Meet Paula Poundstone, a Comedy Pioneer, Lover of Cats and Political Commentator Extraordinaire


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Paula Poundstone is an American stand-up comedian, author, actress, interviewer, and commentator who provided backstage commentary during the 1992 presidential election on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.


Paula Poundstone/ IMDb

Early Life, Education, and Career

Paula Poundstone was born on December 29, 1959, in Huntsville, Alabama. She is the daughter of Vera, a housewife, and Jack Poundstone, an engineer. Shortly after her birth, her family relocated to Sudbury, Massachusetts, where she was raised. Growing up in a household that valued education and hard work, Paula developed a keen sense of humor that would later define her career.

Poundstone’s career in comedy began in 1979 when she started performing at open-mic nights in Boston. Her unique style, characterized by improvisation and spontaneous interaction with the audience, quickly set her apart. In the early 1980s, she embarked on a cross-country journey via Greyhound bus, performing at comedy clubs across the United States. This period of relentless touring helped her hone her craft and build a solid foundation for her career.

Her big break came in 1984 when Robin Williams saw her perform and encouraged her to move to Los Angeles. She gained national recognition when she performed on an episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Williams. The same year, she made her film debut in “Gremloids.”

In 1990, Poundstone wrote and starred in her first HBO special, “Cats, Cops and Stuff,” which won her a CableACE Award for Best Standup Comedy Special, making her the first woman to achieve this honor. Her second HBO special, “Paula Poundstone Goes to Harvard,” was filmed at Sanders Theatre and further cemented her status as a top comedian. In 2006, she appeared in the Bravo special “Paula Poundstone: Look What the Cat Dragged In,” part of the “Funny Girls” series.

Paula’s television career includes a stint as a political correspondent for The Tonight Show during the 1992 U.S. Presidential campaign and field pieces for The Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1996. She also had her own short-lived variety show, “The Paula Poundstone Show,” on ABC.


Paula Poundstone/ The Daily Beast

In addition to her live-action roles, Poundstone has worked extensively as a voice actress. She voiced Judge Stone in the educational cartoon “Science Court” and Paula Small in the early episodes of the animated series “Home Movies.”

Poundstone is well-known for her work on National Public Radio (NPR). She has been a frequent panelist on the weekly news quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” and hosted “Live from the Poundstone Institute,” a science-comedy-interview program. In July 2018, she launched the podcast “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone,” co-hosted with Adam Felber.

Paula has authored two books: “There Is Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say” (2006) and “The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness” (2017). She also wrote the “Hey, Paula!” column for Mother Jones and contributed articles to The Los Angeles Times, Glamour, and Entertainment Weekly.

An avid reader, Poundstone has been the National Spokesperson for the American Library Association’s “United for Libraries” since 2007, advocating for local libraries across the country.

Family, Personal Life, and Facts: Parents, Siblings, Husband, Children, Height, Weight Loss, and Disability

Paula Poundstone has been open about her personal life, identifying as asexual and atheist. In the 1990s, she began serving as a foster parent and eventually adopted three children—two daughters and a son. She stands tall at a height of 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m).

Net Worth

As of 2023, Paula Poundstone’s net worth is estimated to be around $2 million. Her career spans over four decades, marked by numerous achievements in stand-up comedy, television, radio, and writing. Poundstone’s ability to connect with audiences through her improvisational skills and sharp wit has earned her a lasting place in the world of comedy.


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