Laughter Heals

Paula Poundstone To Perform Saturday At Reg Lenna

Paula Poundstone

During her show, Paula Poundstone likes interacting with her audience.

She said she has taken cues from the audience by reacting to the audience’s reaction.

And sometimes, she remembers something from her past, and adds more humor to the already humorous exchange.

“The audience is the best part,” she said. “I don’t have like an act. I have 40 years of material rattling around somewhere in my head, and I have my audience in front of me. My favorite part of the night is just talking to the audience. I do the time-honored ‘where you from, what do you do for a living?’ And in this way, little biographies emerge and I use that from which to set my sails. Sometimes I will have a conversation with an audience member wherein some of the things I say are unique just to that night and I haven’t said before and I won’t say again. It just has to do with the conversation with that person. Perhaps part of that same conversation where something is said that reminds me of a piece of material and I do it.”

Poundstone said humans are a lucky species in that humans get to laugh. “It’s an endorphin production machine,” she said of comedy. “I don’t know of any other species that has this thing. Sometimes I think raccoons, and of course our relatives, chimpanzees. Nature has given us this response to things. Laughter is a great coping mechanism.”

For Poundstone, almost everything is fodder for her comedy. “My life, and the audience and our experience together and the room that night is a little bit like Willy Wonka’s chocolate waterfall. It churns the chocolate. You get talking to an audience member, and it’s like talking to a friend. They say something and it reminds you of a story. There is also the shared experience that you are having in that moment, and then there is current events which you almost have to talk about nowadays.”

When developing new material, Poundstone said she doesn’t have a “done” button to know when her material is ready.

“I bring it out half-baked all the time,” she said. “I used to go to the trouble of writing pages of a piece of material. I would write it out by hand or I would type it out, and I would do my best to memorize it. And the truth is it (the material) is different on stage than it is on paper. There is stuff on stage that the audience doesn’t have the patience for whereas on the written page it’s great. In my notebook, there’s generally not more than a handful of words to remind me of an idea. Then I take it on stage and I bang it around. I might tell it one way one time and another way another time, and eventually I see how it fits. Sadly there is stuff that I don’t remember anymore. But that makes me think of new stuff. Sometimes you try something and it works, and sometimes you put it aside for a while and I don’t know, it’s time will come.”

For the audience, she assures that no one will get hurt because there will be no mosh pits, and no one will be trampled rushing the stage.

“It’s a night of healing laughter,” she said.

After the show the healing continues during the meet-and-greet. “I love it when people come up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I haven’t laughed that hard … or they say ‘My jaw hurts. My face hurts from laughing. It (laughter) is the best thing for you. In some cases, it may be the only healthcare we are able to get. When you get together with friends and you laugh or when you come out for a night of comedy and you are laughing and you say ‘Why haven’t I done that in so long?’ “

Poundstone is scheduled to perform Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Reg Lenna Center for Performing Arts, 116 E. Third St., Jamestown. For more information go to reglenna.com or call 484-7070.