Paula Poundstone

by Abby Wendle


Paula Poundstone has been criss-crossing the country performing as a stand-up comic since she was in her late teens. As a result of traveling so frequently, Poundstone remembers little about the cities she visits. Take a listen as Poundstone turns her unique brand of amnesia into — what else? — a joke.


Paula Poundstone: I oftentimes drive by my house. And my kids will say to me, “You’re driving by the house.” And I’d say, “Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my car?” I have a really bad memory.

I’m Paula Poundstone and I’m a standup comic/writer/panelist on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me on NPR.

I started in Boston doing open mike nights in 1979 and then moved from there. Well, I didn’t move exactly. But, I took a Greyhound bus around the country to see what clubs were like in different cities and I went to Austin, Texas. I went to Denver, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Chicago. I think. Maybe Eugene, Oregon. Lots and lots of places. I probably have only come to Tulsa like maybe every several years. But, no, I don’t have any specific memories at all. My guess is when I get there I’ll go, “Oh yeah, I’ve been here before.”

I was one time at a club in Southern California somewhere. I took my daughter with me and we got so lost trying to find this place. It was just impossible to find. And finally, I get there and we go in and there’s a guy and he greets me. The guy who ran the place he greeted me in a very friendly way, he greeted me and my daughter says, “Mom, do you know that guy?” And I said, “No.” And she says, “Well, have you ever been here before?” And I said, “No.” And we get into the dressing room and there’s an 8×10 of me that I’ve signed saying how much I enjoyed the club, which indicated that I had been there before. And I said, “Oh, okay. Well, maybe I’ was here once.” I swear to you, I’m walking down the hall to use the ladies’ room, there’s another 8×10 with a different date on it saying how much I enjoyed the club. I was about to go onstage and there was yet a third. So my – I’m not real good at tracking where I’ve been.

My manager always says, well, you know, if I’m working some place she’ll say “Oh, that’s a red state. You might have a hard time there.” I don’t find that at all.

You know, the truth is what you really get a sense of when you go around the country a lot? It’s we’re more alike than we are different.