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Paula Poundstone talks about the debate, her ties, and why she has 14 cats

Paula Poundstone talks to SDGLN about the presidential debate, having 14 cats and a teenager.

Paula Poundstone has been entertaining audiences for years. Her observational humor is as funny as it is intelligent, and she speaks what’s on her mind.

She also doesn’t hide the fact that her sets are ‘mostly’ autobiographical which makes them relatable to anyone listening, whether it be parenting, personal experiences or life itself.

She is coming to Humphrey's By the Bay tonight, and she took some time away from her many cats the day after the now infamous presidential debate to talk with me about Donald Trump, the debate and more importantly how she came to wear her signature ties.

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News: Hi Paula, how are you? 

Paula Poundstone: Hi Timothy how are ya? 

So let's jump right in, the presidential debate was last night, did you watch? 

I couldn’t help myself. You know I tweeted it and you know I pride myself in writing jokes, but I found myself a few times just writing what he [Trump] said. I thought to myself, well, I didn’t write a joke, but I can’t top that. My favorite line was ‘no one wants to call Sean Hannity. I don’t know why he was saying that. I didn’t understand how that fit into what he was trying to say, and then he would repeat it. He said, ‘somebody Tweeted me that he said Sean Hannity like twelve times. Nobody wants to call Sean Hannity, and I don’t even think we need fact checkers for that.

It seems you come to San Diego quite often to perform.

I do love it there, Humphrey's is really fun, it’s a beautiful place. Last year the crowd was great, they couldn’t have been nicer. Sometimes in those open air, outdoor things you know the energy kinda flows away before it hit the stage, but that certainly was not the case with Humphrey's last year.

It's so funny that we are talking today. I just watched a documentary on women stand-up artists and it asked the question, "Are women funny?" It made me think about the debate last night and how Trump referenced Rosie O’Donell in the debate. 

How pathetic is it that Rosie O’Donell comes up during a presidential debate, I don’t know there was something to me that…I don’t know…I don’t feel there should be space in a ninety-minute platform of talking about the very important things that [laughs] face our country and chit-chat about Rosie O’Donell.

Some current comediennes could be criticized for being somewhat offensive in their acts, but you have always backed away from the more R-rated brand of comedy.

This idea that there’s something more quote-unquote offensive for a woman to say than a guy…I mean honestly I would talk about sex all the time were my act not largely autobiographical. Uh, I don’t have sex, and therefore I don’t talk about it a lot. So it just doesn’t come up. But I’m not offended by someone else talking about it. The truth is I started out in Boston and people ask me all the time about being a female comic in a man’s world, and yes that’s true. I would say that percentage-wise the amount of women versus the amount of men doing comedy hasn’t changed a bit since I started. I mean now you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a stand-up comic. The only time however, that I felt the sting of being a woman in a man’s world so-to-speak, is when I started in Boston because the tone that was popular there was absolutely misogynistic. And when you’re going on following someone who is just wowed the crowd and waves of laughter over saying really horrible, sexist, awful things, and now I go on, yeah that sometimes made it a challenge.

But you’re work has an intellectual quality to it.

Because my act is largely autobiographical it really is what dictates. I mean yeah, I talk about the news and I talk about trying to pay attention to news to cast a halfway decent vote, but it’s not the voice of a political analyst or a historian. I’m not telling everybody that I’m right, first of all. I’m not an authority on anything, I can only say how it strikes me; what I noticed and I sorta put it through the Paula Poundstone machine and here’s how it comes out. It doesn’t mean I’m right. I’m not a great debater. With the exception of last night’s debate often times I’m not even that good at watching a debate because I have a tendency to agree with the last person who spoke.

About the presidential debate and those who don’t know who are on the fence? 

I find it impossible to believe by the way, that there’s anybody who’s not decided. I assume that whatever happened with the debate last night was that people who support Hillary Clinton, as I do, were more entrenched in their support of Hillary Clinton and people who support Donald Trump were more entrenched in their support of him.

I was wondering, where did your signature necktie-wearing come from?

Well, I certainly I saw ‘Annie Hall,’ liked that look. We worship ‘I Love Lucy’ in our house. And if you look back at some old ‘I Love Lucy’s’ there are episodes where she’s wearing a tie; with like a vest and sort of wool pleated-pants. So I had certainly seen that before, but I didn't invent the idea, but quite honestly I might've been high.”

I made a video years ago – you could send in box tops for Pop Tarts and get this comedy video, and I was on the cover of Pop Tarts – what a glorious career I’ve had – so when we were recording the video it was done in those days there was an Improv Comedy Club in Santa Monica California, which is no longer there. A lot of preparation when into this on the part of Kellogg’s, there was lots and lots of meeting over this thing. So I get up n the morning of the taping, and I have laryngitis, I got no idea why, it must’ve been a virus, so my manager gives me some number to an ear, nose and throat guy in Beverly Hills, I think I got a steroid shot or something. And as I leave there..I’m not a big shopper, but I happened to go into a store called the Cockpit—it’s not there anymore—they had a flight jacket with Glen Miller on the back, and I bought that, and there was a green tie with cream-colored polka-dots, and I bought that. It really might have just been something from the medication. Then the funny thing is, after a very a little while in the early 90’s, it happened to be the time when really great tie fabrics were coming out, Nicole Miller was at her peak I think….So I have a number of many great Nicole Miller ties. But if I go into a tie store now, I can’t find anything I like.

Trump has a whole line of ties for you Paula.

Oh Lordy, I can’t even imagine. He said last night that his Trump International was beside the White House and I almost wept. It’s just, you know…really? And by the way, I love the post office. The idea that it’s not preserved and raised up is shocking to me. The idea that it’s now Trump International. Let me tell you something Ben Franklin is on a spit in his grave.

Well Paula, he says he doesn’t pay taxes and that’s a smart business move.

Did you hear that?! That was so incredible… he says, well that makes me smart. So then she [Clinton] says something to the effect that I assume that if he’s not willing to release these other things, he’s not paying federal taxes…not a word out of him. Everything else was ‘wrong!’ And by the way, why doesn’t he raise his microphone? He does that weird thing where he leans down into it every time. I was looking at it last night. And trust me the setting of the mic, probably took a whole f***ing day because that’s the kind of thing they like to futz with. He does this weird thing…he makes this fish-face. His fish-face was really prominent last night.

Well Hillary Clinton has some explain to do about that private server and some top-secret emails. What do you think about that?

I still don’t understand what exactly she did. Definitely she’s lied about it by the way and I thought that she handled it just fine last night, but in the end, from the very beginning when the information came out, I would rather she just been straight up and said, ‘Hey look, I did this. I did it for this reason…it was a mistake.’ But she did foot-drag with ‘no it didn’t, no I didn’t,’ for the longest time. And being a parent, I’m used to being lied to. “

My son is not supposed to have any kind of electronics, he not supposed to have like computer stuff. And the other day I go in and he’s got a smartphone in his hand and he tries to pretend he doesn’t have it. He like drops it and leans away. And I’m like, yeah you have a [smartphone], and he’s like, ‘No I don’t, No I don’t!’ ‘No I don’t!’ So I’m prepared for these kinds of debates.

Later the FBI said she had like five devices, and I gotta say at that point I was impressed. I couldnt have five devices! It's very impressive, I couldn't  keep five passwords. I couldn't get into five different machines. The reason I have fourteen cats is for the passwords: Fluffy One, Fluffy Two and Fluffy Three. 

We both have kids Paula, what's your opinion on parenting? 

It is an impossble job. 

It’s impossible to do it correctly because who knows what that is. There’s a study where they found that people without children are happier than people with children. Well no duh. But part of the reason isn’t because some sort of cynical ‘aren’t kids bad reason’, part of the reason is because your kids problems are your problems. And so you multiply by whatever the number of kids you have what your problems are, simple as that.

Also, I’m married so that’s a whole other relationship to work with. 

I tell you what, I’m so glad I’m single. I would have so hated to committee my decisions about my children. I mean. The truth is right or wrong, the buck always stops here. But at least I didn’t have to argue with an adult about whatever my choices were. I’ll tell ya, my job is so great in this way because I hear stories all the time on stage about parenting, or my parenting and raising my kids. And you know, it is my tendency to believe that I’m somehow unique a lot of times. And that can be a very lonely experience because the truth is we all have far more in common than we have differences. And my struggles – they may not be duplicated by every last member of the crowd, but my golly the people know what I’m talking about.

So Paula what can people expect when you come to San Diego? I'll ask the ubiqutous question: any new material? 

Oh! I Do! I talk about raising a house full of kids and animals. I talk about trying to understand the news well enough to cast a halfway decent vote which we all know is not an easy trick, and my favorite part of the night is targeting the audience. I give the time-honored, 'where you from, what do you do for a living and this way our biographies emerge. So the truth is, organically, every night is different just because of the way that I work. But yes, I always have new material because new things happen. 

Well thank you Paula, it's been nice talking to you!

Alright cool! Well thanks so much, it was nice talking with you!! 

You can see Paula Poundstone on Friday, September 30th, at Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay at 8 pm, in San Diego. 

Tickets are available HERE.