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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Illustrated Comediennes of the Stand-Up Boom: Paula Poundstone

In the rush of the 80s-90s stand-up boom, newly-emerging pay-cable began augmenting their normally scheduled soft-core pornography and repeated showing of horror movie Cat's Eye with stand-up showcases. Dyna Moe watched every one of them and presents a week-long tribute of the comediennes of era.

Maybe better known today than in the '90s thanks to the Prairie-Home-Public-Radio-Industrial Complex, Paula Poundstone's signature style is a conversational mix of audience interaction and observations on mundanities of snack food, cats and television. Underlying the laid-back delivery is her performance posture of shifting between sitting, leaning and flopping around on a stool.

Relevant Specials: Cats, Cops and Stuff, Paula Poundstone Goes to Harvard

Mode of Dress: Button-down shirt with tie, suspenders or suit vest. Unlike other subjects in this sample, Poundstone dresses more bizarrely than in the 90s. Whereas her boom-era menswear look could be taken as Annie Hall-inspired, today's Paula is lifting technicolor zoot-suits directly from background players from Dick Tracy. (Maybe they come over better on radio.)

Sample Joke: I checked in to a hotel the other day and the woman behind the corner said to me, “Do you have a floor preference?” I go, “Yeah, I would like a floor.” Apparently, they can just suspend you from the ceiling now.

Commercial Endorsement: Discover, Pop-Tarts

Essential Trivia: Sorry lovers of cheap laughs at celebrity misfortune, Paula Poundstone is not a child molester. She didn't touch her kids; she just recklessly endangered their lives by driving them
around while drunk, which is way funnier. (She was acquitted of the charge of "lewdness.") Unfortunately, the press over the incident caused her to resign from/be fired from Home Movies where she played a mom who joked about getting drunk with her young son. Truth in comedy.

What is she doing now: Still doing standup as well as being a regular panelist on public radio's Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me which, depending on which side of being my parents you fall on, is either great afternoon fun or the aural equivalent of suffocating from your mouth being stuffed full of dozens of New York Times Sunday Styles sections. She also owns 12 cats (2009 data). Here's her website.

Bonus Video: She advises PBSKids on things that are worth eating, betraying her long-established pro-PopTarts platform (1996)

Dyna Moe is a NY-based illustrator and non-practicing comic. Her book, Mad Men: The Illustrated World, was the #1 Christmas gift to give people you know nothing about except a TV show you heard they watched a little bit of. Follow her on Twitter here.