Paula Poundstone
Comedian Paula Poundstone will appear Saturday at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center. (MICHAEL SCHWARTZ photo)

Any number of comedians can go out on stage and deliver the same show night after night.

Paula Poundstone is not one of them.

The 52-year-old Southern California mom confesses she lacks the most important prerequisite.

"I have no memory," she says, having just arrived home on a busy Thursday morning. "At first I thought it was the hallmark of a really bad performer, that I should know what to say."

But experience has proved otherwise. Poundstone's improvisational style, heavy on audience interaction, has worked out pretty well for the award-winning comedian and Comedy Hall of Fame inductee. In addition to her standup act, she has appeared on numerous television shows and comedy specials, written a comedic memoir and opined on current events for the weekly NPR quiz show "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me."

"I hold the record for losses" on the quiz show, she says, describing her study method as cramming during flights on her way to tape episodes. "Whatever techniques I'm using could easily be replaced by some stronger ones."

Losing doesn't diminish the fun she has on the show, though.

"That show is a blast," she says. "I work with really smart, funny people, and that makes it kind of a joy."

Improv: Likewise, having a smart, funny audience for her standup act enhances the joy for Poundstone, who thinks quickly on her feet and makes every night on stage a unique, memorable one for her fans.

"I love to talk to the audience -- and what happens is these sort of little interviews and biographies emerge," she says. "It's unlocking the magic of the crowd in front of you."


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One question leads to another and another, with Poundstone riffing on a variety of topics as they come to mind.

"The fun part appears to be the part where I really go off," she says. "But I never know what I'm going to do when."

Poundstone enjoys interacting with her fans offstage, too; she likes to hang out and chat through social media when time permits.

"The first time I heard of Twitter, I thought it was the most egocentric, stupid thing I'd heard of," she says and pauses before delivering the punchline. "And I still think that; it's just that I enjoy it very much."

See the show

Paula Poundstone will deliver a standup comedy show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York.

Tickets are $31-$41.

For more information on the show, visit www.mystrandcapitol.org or call 846-1111.

For more information on the comedian, visit www.paulapoundstone.com.

-- Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.