Paula Poundstone Comes to Mesa Arts Center

By Lynette Carrington

Paula Poundstone Comes to Mesa Arts Center

Paula Poundstone Invites You to Be Part of Her Unique Brand of Comedy

World-renowned Comedian Comes to Mesa Arts Center October 1

Comedian Paula Poundstone will be bringing the laughs to the Valley 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1. In true matter-of-fact Paula Poundstone fashion, she quips, “I'll be at the Mesa Arts Center – Ikeda Theatre. Without the letter "d" you'd have to assemble it.” Touché!

Photo of Paula Poundstone by Michael Schwartz

One of most wonderful traits of Poundstone’s comedy is that it all seems to be in-the-moment and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. This unscripted approach makes her a perfect fit as a regular panelist on NPR’s #1 show, the screwball weekly news quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” where she holds the record for game losses… which doesn’t seem to phase her. “The others cheat," she says magnanimously, "You wouldn't think NPR would put up with that." Among her other credits are "Forgetter Paula" in Disney/Pixar’s Academy Award winning animated feature film, “Inside Out,” and in July 2016, Poundstone appeared on the hit television drama, “Major Crimes,” and she has done several commentaries for “CBS Sunday Morning.”

“All I do is tell my jokes and leave,” laughs Poundstone about her busy touring schedule. Although she rarely gets a chance to do more than get on and off planes while she’s touring, she has taken time to visit one place in Arizona that she likes. “I take that back… I’ve taken my family to Flagstaff once or twice,” she says. “Generally speaking no matter where I am, I get there in time to unpack, eat and go to work.”

Poundstone’s brand of comedy doesn’t rely on picking on people or offending others. “I try not to offend people. My goal is for people to come out and have a good time, and that includes everybody in the room,” she explains. “Sometimes people think of it as more of an adversarial exchange and it really isn’t.”

“I love getting to know people and getting to know the members of my audience,” Poundstone continues, “I do the time honored, ‘Where are you from? What do you do for a living?’ This way, little biographies tend to emerge. I use that from which to set my sails. Obviously, I don’t know who’s going to be in the crowd. Therefore, I really don’t know what we’re going to talk about. I have 37 years worth of material rattling around somewhere in my head!” Poundstone masterfully crafts fun jokes and ridiculously honest observations that speak directly to the crowd in such a way they can totally relate. “It’s kind of like that little thing that jumbles up the bingo balls,” she quips. “It’s unstructured to begin with, but on any given night there’s about one-third that will never get said again.” Much of the comedy remains unique to the audience, creating a one-of-kind show every time.

The comedian keeps busy with about 90 shows per year. “One reason is that I really love my job,” Poundstone states. “It really is uplifting. No matter what drama we’re going through at home, no matter how exhausted, no matter what the state of the country and the world, to be in a roomful of people who come out to laugh for the night – It’s a wonderful escape. For that couple of hours, it’s just us, really. I feel like the darker the days nationally, sort of the more fun we have to some degree.”

Poundstone’s propensity for good-natured humor and fun was present, even as a child. “When I was a kid, we would go to the Ross’s house on a pretty regular basis to play,” Poundstone explains. “The Ross Family were our neighbors and every once in awhile our whole family would be invited over for dinner. The parents would sit at the table after a talk, and all the kids would go downstairs in the basement. We always had this feeling that if we were having too good a time, the parents would hear us and then the night would be over. They’d come down and say, ‘Ok, it’s time to go.’ We were always laughing uproariously, but part of the laughter came from trying to not laugh too loud!” Poundstone’s unique brand of comedy will allow you to unbridle your laughter on October 1 at Mesa Arts Center without the fear of the parents coming to take you home.

“There’s always been a ‘Ross’s basement’ feeling to me about my show,” she adds. “We’ve almost snuck off to have a good time. We’ve left behind the slings and arrows of reality to laugh for awhile. When we get back, nothing will have changed, but we’ll feel better! That’s part of the reason I do it. The other reason I do it is because I have enormous personal debt. And another reason I do it is to visit the TSA.”

Poundstone’s favorite role is being mom to three children, a clown car full of 14 cats and some dogs. But, in a serious moment, she reflects on the challenges of being a mom and the importance of keeping kids off of computers, phones and video games. She cites the irrefutable studies that show how so much use of computers and video games essentially causes the rewire of children’s behavior. “You have to read a book,” says Poundstone. “There’s more than one. But there’s one called ‘Glow Kids’ (by Nicholas Kardaras) that just came out. It’s chocked full of the science of examples of the problems, and there are many.” She’s seen the effects of being on computer screens within her own family, plus she notes the constant interruption, even within your own personal time, can be detrimental. She encourages people, especially parents, to research and better understand how “screen time” affects us all. So, put down your phones, video games and tablets and get out and enjoy a technology-free night of laughs with Paula Poundstone at Mesa Arts Center on October 1.

Because she just doesn’t have enough on her plate, Poundstone is also an author. Her second hardcover book, from Algonquin Books, will debut on May 9, 2017. In a related course, she is also an avid reader and staunch supporter of our nation's libraries. In 2006 the American Library Association invited her to become the national spokesperson for United for Libraries, a post she holds to this day. United for Libraries is a grass roots support group with members across the country that raise much needed funds for their local libraries.

In June 2016, Poundstone’s first double-live CD, "North by Northwest:Paula Poundstone Live!” (HighBridge) debuted at No. 1 on both Amazon’s “Hot New Releases – Non Fiction” and “Comedy CD” lists, and charted on Billboard’s Comedy Albums. The CD will be available at the show on October 1.

Mesa Arts Center is located at One E. Main St., Mesa. To purchase tickets for the Paula Poundstone show, visit or call the box office at (480) 644-6500. For more information about Paula Poundstone, or to purchase “North by Northwest:Paula Poundstone Live!” visit