Paula Poundstone: Darwin’s Comic Mouthpiece

(an interview conducted with Paula Poundstone prior to a performance in New York)

“When I’m on stage I can’t have anybody in my line of sight that I know. It makes me very nervous.” I asked her why.

“It’s because I can’t take the opinion of someone I know,” she said. I asked about the mystery of what she does. Where does it come from? Share with me what the process is. “It’s a muscle really. Like any muscle, you have to work it to keep it in shape. You need to give it a workout. I do lots of shows and work at it. Some of these comics do great in small clubs and they all kill there. But the minute they get a comedy show or a series, they leave the clubs and work on their show for so long, the live performance muscle atrophies.”

She says the muscle is kept in shape with the chemistry and energy of the audience.

Where does your inspiration come from? “Charles Dickens used to take long walks. Not around the park, but miles and miles and he never stopped working. People work their own way and at the speed they are comfortable.”