No Time Off For Paula Poundstone

Angie Ripple

Paula Poundstone returns to Bozeman’s Ellen Theatre Saturday, September 17, 2022. Her witty nature and ability to poke fun at just about anything has kept audiences engaged for decades. She says, “I tell myself my fans are smart, but you don’t really have to be smart—I don’t say anything too highfalutin.” Her target market is anyone who feels the need for laughter, and that’s just about everybody.

Paula made it through the existential dread of the Covid-19 shutdown (for her, it was a 15-month stay-at-home order) by creating content. It felt like every theatre she’d ever appeared at asked for a video imploring audiences: “Don’t forget about us,” and “we’ll get through this.” Charities that she’d had to turn down due to scheduling conflicts in the past were calling, asking her to be a part of their virtual events. She kept very busy and worked very hard to put out podcast content for Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone, and created a mini-podcast called The French Trump Presidential Press Conference, where she does an impression of Trump with “a really bad French accent,” answering questions from her friends posing as the press. She also continued to participate in NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me from home, and created almost daily videos to help her fans curb their anxiety. Their comments alone helped get her through, many of them saying, ‘your videos are what is helping me get out of bed each day.’

Her tendency to complain about traveling has subsided, as she now can’t wait for the next plane ride to the next show. Performing has always been joyful for Paula, who describes her shows as a product of a bad memory, comparing her mind on stage to a Cash Grab money booth, the money being 43 years of material flying around in her head. It’s all about what she’ll grab onto. She guesses that about one-third of what happens at a show is unique to that night’s performance. By engaging with the audience, little biographies of audience members emerge, and she uses that to set her sails.

Beware of sitting in the front few rows of any of her shows; Paula loves to engage with the audience, often asking the same questions; “Where you from, and what do you do for a living?” When I was fortunate enough to see Paula at the Ellen a few years back, she picked the perfect target, a Grizzly bear biologist who studied bear scat for a living. Only in Bozeman.

We all missed out on the collective experience of being with others to enjoy live entertainment during the pandemic, but you can get back to The Ellen [17 W Main St, Bozeman] this September to enjoy Paula Poundstone’s sure-to-be hilarious performance.

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