Paula Poundstone—the veteran comedian perhaps best known these days as a regular panelist on NPR’s quiz show “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”—returns for her third appearance on “Talking Animals,” and we engage in a sprawling conversation that touched on a slew of topics, including ones you would expect (cats and comedy), as well as ones you might not anticipate, like the serious threat she thinks computers and other devices can pose to kids’ brains and development. But given the nature of the show—and, to some extent, the nature of Paula—we began the chat discussing cats, starting with the current population in the Poundstone household: 14. She enthuses about a large, cement-based flat pan she had added to the arsenal of litter boxes, and how it’s largely solved the problem of certain cats urinating outside the conventional boxes. Still, Poundstone wonders aloud why, after 37 years of doing stand-up—the last 20 in the more vaunted venues of theaters—she’s still cleaning litter boxes, much less doing so four times a day? In noting that during our previous “Talking Animals” conversation, in 2012, we spent more than a little time discussing The Poundstone Diner Cam–which was trained on the cats’ food bowl and water, providing a live feed (as it were) to her website—I lament that it’s gone, and ask why. She allows that loved the Diner Cam and misses it, too, but had to remove it tied to teenage her developing a serious electronics addiction, which gives way to expressing the aforementioned concern about computers and other devices with screens for the brains of developing children. Poundstone is very active on social media, particularly Twitter, and addresses what she likes most about tweeting. This became a jumping off point for offering some commentary about the presidential race, including how she and many other observers, comedic and otherwise, were far too slow to recognize that Donald Trump wasn’t an amusing novelty, but a serious threat. She also notes how often Trump’s facial expression resembles that of a goldfish. Recalling our interviews 30 years ago for a major Los Angeles Times profile I wrote on her, in which one theme was Poundstone being deeply estranged from her family, I remind her of a brunch where we were discussing baked goods, and she said “My mom makes great corn bread. It would almost be worth speaking to her,” she addresses, in various ways, what being a mother has meant to her. (www.paulapoundstone.com, www.npr.org/programs/wait-wait-dont-tell-me/archive)
ALSO: I spoke briefly with Stephanie Paquin, the founder of Passion 4 Pits, a St. Petersburg-based rescue that is promoting a Tampa screening of “The Champions”—the documentary examining the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring and other issues in the world of pit-bull dogs–showing May 2 at the AMC West Shore. (www.tugg.com/events/94970, www.facebook.com/Passion4PitsRescue, www.passion4pits.com)
COMEDY CORNER: There was no comedy piece today.
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play Name That Animal Tune today.
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cats, Donald Trump, electronics addiction, featured, NPR, social media, the Poundstone Diner Cam, Twitter, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me