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Paula Poundstone: Still Funny After All Those Beers

Comedien Paula Poundstone says her act has always been autobiographical. “When I was 19, I talked about busing tables and taking public transportation,” she has said. “Now I'm 42 and I'm a single mom and a felon and I talk about that.”

Poundstone has been pretty much out of the limelight after her 2000 arrest for child endangerment and committing lewd acts upon a young girl. She continues to be the funniest thing about “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and she’s just come out with her first (surprisingly) comedy album , “I Heart Jokes: Paula Tells Them in Maine”

Better still, she’s performing March 20th at Cobb’s Comedy club. Itunes downloaders will likely be in for a treat, but they won’t get to watch her fancy foot work. The Cobb’s crowd will invariably see Poundstone crumble into a half-lying down position after a stint of draping herself over a stool, slouching, dangling and wrapping herself in her microphone cord, in a display of highly amusing sloth.

Towards the end of her show, she often does puppet shows, using her feet as the puppets – it’s a kind of lazy performer’s puppet theater – you can imagine an exhausted parent thinking they can get away with entertaining the tots this way.

Before  pleading no contest to charges of felony child endangerment and entering rehab, (and henceforth becoming the poster parent for lewd, drunken foster care) Poundstone exceled at brainy off-kilterism and charming absurdism. Her thoughts could easily dissolve into notions of how to harass folks by incessantly singing "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria," from "The Sound of Music."

In the 1980s, she was poised to break through, like Roseanne Ellen and Rita Rudner but it never quite happened for Paula.

A few years back she published a round-about tell-all called “There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.”  Ostensibly, its purpose is to tell all that Poundstone knows about Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King and Beethoven. Along the way, she digresses a tad: of her televised court order to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, she quips, "that pretty much blows the hell out of the second A."

While the charges of sexual abuse were dropped, her career has certainly been stymied by the accusations and exacerbated by the assumption that Poundstone is a lesbian. She is a single mom, she attests (quite comically) to having no interest in romantic relationships and she wears lots of neck ties. It was reported that the lewd conduct charge was based on a false allegation from one of her foster children, who had been angry with Poundstone, but Poundstone is under a gag order not to discuss it. (Of course, the news of the charge being dropped didn’t get much media play.)

An outspoken liberal and a presumed lesbian, she has become something of an object of scorn for some on the Right and the object of suspicion for many who assume pedophilia and homosexuality are synonymous.

A little while back right wing bloggers gleefully attacked the “child-molesting” “hopeless alcoholic” “lesbian” for an anti-Republican  quip she made on NPR:

“I don't even know what a gay Republican is.” Said Poundstone” Does that mean they beat themselves up in parking lots?