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Finding Comic Relief in a Recession

Audio

Aired 6/3/09

Comedian and commentator Paula Poundstone talks about the funnier side of life these days.

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Paula Poundstone will be performing at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, June 5, 2009, and in San Diego at Anthology on Sunday June 7, 2009.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. The typical Paula Poundstone on stage look is unassuming. There's the oversized white shirt, the suit, maybe a vest, some lace-up oxfords, a can of Diet Pepsi, and she's good to go. There's a lot about Paula Poundstone's humor that's unassuming, too. It's a little like listening to the funniest friend you ever had times ten. She's been doing standup comedy since the 1980s and making people laugh since kindergarten. Paula Poundstone has been featured on HBO in a number of comedy specials and on a talk show. She's the winner of two cable ACE Awards. She's also a regular guest on NPR's quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" and author of a book called "There's Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say." She's doing two shows this weekend in Southern California. On Sunday, she's performing at Anthology here in San Diego, and it's a pleasure to welcome comedienne Paula Poundstone to These Days. Hi, Paula.

PAULA POUNDSTONE (Comedian): Thank you so much. That was the sweetest, nicest introduction I've ever had. I'd even go see that person. Normally, I can barely stand myself but, gee, that sounded good.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I'm glad you liked it. You know, I want to invite our audience to join our conversation. If you have seen Paula in concert or you want to know more about behind the scenes at "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!", give us a call at 1-888-895-5727, that's 1-888-895-KPBS. So, Paula, you know, you're a comedian so let's start on a depressing note, okay?

POUNDSTONE: Okay.

CAVANAUGH: Times are tough right now. How do you find humor in a recession?

POUNDSTONE: Oh, I think people are anxious. Those who come out, I think, are anxious to hear, you know, to laugh at things and not necessarily on the topic of recession of course, although I must say as sad as it all is, you know, I lost my house ten years ago, long before it was hip. And I went broke with investments. Jesus, same thing. Eight, ten years ago. So I feel for everybody but I consider myself sort of a trend setter and a bellwether of, what's the word, finance.

CAVANAUGH: What's the word? Been there, done it, done that, right?

POUNDSTONE: Honestly, I really have. I don't even have a savings account because I don't know my mother's maiden name and that is apparently the key to all finance, if you somehow know your mother's sordid history. I don't understand why that's important. But, yeah, I have – I have no money. I have no – you know, I'm really anxious for, certainly in California, the single payer, I think it's called, SB – I always get the number wrong. Is it SB-140 or 840 or something, the single payer healthcare bill that comes up in congress and gets vetoed every so often by Schwarzenegger. It needs to pass because I, personally, have such limited insurance. I have a – If my doctor hits me?

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: Then I would get some coverage. But – I would get some sort of money for that but outside of that – I hurt my back in December and what I had to do was go to the doctor's office waiting rooms and look around for somebody who was bent over the same way that I was and then when they came out, I asked them what the doctor said. And that's how I got my healthcare.

CAVANAUGH: Secondhand healthcare.

POUNDSTONE: Yes. I went to more than one waiting room, of course, because I wanted a second opinion. This is my health we're talking about, I don't want to be cavalier with it but…

CAVANAUGH: I wonder, Paula, how are comedy clubs and venues surviving? Are they still doing good business?

POUNDSTONE: You know, to be honest with you, I'm not really sure. I'm so -- You know, I'm a single working mom with, I don't know, three kids, and two of them, I must say, are like having forty. And, you know, so I'm pretty – I should know information like that but basically I know about what I do and I would say that, you know, I think my ticket sales have been impacted by the recession. I think I've been told that it's down everywhere and, you know, I mean, I – I struggle for every ticket I sell. I actually go door to door and beg, at this point, for people to come out. No, my shows, I think, are – they're fairly full ones I get there, but it's a struggle. You know, I do a lot of promotion. Just drove to San Diego where we were there – we left at 1:30 in the morning and arrived, you know, to do radio and stuff at 4:40 the other day, which I'm not sure that I would've done that in…

CAVANAUGH: In another climate, right?

POUNDSTONE: …in another climate. Although I will say, there was no traffic. It's almost fun to get up and drive at 1:30 just because you get the road to yourself for a little while, you know, so that may have been worth it, come to think of it.

CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with comedian Paula Poundstone and the number to join the conversation is 1-888-895-5727. Now, Paula, you know, a lot of people who listen to NPR heard your commentary right after the inauguration. It was called "Get Our Help While You Can Obama". What were you asking the president to do?

POUNDSTONE: I really wanted him -- You know, during this euphoric period, right, where people were – even some Republicans felt like, hey, this could be a turning point or we might do things differently. Just tell us what to do. I come from the generation, A, that created the economic downturn. We weren't supposed to apparently max out our credit cards, which I thought that was pretty cool myself that I've spent, you know, thousands when I only had hundreds. I thought that that was some sort of economic genius on my part. But to ask our generation in particular to do something, you know, just tell us anything. I had several ideas, by the way. If the president said, you know, only shower every other day and wear your clothes for a week before you put them in the laundry, I believe at that point in history every one of us would have done it.

CAVANAUGH: But he didn't ask us anything.

POUNDSTONE: He never did, did he? I begged, and he never did. I wondered even if he had -- You know, I did the commentary on NPR but I don't know that the president himself necessarily got my message. Although, you know, I should've hammered the guy the other day. You know who was on NPR, excuse me, was on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" a couple weeks ago when I was there was David Axelrod.

CAVANAUGH: Oh.

POUNDSTONE: I'm an idiot. I should have – I'm thinking about it now. I was actually working on my bluff story while he was standing in the backstage area so I didn't kind of buttonhole him and beg. But don't you think that if they asked us to do sort of little things that each citizen can do -- You know, they all say stuff like 'we have to pull together.' You know what, you're going to have to put some different verbs on that.

CAVANAUGH: It has to be more specific.

POUNDSTONE: It has to be specific. And, no, I would say that he has – there was a resource within the American people that is, you know, constantly ignored.

CAVANAUGH: Now I know you don't usually do political humor, Paula, but, you know, during the Bush years, a lot of comedians took a lot of shots at President Bush because a lot of them said it was so easy. He had the language misstep problem. There were a lot of things that people in general seemed to find amusing in a sort of comedic sort of way.

POUNDSTONE: Also, he also, in an unprecedented sort of way, took us into a war…

CAVANAUGH: Yes. Yes.

POUNDSTONE: …that was…

CAVANAUGH: Yes.

POUNDSTONE: You know, we usually wait for the other guy to start it and he changed that rule for us. How kind. Yeah, I think -- You know, he left office also earlier than most presidents do because Obama started long before January. You know, there was a period of time there where – you know, I used to say to crowds, I would go, has anybody seen Bush lately? He just wasn't – for about the last two months of his term. I saw, one night, late, like, you know, about two in the morning, I flicked on CSPAN and there he was in the Rose Garden and there was about three people with – one, clearly, a high school student that wrote for his paper, out there listening to his news conference. And what he said was, Laura and I would appreciate if anybody had boxes if they'd bring them by. So he really kind of petered out, I think, towards the end.

CAVANAUGH: Now I wonder if it's – because, as I say, a lot of comedians thought President Bush was a really good target. What's funny about President Obama? Is he harder to get a laugh out of?

POUNDSTONE: Oh, I don't think so. I mean, we all have human foibles whether we're, you know, whether we're doing a great job or not. And I will say, you know, I listened to his press conference the other night about the GM thing and I don't know if anybody saw the picture in the paper the next day of him in the plaid suit hanging little plastic flags around the White House but I gotta tell you, we own GM. It's ours now. He keeps saying like, oh, you know, the really important decisions are going to be made by, you know, GM. I think not. I think we own GM. And I understand now that he's actually having private meetings with members of congress and showing them the book of the different cars that they might be able to buy.

CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with Paula Poundstone and there…

POUNDSTONE: And have you seen, though, the guy – again, I watch a lot of CSPAN and it's not necessarily – they don't always show presentations on that show. But I definitely heard, as they walked by a congressman's office, I definitely heard the words 'roomy interior.'

CAVANAUGH: A two door or a four door.

POUNDSTONE: Yes, in the president's voice, I'm sure it was.

CAVANAUGH: That's one-eight -- 1-888-895-5727 to join our conversation. Let's take a call. Phyllis is in La Mesa, and good morning, Phyllis. Welcome to These Days.

PHYLLIS (Caller, La Mesa): Thank you very much. I have listened to Paula Poundstone on "Wait, Wait" and it's good that I might be able to see her in person. I have started standup. I'm – I take Medicare so I don't have too much more time to get – continuing to start or at least be in the middle of starting. What do you suggest?

POUNDSTONE: About be a standup, is that what you said?

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, uh-huh.

POUNDSTONE: I missed that.

PHYLLIS: Right, right. I have a lot of interesting, almost funny things that's happened to me and they're so much funnier to everybody else because they didn't happen to them.

POUNDSTONE: Yes, I know those kinds of things. Do they have clubs in La Mesa with open mike nights?

PHYLLIS: The only one I've been to is at the Salvation Army Community Center.

POUNDSTONE: Do they have an open mike night there?

PHYLLIS: Yeah, they do.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, my.

CAVANAUGH: We're very hip down here, Paula.

POUNDSTONE: God, I would love that. Gee, because that's how I started, doing, you know, I started in Boston at this – it was a bar with a western décor owned by a Chinese guy and we, you know, Wednesday nights were the big open mike night nights and you waited in line, you know, for a really long time. Waited for the list of – everybody who got to do five minutes and back in – this is going to be '79, back then, there were a lot of people who wanted to do their five minutes. But it is the only way, as far as I know, to learn how to do this job.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Phyllis, for that, and good luck. Okay?

POUNDSTONE: Thanks, Phyllis.

CAVANAUGH: You know, I wanted to ask you, Paula, as you mentioned, you've been doing this a long, long time.

POUNDSTONE: Thirty years.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah. Uh-huh.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: And – But your life has changed during that time. You've become a mother, and I'm wondering how you manage to keep doing your standup career with your kids?

POUNDSTONE: Well, I'm really lucky. I've had the same nanny since my daughter Ally, who is now fifteen, was just a teeny, screaming baby. So that's – you know, part of it is the – we have a rule that I can only go out, you know, a couple of nights a week and I don't go out every week. You know, there are some months where I have less work than that, which is, as every working parent knows, the good news and the bad news.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: And so, yeah, I mean, I'm really – and my act is largely autobiographical and so the fact that there's been natural changes that come with aging and maturity is only a bonus because it means that it keeps my act, you know, fairly fresh. I talk about current events and the news a little bit, as much as I can hang onto in the midst of the chaos of my house. Last night, in fact – We videotape the "NewsHour" with Jim Lehrer every night at 6:30 and then I try to watch it after I get the kids, you know, settled down. But the honest truth is I'm so exhausted all the time that I sometimes only get as far as the theme song. I hear (humming)… And then sometimes I hear whether or not Jim Lehrer's on vacation and after that I'm out like a light.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: But last night I actually managed to get through the entire thing, I was so excited.

CAVANAUGH: How old are your kids?

POUNDSTONE: Now, 18, 15 and 11, but they weren't always.

CAVANAUGH: Right. That's the way it works.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah. Very humbling. In fact, I went yesterday with my son on the field trip that his class took, which was to the middle school. He's in the fifth grade now and they went to the middle school yesterday for the orientation. And it was – I've been there before. I've done this process before with a few kids. And the speeches by the eighth graders, that's what they do, they have the eighth graders come and talk to the incoming sixth graders so that they can, you know, be reassured and the speeches are unbearable. There's one eighth grader who was the one who clearly was chosen to toe the line and she said to the kids, guided study is not a punishment, it's to help you. And I thought, you know, that's one kid never to be trusted again.

CAVANAUGH: And it…

POUNDSTONE: Either an adult wrote those words or she just decided, you know what, I'm going to be the biggest suck-up on the planet.

CAVANAUGH: Paula, let's take another call. Patrick is in Ramona. Good morning, Patrick, and welcome to These Days.

PATRICK (Caller, Ramona): Hi, and thanks for taking my call. Paula, you're one of my favorite people, especially on These Days. I was wondering, how did you get involved with that and I know…

CAVANAUGH: I think, Patrick, you mean "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!", right?

PATRICK: Yeah, that's what I mean.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: It's easy to confuse these programs. Thanks, Patrick, you know what, I'm embarrassed to tell you and "Wait, Wait" would probably cut my head off if they knew I was saying this, I, frankly, had never even heard of the show until they called me up. And, you know, and then I listened and I really enjoyed it and, therefore, I went down and they gave me a turn to try. And it was a blast right from the start. We didn't used to do it with an audience in front of us and so there was a sort of a different feeling to it, I think. We used to do it all in our various studios, wherever our, you know, Public Radio studio was, and we were all hooked up via wire but there was no laughter because—other than ourselves—because we had no audience with us, which was kind of weird. And we did it that way for a few years. I mean, they did it that way until I had been on board for a number of months before – they used to get invited sometimes to go to different cities and do a live show sponsored by the radio station and that and they decided that they liked that so much that they then found a home in a auditorium in a bank, is where we do the show now, in Chicago.

CAVANAUGH: And, Patrick, do you listen to "Wait, Wait" every weekend about?

PATRICK: Twice.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, twice.

POUNDSTONE: Yikes.

PATRICK: Yeah, I really like it. When you first started, was it a problem getting in with all the other folks that were there? Because you're really the only professional standup that I usually hear on there.

POUNDSTONE: There's -- You know, there's bitter catfights backstage. I'm kidding. No, they're all very nice and it was really fun right away. I think that, you know, a lot of them didn't know me from Adam. And, actually, one of my friends there is Adam. So we were really all new to each other as far as I know. Well, those guys had worked together for awhile but, I mean, me with them. And no, I look forward every week to finding out, on the weeks that I am there—and, unfortunately, I wish I was there every week—but I'm there once or twice a month usually, but I always look forward to finding out which guys I'm with. In fact, I'm going tomorrow to tape the show because we tape on Thursdays but don't tell anybody.

CAVANAUGH: And they're real questions, right?

POUNDSTONE: Say that again.

CAVANAUGH: They're real questions, right?

POUNDSTONE: Yes, yes. They're based on the week's news and we don't know the questions ahead of time.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Right, I didn't think so.

POUNDSTONE: No, the only thing we know ahead of time is they ask us – one of the parts of the show is called "Bluff the Listener" and we each read a story, you know, about something that happened in the week's news and, in fact, only one of the stories is true.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

POUNDSTONE: And so we are given the original story so that we can write something along the same theme and – and then the other thing that we know ahead of time, they ask us – they say come up with something that will be your prediction because they close the show with…

CAVANAUGH: Right, right.

POUNDSTONE: …this little thing where we make predictions, which I'm terrible at. I'm also very bad at writing a bluff story. I just have no – I never have any ideas and it generally makes me cranky. But, you know, it's oftentimes the thing that happened for real in the news is so much more improbable than anything I could think of.

CAVANAUGH: That's very true. I'm speaking with comedian Paula Poundstone. We have to take a short break. We will return and take your questions for Paula and talk about "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" and her visit to San Diego this Sunday performing at Anthology club right here in San Diego. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

[ break ]

CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. My guest is comedian Paula Poundstone. She's going to be in San Diego this Sunday performing at the club Anthology. And we're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Paula, you began by telling us that, you know, you had your own personal economic downturn before economic downturns were cool, and I think most people are familiar with the fact that you went through rehab before rehab was cool.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I did.

CAVANAUGH: Are you surprised about all the shows about celebrity rehab and interventions that are on TV now?

POUNDSTONE: Oh, I'm grossed out by it. I think it's – honestly, I think it's just – I would never watch such a thing and I – it seems to me that it mixes things that don't go together, in my opinion. But, yeah, I find it kind of strange. I mean, the truth is, if I could have experienced my difficulties in privacy…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: …I would have. I don't know, and I do jokes about, you know, my life and whatever but, I don't know, it just to me is a more private thing than that, I guess. But, you know, what do I know? I used to drink.

CAVANAUGH: Well, you know, it was widely publicized, your drunk driving arrest…

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: …back in 2001. And, you know, what wasn't so widely publicized was what a great outcome you had of your rehab and you getting your family back together and everything. Does the fact that the incident made headlines and the recovery didn't, does that annoy you?

POUNDSTONE: Oh, I don't know, sometimes. But, you know, I don't think one can ever expect, you know, media issues to be, you know, fair because so much media – Well, first of all, there's so much coming out on you anyway so that even if things were reported, it doesn't mean that people would necessarily pay attention to it or know about it. But the other thing is, so much media is based on – I mean, it's why I love Public Radio, because I feel like when I listen, my time is well used because I'm generally getting information that's important and told in a, you know, in a rational way. So much media is really only for entertainment. I go insane when I watch a few minutes of CNN.

CAVANAUGH: Umm.

POUNDSTONE: It just makes me crazy. You know, Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. Wolf Blitzer would create a situation just to go to cover it, for heaven sakes. And they said – I heard the other day, they said over and over again that they had won a Peabody and I thought to myself, Sherman is rolling over in his grave somewhere right now.

CAVANAUGH: And his dog, Peabody.

POUNDSTONE: Yes, exactly. He wasn't even – First of all, Wolf Blitzer, I listen to him report and, you know, when I was a kid and I did an oral report, if I said 'umm' that many times, I would've gotten points taken off. You know, he has this way, I think it's because he has to fill time, you know, because that silly, stupid show, if not enough is happening then he just says 'umm' a lot. So he'll – I swear to you, the other day he said 'uh, and now, uh, we talk to, umm, Candy Crowley…' I thought, here's a woman that's been reporting on that show for as long, if not longer, than he has and somehow he doesn't know her name. And he calls Netanyahu some really weird pronunciation for that Israeli guy. It's like Ne-teen-ya-hoo or something. I'm like wait, you don't get to have your own way of saying it. That's not how it works. When my kid spell something wrong repeatedly, I go lookit, you know, I know what you mean but you don't get to have your own way of doing it. There's some things that must be standardized for the sake of language. Ne-teen-ya-hoo. Oh, stop it.

CAVANAUGH: We have to take a call, Paula. Laura is in Chula Vista right now. Good morning, Laura, and thank you for calling.

LAURA (Caller, Chula Vista): Hi.

POUNDSTONE: Hi, Laura.

LAURA: Hey, I'm a huge fan, Paula. I've been listening since I was a little girl and…

POUNDSTONE: Don't flatter me.

LAURA: …I've always loved your comedy and just recently started doing standup myself since March. And I'm doing a lot of open mike nights, like you were saying earlier, and I've gotten booked a few places.

POUNDSTONE: Good for you.

LAURA: And I'm just wondering – huh?

POUNDSTONE: Good for you.

LAURA: Oh, thank you. I'm wondering how long it took you to feel like you had developed a good set that you could go on the road with and it was kind of a universal thing where, you know, you could go anywhere and it would play well.

POUNDSTONE: I'm hoping for that feeling maybe next year sometime.

LAURA: So about thirty years?

POUNDSTONE: Yes, exactly. You know what, I would say that, really, it depends on so many things. I mean, I think for me, you know, when I started, I started out in Boston, as I told you. And I remember the first time I ever saw standup comics there. I was with a friend seeing a band at this little club in Inman Square and they had a sign up that said, you know, every other Sunday they had this standup comedy show. So I went to see it and the sign was like, you know, on a piece of paper. My name was up in crayon so many times I can't tell you. So I went to see this show and they were all terrible, just terrible. There was only one or two of these guys that are still working, but they were awful. They had just started out a week or two before. And so they started this little comedy circuit there in Boston and the truth is, most of us were horrible but they didn't have anybody else. And so, you know, you were a headliner fairly quickly back then but not with a show that could've gone anywhere. I don't know why people came and listened but they did. I mean, I always advise people that are newer in the business to, you know, do that extra time doing open mikes or, you know, guys are always so anxious to sort of move up, like they don't want to emcee anymore, they want a middle. I go, make yourself into the very best emcee that there is and you will make a ton of money going around the country being competent at that because so many club owners would prefer to book a solid emcee than to have to move a guy up that's not all that strong into the next position. But, you know, like most of us, we're all so anxious to go to the next thing, go to the next thing, go to the next – I don't know, I don't know what the next thing is for me…

CAVANAUGH: Oh, Paula…

POUNDSTONE: …or I would go to it.

CAVANAUGH: Paula, you know, I think from my point of view, one of the most amazing things about your shows is your art of adlibbing with the audience. I mean, you know, a lot of people try to do this and it sort of like crashes and burns, it's not really funny, sometimes it works, sometimes it misses. But, I mean, you, it's like always happening. It's like I don't know how she's going to say this and you say that. When did you…

POUNDSTONE: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: …find out that you could do that?

POUNDSTONE: You know, I used to go onstage, the same comic clubs we were talking about in Boston, I bused tables for a living back then, which is really the thing that I was born into the world to do but I've turned my back on that talent now. I used to take the menus—we had the kind of menus that were placemats—and when the prices would go up, they would have all these menus left over that they couldn't use so I would take them and use them for paper and type my five minutes out on the back of these menus and, you know, study it and study it and practice it and practice it. And, invariably—and I'm like this to this day—invariably, I would get onstage and go blank. And so I would have to fill the time with something and, therefore, I would turn to somebody in the audience and say, you know, hi, what do you do for a living, whatever, and start talking. And I felt for the longest time that this was terrible about me, that I couldn't stick to the script, that I always forgot things and that I kept going off talking to other people and you weren't supposed to do that. And I kept trying to tell myself to rein that in and not do that and not do that, and I don't know, one day it went particularly well, I guess, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that that is the magic of the night. That, for me, is – it's the fun part but the other thing is, it's the part that makes the show unique. It's the part that, you know, kind of lights the audience up a little bit. I often have several stories going on at the same time in the crowd…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

POUNDSTONE: …and somehow they end up intermingling in a way that I swear to you is not my doing. It just works out that way. And the truth is, if you go to a party and everybody gets laughing and saying stuff and saying stuff, that's exactly what happens there. So basically I'm just sort of a conductor at a certain point.

CAVANAUGH: And, you know, I – we're – the clock is ticking, so I do want to talk to you about – just a few minutes about your – the fact that you don't call yourself a computer person but you've begun using Twitter. Now, Paula, what's that about? What are you tweeting about?

POUNDSTONE: You know what, I have come to love this form of communicating just because it's funny, it's like a word game to me, to fit something into 140 words and make a joke out of it. I don't tell people 'and now I'm using the bathroom and now I'm taking a shower,' but rather when I'm doing something, for example, and I know this was like incredibly rude of me yesterday but while I was at my kid's orientation I did keep sort of stepping away to, you know, tweet some of what the eighth graders were saying because it was just making me laugh. But, you know, so if I'm doing something that I have a joke about it, fine, I throw it up, but I don't really, you know, take people with me through the steps of my, you know, really colossally boring existence for the most part. I mean, the most important job I do all day is sifting the litter box and cleaning the dog waste in the backyard.

CAVANAUGH: Does it help you come up with jokes?

POUNDSTONE: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: Wow. Okay.

POUNDSTONE: Yes, and it helps keep that muscle, you know, keep that muscle kind of moving, absolutely. I'm telling you, the first time I saw somebody doing – they were reading Twitters on their iPhone and I didn't own an iPhone and I just barely – I mean, I did just start doing computers. And the technology of it is nothing but annoying to me. I had to speak to a man from Verizon one day. That was one of the worst – that was one of the low points of my entire life. He said his name was David but had a really strong Indian accent and I'm almost certain his name wasn't David. I thought to myself, why would a man say that? What would make a man say his name was David when it wasn't? It's not like it's a beautiful name.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah. And also on your website, I saw that you have the picture of what I think is the world's messiest desk, Paula, and there's no computer on it.

POUNDSTONE: No, I carry my computer with me. I have the laptop thingy. I was going to get the big kind that stand alone but the problem is I like to be able to bring it door to door and beg people to help me and you really can't do that with the big kind.

CAVANAUGH: And I also want to just close on this. You mention your book "There's Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say" – I mentioned your book. Are you working on another book right now?

POUNDSTONE: I am working on another book, unbelievably slowly, sadly. I mean, it took me nine years to write "There's Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say". I'm trying to bring this baby in a little bit sooner. I'm trying to wrap it up a little bit like while I'm still young, fairly. But I am working on another book and I – I get distracted. I'm thinking when Random House sues me, I think what they'll use as evidence in the courtroom is my tweets because they'll go, lookit…

CAVANAUGH: Right. Right.

POUNDSTONE: …she's been working all this time.

CAVANAUGH: They have evidence now.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, look what she was doing. What did you – she was writing little silly, stupid jokes and sending them up on the internet. What's that?

CAVANAUGH: I – We're run out of time, Paula. Thank you so much. This has been a joy.

POUNDSTONE: Thank you. It was really fun talking to you. Thanks so much.

CAVANAUGH: Paula Poundstone will be performing at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano this Friday, June fifth, and will be here in San Diego at the club Anthology on Sunday, June seventh. You can go to kpbs.org/thesedays for more information. And you have been listening to These Days on KPBS.

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