Paula Poundstone has always been known as a strong improvisational comic. So while most of the rest of the world focused on Donald Trump, and only Donald Trump, during the first round of Republican debates earlier this month, Poundstone had no problem moving from candidate to candidate on Twitter.
"Most of these guys say they want to run the Government, and then they say they want to get the Government out of the way... So they want to get the job, and then hide."
"Ben Carson says we should change our tax system to tithing. He should try that in his country club first, to see how it works."
"Christie was almost late because of the traffic."
But while Twitter plays to her strengths, Poundstone is probably happiest when she's in a live setting, whether as a regular panelist on NPR's news quiz show Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! or appearing on stages across the country.
"I've always loved the sound of laughter, and making people laugh," says the 55-year-old Alabama native. "I loved Carol Burnett and I loved Gilda Radner. I really wanted to be a comic actress when I was little."
Poundstone got her start in comedy on Boston's open-mic circuit in the 1970s, but it was while working the night club scene in San Francisco — and rooming with Saturday Night Live's Dana Carvey — that she met a fan who shifted her trajectory from anonymous club appearances and Greyhound buses to television gigs and national recognition.
"Robin [Williams] was living in San Francisco at the time and he was real generous with all the comics," she says. "He hung out with us at the clubs like we all did, like he was one of us, but he wasn't really one of us."
It was Williams who gave Poundstone her first nationally televised appearance, on an SNL episode he was hosting. "He was an extremely generous man," she recalls.
Since then, Poundstone has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come her way. In 1989 she won an American Comedy Award for best female stand-up comic. In 1990 she was the first female to win a CableACE award for her HBO special Cats, Cops, and Stuff. And she consistently contributed to The Tonight Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and Hollywood Squares.
An avid reader, she's also found time to write, having done articles for the Los Angeles Times and Glamour magazine. She even put out a book titled There Is Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.
With the impressive media resumé — and 103,000 Twitter followers — it's no surprise that Poundstone draws a crowd when she shows up at performing arts centers and theaters across the country. Her 2013 one-night-only performance at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center sold completely out, and she's done it again for Friday's show.
But though she's repeated her sellout here, there's no chance she'll repeat her act.
"All my shows are always fresh," Poundstone says. "I talk about [many things], but my favorite part of every night is when I do the time-honored, 'Where you from? What do you do for a living?' And I use that to really set my sails and talk about what I'm going to talk about. No two shows are the same for that reason."