Paula Poundstone will bring her brand of humor to the Criterion Theatre on Aug. 13. PHOTO COURTESY OF PAULA POUNDSTONE

Poundstone to come to MDI

Paula Poundstone was recognized for being funny at an early age, and she has a letter to prove it. The letter, which she framed, is a report from her kindergarten teacher to her parents.

“I have enjoyed Paula’s many humorous comments about our activities,” the teacher wrote.

Poundstone confessed that some of those “humorous comments” were aimed at the teacher herself. Her name, Mrs. Bump, was too tempting a target for a five-year-old.

“Come on, I was in kindergarten; I couldn’t resist,” Poundstone said during a recent phone interview.

Poundstone’s humor has evolved considerably since then. She’s gone on to star in her own television comedy specials, release CDs of her performances, provide commentary for “CBS Sunday Morning” and become a regular panelist on the National Public Radio news quiz “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”

“Sometimes I don’t even know where I’m going to start,” she said. “My favorite part of the night is talking to the audience.”

Poundstone grew up outside of Boston.

“I really wanted to be a comedic actress, but I wasn’t sure where the entry point was,” she said.

She started doing standup in 1979, just as comedy clubs began to spring up in the city. She was 19, busing tables for a living.

“I didn’t exactly turn my back on a law degree,” she quipped.

A lot of her early material came from working in restaurants.

“I would have my material planned out carefully then, more often than not, I’d go on stage and forget what I was going to say,” she recalled. “I always thought that was my downfall.”

One day, she realized she didn’t need to stick to a script. She got more laughs when she improvised.

“Comedy is magic,” she said. “It’s not a science. I don’t find it to be a formula.”

Poundstone said she has no routine when writing material.

“I think of stuff as I go around, and I make notes and stash them,” she said. She’ll try out an idea, and if it works, “one day it becomes a thing.”

Politics, especially the presidential election, does provide material, which Poundstone said she uses somewhat reluctantly.

“You don’t even want to and you’re doing it,” she said.

Political comedy can generate laughs but often fails on another level, Poundstone said.

“Comedy illuminates some of what is going on and attempts to turn it around, but it doesn’t,” she said.

Box office

Comedian Paula Poundstone is scheduled to perform at the Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13.

Tickets cost $22, $32 and $40 and are available at the Criterion box office, by calling 288-0829 or online at

Poundstone promises the evening will be unpredictable and filled with audience interaction.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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