Paula Poundstone (born December 29, 1959) is an American stand-up comedian, author, actress, interviewer and commentator. Beginning in the late 1980s, she performed a series of one-hour HBO comedy specials. She provided backstage commentary during the 1992 presidential election on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She is a frequent panelist on National Public Radio’s weekly news quiz show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.
Poundstone started doing stand-up comedy at open-mic nights in Boston in 1979. In the early 1980s she traveled across the United States by Greyhound bus, stopping in at open-mic nights at comedy clubs en route. She stayed in San Francisco, where she became known for improvisational sets at The Other Cafe comedy club in the Haight-Ashbury.
She was seen by Robin Williams, who encouraged her to move to Los Angeles and included a stand-up comedy set for her on an episode of “SNL” he hosted. In 1984, Poundstone was cast in the movie Hyperspace. She continued as a comedian and began appearing on several talk shows. In 1989, she won the American Comedy Award for “Best Female Stand-Up Comic”.