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Poundstone keeps ’em laughing

For Paula Poundstone, performing as a stand-up comedian is all about freedom. Freedom from the segue, that is.

And it’s a freedom she wouldn’t have without Robin Williams, she says.

“I was one of the many comics who were lucky enough to come on the heels or coattails of Robin Williams,” Poundstone says in a recent phone interview. “He did away with the segue. Up to that point, everything you said had to be couched in some sort of story. He’s kind of the E.E. Cummings of stand-up comedy. It kind of opened things up to some of us that aren’t necessarily master storytellers but have funny jokes.”

You’ll get the opportunity to see and hear for yourself when Poundstone performs Thursday, Sept. 27 at Misericordia University. The show, at Walsh Auditorium, begins at 8 p.m.

Poundstone — who doesn’t watch much television and says she draws much of her material from politics and her everyday life as a mother — notes that the connection she feels with a crowd during a performance goes beyond the simple performer-audience relationship.

“Standup comedy is a magical thing, it’s healing,” Poundstone says. “It has to do with a certain shared experience.”

When it’s really working, Poundstone says, an audience will start laughing before it even hears the punch line.

“You’re laughing so hard, and you have no idea what you’re laughing at. It’s a rather pleasurable feeling, so wouldn’t anybody want to get in on it?”

Poundstone recently published the book “There is Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.” The format is unique, combining biographical nuggets from icons like Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc and Sitting Bull with her own memoirs.

“The format was really because I was honestly staring at a blank page for so long,” she says. “I do happen to have (obsessive compulsive disorder). Every single thing that gets said to me tends to remind me of something else. Then I feel the need to tell about it. But I felt kind of goofy just writing about myself.

“I hope Sitting Bull is more interesting than I am.”

Poundstone’s career reaches beyond the stage and the printed page. The comedienne can be heard regularly on National Public Radio’s weekly news quiz show, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” Recent TV appearances include spots on “Late Night With David Letterman” and “Late Late with Craig Ferguson.” She also recently appeared on Garrison Keillor’s NPR radio program, “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Poundstone, a Massachusetts native, was selected as the national spokesperson for Friends of Libraries U.S.A., an organization that works to provide advocacy and financial support for library programs and special projects.

“It’s something close to my heart,” Poundstone says.

She speaks excitedly about the newly furbished main location of the library system in Santa Monica, Calif., where she lives with her children.

“It’s a place where everybody goes,” Poundstone says. “Boy, has it kind of exploded what libraries do. We discovered this great wealth of books on tape, for one thing. It has me going back regularly.

Poundstone says — and she’s not sure why — that she’s been fortunate enough to have receptive, smart, interactive fans since she started her stand-up career nearly 30 years ago.

“I have really great audience members,” she says. “When I used to work clubs, there’d be an opener, a middle act and then me. Guys would kill to work with me because the audience I draw is so much fun to work with.”

Poundstone recalls a particular audience at a small club in San Francisco.

“The guy that was MC’ing was going across the street for a drink,” she says. “I was chastising him about it. I made the whole audience walk across the street with me.

“They will go figuratively wherever I take them.”



Who: Paula Poundstone

When: Thursday Sept. 27, 8 p.m.

Where: Walsh Auditorium,

Misericordia University, Dallas

Tickets: General admission. $25, college students $10,

Misericordia students $8.

Info: Box office 570.674.6719

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