Paula Poundstone at the Birchmere Credit: Shannon Greer

Paula Poundstone Returns to the Birchmere

Across her 40 years as a professional comedian, Paula Poundstone has found success not only in smart, observational humor, but also in improvisational crowd work. “It was the strongest thing that I did, so I embraced it instead of running away from it,” Poundstone tells City Paper. “It’s the most fun.” She is best known for her many appearances on NPR’s Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me! comedy news quiz show, as well as her two books, her voice work in the 2015 animated film Inside Out, and her podcast, Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone. Influenced by the likes of Lily Tomlin and Carol Burnett, Poundstone was the first woman to perform stand-up at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and her HBO special, Cats, Cops and Stuff, was listed as one of “The 5 Funniest Stand-Up Specials Ever” by Time magazine in March 2019. On Nov. 19, 20, and 21, Poundstone will perform at Alexandria’s Birchmere, a venue she is familiar with. Poundstone says she’s been performing at the venue for about 20 years. “I love going to the Birchmere,” she says. “Usually, I talk to people with the most interesting jobs. I think really they’re all CIA, but they just lie about what they do.” While she has a track record of commentating on politics (in 1992, she provided live coverage of the 1992 Democratic National Convention for The Tonight Show), she says that she never talks about politics as an expert when she’s in the D.C. area. Instead, she tells City Paper she prefers to speak as a “voter who is hanging on by a string, who is just trying to figure it all out.” Paula Poundstone performs at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 19, 20, and 21 at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. birchmere.com. $55. COVID vaccination or a negative test required.