Endorphin Instigator

Looking for some excitement beyond eating, drinking and whatever other-ing you’re doing most weekends? Esteemed performer Paula Poundstone is coming to the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael April 22 to bring you an evening of comedy. We had the opportunity to chat with the HBO Comedy Special star about her Bay Area beginnings, her favorite games on Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me! and her ultimate stand-up goal.

MM: You spent a good part of the early ’80s doing open mics at the Other Cafe in San Francisco with a slew of other notable comics — what is your current involvement with that scene?

PP: The Other Cafe isn't there anymore, so my only involvement with it is longing. It was my favorite club. It was perfectly located on the corner of Carl and Cole, in the Haight. It had a giant window, behind a bamboo shade, which was the backdrop to the stage. I used to roll the shade up and talk to people as they walked by. It was so much fun. I don't know if it was a fluke, or if the owners, Bob Ayres, Chip Romer and Richard Snow, were geniuses, but between the acts they booked, and the audience members they attracted, there was really something special that went on in that room.

MM: It is well known that you are a big reader. Has your reading helped you be such a successful comic?

PP: How did that rumor get started? Gee, although I love to read, I am the slowest reader in the world. Now I'm reading Into the Silence, which is about the first European attempt at Everest and it has taken me longer to read it than it took them to find it and climb it. Before that, I read Into the Mist and Into the Wild. I'm in my "Into the …" period. But I do think it's helpful to have an active brain in order to create. I'm also hoping it staves off dementia.

MM: You always have an answer ready on Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me! What’s your favorite game to play?

PP: I love interrupting the interviews during the "Not My Job" game. They often have people I really can't resist talking to. I also love "The Lightning Round," because that's where I clinch my loss. I have a highly competitive nature.

MM: We know about your role on NPR, but in the past you’ve also done voice acting and have been involved in various television projects. What is it that keeps you coming back to stand-up? Does the audience interaction inspire you?

PP: In a room full of people who have come out to laugh for the night, that has to be the best place a person could be. I consider myself a proud member of the endorphin production industry.

MM: You’ve been recognized for bringing laughs without resorting to jabs at the audience. Why do you feel that this is important?

PP: I'm sure that I have, clumsily, at one time or another, said something that offended an audience member, but it is certainly not my goal. I really want everyone to be able to have a good time. I do the time-honored "Where are you from? What do you do for a living?" and I find, when you get people talking, they always have great stuff to work with. It is not an adversarial kind of exchange. It's just a conversation. But my true goal for any given night is for each audience member to fear incontinence at least once during my show.


When: Saturday, April 22 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Osher Marin JCC
200 N San Pedro Rd
San Rafael, CA  94903

Cost: $34.50 – $74.50