Driven By Distraction

For as long as she can remember, Paula Poundstone has had a really short attention span. It was when she figured out she could use that to her advantage that she really took off. “When I first started doing open-mike nights in ’79, I’d spend days memorizing my jokes,” she recalls. “You know, my lips would be moving as I was busing tables. And then I’d get on stage and I’d choke; I’d get distracted or not be able to remember the parts or where I was or how to get back to them. But I don’t really remember the point when I thought, ‘Man, that’s the heart of it.’”

Immediately from there, she launches into a story about playing ping-pong with a professional ping-pong player who “thrashed” her with a tiny paddle, and then another tenuously related story about meeting a guy in Montana who tracks grizzly bears. “Who the hell wants a grizzly bear followed?” she wonders. This is really the crux of Poundstone’s sense of humor: Though it does involve some jokes she thinks of in advance, mostly it’s just her riffing on whatever pops into her head. She’s famous for calling out audience members and chatting with them to hilarious effect. “That’s my favorite part of the show,” she adds.

That show lands at the Newman Center, 2344 Iliff Avenue, tonight at 8 p.m.; tickets run $39 plus service charges. To get yours, or for more information, call 303-296-1212 or visit
Sat., Oct. 9, 2010


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