Paula Poundstone, funny since forever, comes to town

Poundstone is known for her smart, observational humor and legendary spontaneous wit.

Comedy legend Paula Poundstone — still at the top of her game after 40 years in the business — has added a second show to follow her now sold-out Feb. 9 performance at Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA).

Tickets to the additional show, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at VCA, are now on sale at

Poundstone is known for her smart, observational humor and legendary spontaneous wit. She is the star of several HBO specials, including “Cats, Cops and Stuff,” and “Paula Poundstone Goes to Harvard.” She is also a regular panelist on NPR’s comedy news quiz, “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” and is heard weekly on her comedy podcast, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone.”

Smashing the glass ceiling in her field, Poundstone was the first female comic to perform standup at the White House Correspondents Dinner — 73 years after the event began. Her awards and accolades make for a long list, and she is included in innumerable documentaries and literary compendiums noting influential comedians of our time.

Poundstone’s funnybone has been firmly in place since her early childhood, she said in a phone interview in January.

Asked when she first realized she was funny, Poundstone said that her kindergarten report card, written in 1965, began with a note from her teacher, who said, “I have enjoyed many of Paula’s humorous comments about our activities.”

“I think I was very affected by that — the fact that an adult liked something I did was exciting,” she said. “You know, I liked saying things that I thought were funny from the time I was very little.”

Humor, Poundstone said, is a gift that nature gave to humans.

“I’m not sure that other species even have it,” she said. “It’s a coping mechanism. And, you know, it helps with absolutely everything — fear, sadness, and boredom. I mean, I like finding things funny even if I’m by myself. But the other thing is — I like the reaction of laughter from the people. It’s a great thing and being able to make a living at it is gravy.”

Poundstone described the dynamic of her give-and-take with comedy audiences as a collective act of creation, in and of itself.

“Whatever we find funny — and I’m not using the royal we, I mean me and the audience — just kind of builds and it sometimes feels a little bit magical,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I just said the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing, but how those were the next things to say didn’t have anything to do with me.”

During the COVID shutdown, she said, she yearned for the experience of being a part of live performances.

“I think it’s part of what makes us feel human,” she said. “And when we didn’t have that for a period of time, I missed it — obviously as a performer, but I missed it as an audience member too.”

Remembering the early days of the pandemic, Poundstone also revealed that she had applied to work in a couple of grocery stores during that time, not knowing how long it would be before people would be able to gather in large groups again — or imagine another way she could earn income.

“I started [performing comedy] when I was 19 and I don’t know how to do anything else,” she said. “The reason I applied to grocery stores was that people still had to go to them — and everyone looked so sad in the grocery store. You mostly just saw their eyes — or their nose, if they didn’t know how to wear the mask. And I thought, well, at least if I was there, I could [say] ‘How’re you doing? It’s going to get better!’”

Amazingly, no grocery store hired Poundstone during that time — and even more amazingly, she’ll soon be on Vashon, doing what she’s always done so well: standing in a spotlight, for two nights in a row, and making folks laugh and feel better.

Get tickets to her Feb. 10 show at