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Paula Poundstone is bringing her live, stand-up comedy show back to Reno

Comedian Paula Poundstone lays on her side across a black stool. Her head rest on her fist as she smiles for the camera against a white background.
Michael Schwartz
A promotional photo for Paula Poundstone.

Stand-up comedian Paula Poundstone is performing live at the Pioneer Center on June 10. KUNR’s Michele Ravera sat down with her to discuss her return to Reno for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Michele Ravera: How are you holding up?

Paula Poundstone: I'm out on the road again, which is fantastic! If I ever hear the word “zoom” again, I get PTSD from it. It's so great to be in front of an audience again, and I'm really looking forward to going to Reno!

Ravera: Has your approach to your observational humor changed during the pandemic? Or is it intact?

Poundstone: I think it's the same; I'm observing some different things. Part of what I talk about now is that period of time, what I learned. For me, it was a reflective time. I don't know about anybody else, but I worked my uncle bunnies off, and not making ends meet, but stemming the tide of loss. I remind people all the time, it ain't over. It bothers me when people refer to it as “when we were in the pandemic.”

Ravera: Like it’s over?

Poundstone: Yeah, exactly! It's over because everyone got bored of it. Like, as if it came to make our lives more interesting. My favorite part of the night is the same as it always was, which is just talking to the audience. I do the time-honored “Where are you from?” “What do you do for a living?” In this way, biographies of audience members emerge, and I use that for which to set my sails. No two shows are ever the same because I don't know how I'm going to talk to you, and even if I knew who I was going to talk to, I don’t know what they’re going to say.

Ravera: Did you have to focus on your website as well during the time?

Poundstone: Yeah, fans were very, very generous. They did stuff like bought stuff I'm sure they didn't particularly want or need in order to help, which was really kind. I have what has been termed Poundstone Pussy Pillows, which are little pillows stuffed with catnip. There's a cat choke on one side, and on the other side, I autograph it to people's cats. And then, I started a worm farm! I harvest worm waste, which is really good for gardens, and it's a very zen process. Really, I started because they eat food waste, and I used to volunteer at a food bank. I would take their food waste for them, so it didn't go in the garbage. Instead, it got used.

Ravera: Wow, that's incredible! Food banks are really struggling right now. They're struggling with donations, and more people than ever have needed food.

Poundstone: Yeah. We're in a pickle; there's no question. I feel like when the audience has come in there, we all seem to have a renewed appreciation for that experience, and there's something about it. Even in the wake of some of the really tragic things that are happening and have happened. There's something about those nights that feel like an oasis for those couple of hours. It just feels like a chance to renew. It's not like I take on every world issue in my show – give everybody a break for a few minutes.

Ravera: Not just a few minutes. Burdens were lifted for two hours, I think is a phrase you said to me when we last talked two or three years ago. Seeing you live, your interaction with the audience takes people out of whatever they were thinking about before they walked in the door and sat down. Even though we'll be masked and vaxxed at this performance, it's still really cool!

Poundstone: Part of the reason that I asked the audience to be masked and vaxxed is because I don't want to lose this again.

Learn more about Paula Poundstone and find tickets to upcoming shows at PaulaPoundstone.com

As a note of disclosure, Martin Media, the promoter of Poundstone's show, is an underwriter for KUNR Public Radio.

Michele Ravera joined KUNR in 2014 as a volunteer and was added to the part-time broadcast staff in October 2015. She is currently the station’s host for Morning Edition.
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