Paula Poundstone. Photo by Michael Schwartz

Comic Paula Poundstone has been cracking people up with her hilariously clever observations and signature dry delivery since the ’80s. You’ll have three chances to see her this weekend when she’ll be on stage at Jonathan’s, Stone Mountain Arts Center and The Strand Theatre.

Poundstone has been a longtime panelist on National Public Radio’s quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,” has written two books, starred in three HBO comedy specials, has appeared on many late-night talk shows including “Late Night with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” About three years ago, she launched the podcast “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone” and has been involved with a few others.

During a conversation from her Santa Monica, California home, Poundstone said that podcasts aren’t profitable for most people, including her, but they’re still worthwhile, especially since she could continue to do them during the pandemic and that they helped connect people during the stay-at-home order.

“I think for a lot of people we were Tom Hanks’ volleyball,” said Poundstone, referring to the actor’s makeshift companion in the film “Castaway.”  She also said the podcast market is crowded and you can’t swing a dead cat without bumping into one. “The dead cat probably has a podcast.”

Poundstone’s true calling is performing live, and for 15 long months, she was unable to do that save for a pair of limited-capacity shows last year. Like many of us, Poundstone initially thought the pandemic would only last a few weeks, though she saw the panicked looks on people’s faces at the grocery store. When it became clear that no shows were going to happen for the foreseeable future, Poundstone started posting comedy videos on her website, including several hilarious exercise clips.

As part of her podcast, she also created short satirical press conferences of her impersonating former President Trump as if he were French. “It had no potential for income, it was just a creative outlet thing to do. I don’t even know how many listeners it ever had but I was glad to do it,” said Poundstone.

Poundstone said she managed to keep a stiff upper lip during the worst of lockdown but the uncertainty of when her primary source of income would return was jarring. “I’m in the lucky group here, I’m well aware of that. But not knowing, that was probably the hardest part.” She also pointed out that, although musicians also couldn’t tour, they were able to play streaming shows which don’t work for her. “You can’t do standup comedy from your kitchen or your living room,” she said, though she was asked several times to do just that.

Poundstone recently started doing live shows again and is glad to see audience members wearing masks. “I’m very lucky because my audience is terrific, and they’re not stupid,” she said. She realizes that some of them may be slower to return to her shows because they’re being cautious, but she totally supports that. “I think it’s morally wrong and not a great business model to kill your audience. I think that people will come out more and more when they can be assured as well as one can be that it’s safe as it can be.”

Poundstone will spend much of her Thanksgiving in an airplane on her way to Maine but she doesn’t mind. She recalled the times when her kids were still at home and their Thanksgiving tradition was to have Tweety Bird-shaped waffles made in a waffle iron that had Sylvester on the outside. “So it was kind of macabre,” she quipped.

Poundstone loves Maine and likes to go for walks when she’s here, especially to Perkins Cove in Ogunquit. She also said she tends to spend a lot of time in her hotel room time writing. But once she hits that stage, it’s all about doing what she does best: making people laugh.

Paula Poundstone
8 p.m. Friday. Jonathan’s, 92 Bourne Lane, Ogunquit, $47.50 to $88.50. jonathansogunquit.com
8 p.m. Saturday. Stone Mountain Arts Center, 695 Dugway Road, Brownfield, $70. stonemountainartscenter.com
7:30  p.m. Sunday. Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., Rockland, $45. rocklandstrand.com


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