Paula Poundstone performs at Bearsville

I’m with you there: I’m not fond of Facebook at all.

I do a joke in my act about talking to the teachers at my kids’ school, and you’re speaking directly with them and you say, “Could I ask a question?” and they go, “E-mail me.” Okay, but I’m standing right in front of you. Would you have, a few years ago, said, “Put a letter in the mail to me”? And I’m not talking about interrupting, like when they’re on their way out or that kind of thing.

There was a great interview with Nora Ephron where she talked about how she loved e-mail when it first came out, and then after a little while she realized it takes five e-mails to plan a lunch. She’s absolutely right: Why can’t you just pick up the phone and say, “Can you or can’t you?” and have done with it?

The other thing is: We are not as good writers as we believe ourselves to be. So many miscommunications come up via e-mail because somebody wrote something and they meant it as a joke, or they meant it as sarcastic, and it was in no way taken as that. And texting is even worse… I don’t like texting at all, and I won’t do it. It leads to this kind of cryptic communication. People will always try to explain to me, “Oh, I use it when I don’t want to talk to people.” And I go, “Well if you don’t want to talk to people, then why on Earth would you be communicating with them?” And by the way, they usually say that after they’ve texted me!

 

Yeah, I saw an interview where a kid said he didn’t like to talk on the phone because he couldn’t edit what he had to say.

Any parenting books that were written before the Internet and all this stuff should go right in the mulch. People from before couldn’t have a clue how hard it is to raise a kid with all the electronic temptations, with all the problems that it becomes a spoke in the wheel of, like poor social skills.

 

Do you think your audiences have changed over the years because of this stuff? Do the younger audience members interact with you?

I have this small cadre of younger audience members, little kids that come with their family. Not every night, and certainly the house isn’t packed with them, but often; and they’re the ones who come up to me after the show. My manager and I have this great dispute: She wants me to pick an age level that people under such-and-such an age shouldn’t come, and I don’t feel that at all. Kids and families come up to me and talk afterward, and if they found me offensive, they wouldn’t do that.

I love it that kids are coming out for that form of entertainment – whether it’s me or anyone else, by the way. Getting out into the community, being with your fellow human beings is just plain different than taking something in any other way.

My kids and I went to a Three Stooges film festival at the historic Alex Theatre in Glendale, California, and I love the Three Stooges – in my own lifetime I’ve probably, no exaggeration, seen each one 50 times – but I don’t generally laugh out loud watching them. But to go to the film festival in the theater, I roared with laughter and so did my children, because there were waves of laughter going toward the big silver screen, and it’s different: You’re getting this shared experience. I believe that going out and being together as a group – I mean, unless you’re lynching someone or you’re some sort of a mob! – is great for us. And I get to experience that night after night in my work; so even though it’s eating my bones away, it really is a great job.

Having said that, I do Twitter. I love the idea of thinking of jokes and putting them up, not for any other reason than I like to think of jokes. Years ago I used to write postcards, lots and lots of them – I would think of something I thought was funny and send that thought off to somebody. For me, Twitter is like Harry Potter’s Pensieve: I take that thought that’s banging around my head and literally send it away, and then I can focus on what I need to focus on.

 

Anything new on the horizon? Another book, maybe?

I am writing a book – it’s taking bloody forever – and I have a new CD out since the last time I was there. I have one called I Heart Jokes: Paula Tells Them in Maine that came out a few years ago; now I have a more recent one that came out April Fool’s Day called I Heart Jokes: Paula Tells Them in Boston. And neither one is about Maine or Boston; that just so happens to be where I was when I was telling my jokes.

 

What do you do when you have time off, the few days a week that you go back home?

I work myself into an exhausted state taking care of my children and my animals and getting all the errands done and all the paperwork for taxes – just all of the unending line of crap that people have to do in their lives. I’m not unique in that way at all. And I try to get in a foosball game or a pinball game with my kids during the day, because I want to stay in shape. And we have ping-pong parties in my backyard about five times a year: further proof that endorphin release means something. We get together and laugh and have some great rallies – and it’s fun.

Paula Poundstone, Sunday, August 18, 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m., $25, Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker Street, Woodstock; (845) 679-4406, www.bearsvilletheater.com.

 

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