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Balancing act: Paula Poundstone juggles career, motherhood

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    Paula Poundstone performs at Monroe County Community College on Saturday

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Paula Poundstone performs at Monroe County Community College on Saturday


Stand-up comic and panelist on National Public Radio's Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me Paula Poundstone plays the Meyer Theater at Monroe County Community College in Monroe at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Blade recently chatted with the 51-year-old comedian about juggling her career with motherhood, playing conservative states, and the possibility of NPR losing government funding.

On how much time she spends on the road:
Most weekends. Not every one, thank goodness, but lots and lots. I'm lucky enough to be able to do that.

On her children:
I have a 20-year-old, a 17-year-old, and a 12-year-old. I have had the same nanny just under 17 years. She's not a live-in, but on the nights I have to be away she comes. The days that I am here, I do all the taking care of. As soon as my kids are out of school, unless there's a really great reason not to, I stop doing any kind of the work and take care of them. I'm like any other parent in trying to always strike that balance. And I think overall we've kind of worked it out fairly good.

On her busy schedule:
It's not as bad as the girl's schedule in Flashdance. I remember watching that movie a hundred years ago and trying to add up the hours. She visits some old lady, she dances, she's a welder, she works as a [dancer] of some sort at a nightclub at night, and she's a student. I'm not sure that works out. So I have a schedule like hers without the dancing.

On playing ‘red' states:
Everywhere I go, my manager sometimes has this harangue, "Well, I'm in a red state." First of all I could give a [expletive] one way or another. That's not how I determine anything. But she seems to feel if I go someplace that has a more right-leaning reputation that things won't go well, and that's not my experience at all. I just say what I think and feel is funny. College Station, Texas, that's notoriously conservative. People who work in the ACLU in College Station cry at their meetings because it's so conservative. [But] I can work there, because the people who aren't of that mind come out and see me. And by the way, we have a great time.

On the possibility of federal budget cuts to NPR's funding:
I'll probably get fired for saying this, but I can certainly understand the government not funding Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me. It's a show that I do [but] it's not my show. I'm a part of it, and I love it, and I think it's brilliant, and I think it's fun, and I couldn't be happier to be there even though I probably won't when people hear that I say stuff like that.

NPR is one of the best news sources that we have. This idea that there's citizen journalists that are blogging things because they can is a crock. That's not journalism. There are certainly faults even among the standard journalism community, no question, but there's also a set of guidelines and ethics and blah-blah-blah that makes what they do, certainly at NPR, really, really, really good. And I fear an America where people think that CNN or Fox or MSNBC or any of those that are sort of half-and-half ... a lot of people sadly actually think that's the news.

People a lot of times say they get their news from the Comedy [Central] channel show with Jon Stewart. That kind of rocks me to my core, too. That's not news, you can't do that.

I feel the same thing for Wait, Wait. I love Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me. I learn these little factoids and things of interest. I think it's really fun and funny [but] I don't think it's a source of news. We make jokes based on the week's news, that's different. America is like slowly being kind of twisted in this way that people don't know where they're supposed to look to find out what really happened.

I have a lot of those driveway moments with NPR. I have a lot of those moments where I don't get out of the car because I'm listening to really, really, really good journalism. I don't care if they fund Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me I really care if they fund good journalism.

Paula Poundstone performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Meyer Theater at Monroe County Community College, 1555 South Rainesville Rd. Monroe. Tickets are $25 and $35. For more information call: 734-384-4272 or visit:

Contact Kirk Baird at or 419-724-6734.

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