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Poundstone leaves them laughing at the Peak

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    LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Paula Poundstone's improvisational skills leave Penn's Peak fans wanting more.
Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

"It was all over Facebook and Twitter that I was going to be in Pennsylvania and people were surprised. Not the people in other states, but people from Pennsylvania," was the first thing Paula Poundstone said at her performance at Penn's Peak on Friday night.

"I know about Pennsylvania. I went to basketball camp in Pennsylvania."

And that's how she roped in her Pennsylvania audience right from the start.

With her signature stool and microphone, she popped a can of diet cola and began a two-hour laugh fest.

She touched on almost every relative topic in today's news from health care reform to airline security and had a commentary to make about each.

Even Swine Flu.

"I had Swine Flu last spring. I woke up with two eggs beside me," she quipped.

She talked about California, where she lives.

"It's a terrible state. They've been telling us we were in a dry season. For years. They told us it's not a drought, just dry. Then there's our budget. What budget? We don't have a budget. They're still working on it. And we're told we have an obesity problem. That makes us Californians big fat dry broke people."

Known for her improvisation skills, her talent is to single people out in the audience and do a stand-up comedy act from questioning them on who and what they are.

She picked out one guy in the audience, asked him what he does for a living. He said he was a health information engineer who works with health stimulus funds which led her to talk about the economy.

"Does anyone know what the word economy means?"

When no one responded, she became thrilled.

"Oh, you're my people. I have to move to PA to be with my people!"

After having some fun with a lady in the audience who was a field tech for a mail machine she said, "Let's go to Fairyland. I came by Fairyland Road," referring to the name of the road from Weissport to Penn's Peak.

She wondered how Fairyland Road got its name and someone from the audience said it came from Fairyland Farm. Raising her eyebrows and using a suggestive tone of voice she asked, "And who owned Fairyland Farm?"

The references to a local landmark brought lots of laughs from an appreciative audience.

"My driver was telling me the history of Jim Thorpe. What was it before?" she asked and people responded with "Mauch Chunk."

"And you weren't willing to give that up?" she questioned.

Periodically, she'd turn her head and coughed in the crook of her arm, saying it was a residual of her Swine Flu.

At one point in the show she said, "I can't help but notice that there are about 20 empty seats here in the front. Did they hear I had a cough?"

"I have 13 cats," she said and started to imitate a cat throwing a hair ball.

"And that's the sound I fall asleep to every night."

She brought up prescription drugs and how one commercial says this one drug's side effects is anal leakage.

"Right there is reason enough why I would never take that pill," and Viagra's observations turned to sex which she said she had no interest in.

"I'm a working single mom of three children, 13 cats, one dog, a bearded lizard. I don't go to sleep at night. I pass out!"

Toward the end of the show, she mentioned public libraries and how she is an avid reader.

"Until last year, I wasn't aware that they weren't funded by the states."

Paula was named the national spokesman/spokeswoman for Friends of Libraries U.S.A (FOLUSA), a citizens support group with chapters all over the country that help raise money for their local libraries children's summer reading programs, author events, special book collections, equipment, and whatever else they might need.

To help support local libraries, after each show, Paula has copies of her book, "There's Nothing In This Book I Meant To Say," part memoir, part monologue, it features biographies of legendary historical figures including Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc and Sitting Bull, among others, from which she can't help digressing to tell her own story. Also being sold is her CD, "I Love Jokes." Fifty percent of each sale goes to that library.

Friday night after the show, Susan Sterling, Jim Thorpe's Dimmick Memorial Library director, Janet Hermann and Judy Gill, members of the Friends of the Library, sold 32 books and 20 CDs and 50 percent of the sales went to Dimmick. They ran out of both and probably could have sold twice as many.

In closing her act, Paula said, "I should go. I've been in this business long enough to know it's best if I leave first."

With that, she walked offstage to a standing ovation.

Quickly, a large line formed with people who wanted to either purchase her book or CD and have her autograph them or tickets.

Barbara Bitsas of Lehighton gushed, "She was fantastic! I loved it. I've seen her on HBO and following her for years. I love her improvisation. I can't believe she can be that quick."

Shelly Kresge of Slatington was amazed at how she interacts with the crowd.

Kelley Uravage of Laflin said, "Oh my gosh. My face hurts from smiling."

"It was a good show. Her improv is great. It's not just sketches," said Jerry Uravage of Laflin.

"Paula Poundstone of Penn's Peak. Don't you love the alliteration?" asked Kelley.

"She was hilarious!" said Julie Mates of Clark Summit.

"I had a great time. It was two hours of improvisation, which is impressive. There was a lot of audience interaction," said Russ Mates of Clark Summit.

Maribeth of New York said she has been a fan of Paula's since the 80s.

"I do stand up comedy at the Gotham City Comedy Club so I know how hard it is to do what she does. She's a goddess," she said.

She and her friend, Heather Bisson, also of NYC drove to Jim Thorpe just to see Paula.

The award-winning Poundstone left her witty mark on those who attended the show, leaving them begging for a return performance.

"I hope she comes back," said Julie Mates.

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