We’re all in this together

Paula Poundstone to perform at Victoria Theatre

 By: Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

Photo: “I’m really happy to have John McCain pulling the curtain back on Internet addiction.” Paula Poundstone will perform at the Victoria Theatre on Oct. 11; photo: Michael Schwartz

If I were a betting woman, I’d put money on odds that Paula Poundstone has made you laugh at some point during her multiple decades as a comedian. Her disarming honesty and wry sense of humor have earned her acclaim, spawned her own television programs, filled numerous books and a CD and, perhaps most importantly, puts our downfalls as humans out on the table for us to all point and laugh at and, finally, move on.

In the precious few moments between working, touring and caring for her brood (which includes three children, 16 cats, two German shepherd mix dogs, a bearded dragon lizard, a lop-eared bunny and a solitary ant on her ant farm), Paula took the time to chat with the Dayton City Paper on the phone from her home in Santa Monica, Calif. We went on to discuss easily distracted elected officials, the foibles of Internet addiction and the ability of shared experience to bring you back from the edge.

The Information Age – how are we doing with all that?

I just saw on the BBC website … that last year there were 300,000 attempts from out of the Parliament to go on porn websites. Now, they’re disputing this. They’re saying the site that has that evidence doesn’t tally it correctly. So maybe it’s not 300,000, but could we argue then that 60,000 was a good idea?! And then John McCain got caught playing phone poker during a meeting about Syria. – Paula Poundstone

Wow. That’s a lot of Internet distraction happening.

It is a lot of Internet distraction. So, no bloody wonder that my 15-year-old can’t broker his time better if he’s anywhere near a computer. – PP

How do you handle that as a parent?

It’s horrible! Hands down, by a mile it is the number one subject of argument between he and I. It is the number one problem in terms of honesty. He will lie, trick, con, steal, cheat. He would stab me in my sleep if he thought it would get him closer to a computer. It really is a big problem. I’ve been shouting this from the rooftops from the beginning of all this bullshit. … But no one likes to admit that they have some sort of addiction to it. No one likes to admit that it’s causing them problems … So I’m really happy to have John McCain pulling the curtain back on Internet addiction. I mean, my generation certainly did it with television. I could waste the whole day sitting and watching TV when I was a kid, and I did. …Whatever. I’m just glad that John McCain unveiled it, that’s all. – PP

In your comedy, you face a lot of your difficult life experiences (including temporarily losing custody of your children) head-on with wit and humility, whereas others might just assume sink into a well of “Oh, poor me.” How do you do that? How can others do that?

When I was in the thick of all that disaster, it was a very confusing time in a lot of ways, and I got myself to a place where I got up every day and said, “How do I make this better?” Literally, from the beginning of my morning, everything I would go about doing that day and night was, “How do I make this better?” Specifically for my children, by the way, whom I really screwed over. Some ways that I made it better were that I made jokes about it, because it’s a healthy way to deal with things. I think pretty much for everybody, because nobody really goes unscathed. All of us screw up in some way at one point or another. And I also had people in my life that said to me, “I did this thing that I regret in my past,” and I found that the people who shared things with me made life so much more bearable. … The great things about my job are: A) scientifically, laughter produces endorphins, so I feel myself to be a proud member of the endorphin production industry, and B) especially at my age, and I’m 53, there’s something about telling people about “This thing that went wrong” or “This thing that I’m struggling with” or “This experience that I had,” and it’s so much fun because people respond because we’re not the only one. No matter how unique and special I may feel myself to be, there’s nothing that’s unique about me, you know? And having that revelation in a room full of people, where we all get to laugh, just feels fantastic. – PP

Thank you for inviting us to be a part of that experience.

The truth is, if I did it at home by myself, it wouldn’t be any fun at all! It’s the collection of all of us that’s the fun thing. It’s not just me by any stretch. It’s the fact that a group of people came out to laugh for the night. It’s a combination of events. Any element of the night that was taken away, any person that wasn’t there on that particular night would make it different. It wouldn’t be as good. – PP

Paula Poundstone will perform at the Victoria Theatre on Friday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Schuster Center box office or online at ticketcenterstage.com.

 Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com


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About Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

View all posts by Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin is a writer and amateur cartographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She has been a member of PUSH (Professionals United for Sexual Health) since 2012 and is currently serving as Chair. She can be reached at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com or through her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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