Comic Paula Poundstone performs at OCC


Staff Report

When legendary standup comedian Paula Poundstone performs at OCC’s Grunin Center next Thursday night, it’s safe to assume the audience can expect a few jokes that are… well, close to home.  

 “I would like to apologize to the Toms River community,” Poundstone said during a recent interview with OCC. While promoting her upcoming Toms River shows on Twitter, she made a common mistake, and was quickly called to task for it: “Twice, I did use an apostrophe. I am so sorry. I didn’t know. I’m not always familiar with the places I go. Boy, I thought Cincinnati was tough!” 

Known for her witty, observational humor and spontaneous approach to standup comedy, Poundstone insists that what audiences see on stage is not a role or a character – it’s just Paula, talking about current events and telling stories about her cats or her kids. Everything is real and nothing is off the table. If it happened and it’s funny, there’s a good chance it’s going to come out on stage.   

“I can’t not talk,” Poundstone said. “I share things all the time. I’m not a good secret keeper.” 

Like her popular podcast, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone,” Poundstone’s live shows are a steady stream of sarcasm, self-deprecation, and a lot of genuine, but-gusting laughter. And while having some jokes ready is certainly helpful at her shows, she insists that the audience is always the key. She learned that early on in her career while honing her act at open mic nights on the Boston circuit, events that she once described as “the community college of standup.” 

“It’s about accessibility,” she explained. “To learn how to stand in front of an audience and perform, to interact with a crowd – that’s where you go. You know, if I were a musician, I could take lessons, and I could get good. But for a comic, performing in front of a crowd is everything.”  

After more than four decades as a pioneer in standup, Poundstone is nothing less than a legend for taking that relationship to the next level at her shows. She has referred to herself as a pinball on stage, bouncing from place to place based on the response she gets from the audience. That feedback loop isn’t just helpful – it’s necessary.   

“It doesn’t work without it,” she said. “It’s possible to be a musician and not have a relationship with an audience – that’s not ideal, but it’s possible. But as a comic, you just can’t. There’s nothing of value in that.” And it’s a relationship she insists goes both ways. “The audience is my best friend. That’s probably not healthy, is it? But it’s true!” 

Poundstone will perform at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 13 at the Grunin Center for the Arts on the campus of Ocean County College. Tickets are $45/$35 at or call the Grunin Center Box Office at 732-255-0500.