poundstone’s life, click here.

Showtime at the Opera House is 8 p.m. Ticket, $35 – $45 are available by phone, 970-728-6363 or visit here.

For a preview of Paula’s show, watch this video from her appearance on the Craig Ferguson show in May.

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