Poundstone on the Line

DERBY LINE – Comic legend Paula Poundstone will grace the Haskell Opera House stage Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. She will hold another performance Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Bellows Falls Opera House.Poundstone, originally from Sudbury, MA, started performing stand-up comedy at open mic nights at the Charles Theater in Boston at the age of 19. “Some people would describe me as the class clown,” said Poundstone of her school years. “A lot of people would describe me as annoying.”Growing up, Poundstone enjoyed the response of laughter and had a fantasy of being a comedic performer, but was not particularly familiar with stand-up. Instead, she thought she would be someone like Carol Burnett or Lily Tomlin. Poundstone didn’t have any idea of where to become a comedic performer until she saw a flyer for a stand-up comedy night in Boston. Back then, she was busing tables at a restaurant with thoughts that someday she’d manage a restaurant, but now thinks it might have been a dissatisfying career path. “It’s not like I turned my back at a law career,” said Poundstone. Other comedians slightly older than Poundstone got their start by performing comic acts at strip clubs. “Lots and lots of people started that way. It was certainly not something I was going to do.”Poundstone feels lucky that somebody in Boston had the idea of starting an open mic night. Other smaller cities in the country started doing similar things. Prior to that, only larger cities like Los Angeles and New York offered such opportunities.After working in Boston clubs, Poundstone toured the country in a Greyhound bus. Her goal was to see what other stages were like. Poundstone ended up spending a couple of years in San Francisco.The Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello are a couple of Poundstone’s favorite acts. She recently watched "A Shot in the Dark," which is one of the original Pink Panther movies. Poundstone worships the first Richard Pryor film, "Richard Pryor Live."ÒEverywhere,” is where Poundstone gets her material. “I have a house full of kids and animals and I try to pay attention to the news well enough to be a halfway decent citizen. I don’t much write material, I just take notes.”Poundstone was not aware her Derby Line performance will be on a stage in Canada while her audience will be in the United States.“I love that idea,” said Poundstone. “That is great.”Poundstone loves talking with the audience and engaging people in conversation. She also enjoys being with the crowd and doing meet and greets. “I feel like that James Taylor song, 'That’s why I’m here,'” said Poundstone. “To come out and see a live show and sit with people beside you and share an evening of laughter is physically and mentally healthy for everyone in the room - including me.”