Paula Poundstone is a crowd work comedy magician. North by Northwest, a 2 CD or stand-up comedy download set from HighBridge Audio more than proves that nobody is better at working a crowd, thinking on her feet, and being funny than Poundstone and that she is absolutely unique.

This comedy album features two shows. One was recorded in Wisconsin, the other in Oregon. Even a comedy veteran like myself will be impressed by this album.

Roughly 80% of North by Northwest is Poundstone simply chatting with someone in the audience and getting the entire crowd to laugh at how she reacts to what she is told. It is never, ever mean or demeaning although the audience sometimes misunderstands a comment and has to be chided for it. The rest of the show is biographical material about her life with her three adopted kids, 15 cats, and 2 dogs.

The first show features a lady who lives “Six miles from the exact center of the northern half of the western hemisphere.” Paula Pounstone gets a lot of mileage out of that. She also has fun with a lady named Judy who is one of the organizers of the benefit show the stand-up comic is giving. The comic gets in a couple of political jabs but it is early on and does not affect the tone of the show.

The second show has Paula Poundstone talking about her teenage boy and how hard it is to raise a boy. She then gets a parent to agree and discovers that his son, Nate is reading Voltaire’s Candide and practiced fencing for a while. Nothing can throw off Poundstone, not even such an original individual, and he is very good if slightly reluctant at playing along. Another memorable moment is when she discusses how she would read to her children and how one in particular took advantage of that.

Longtime Poundstone fans will recognize a couple of references to very early material such as the touching of the eggs.

Unless you are offended by the couple of expletives Paula Pounstone accidentally drops during the shows, North by Northwest is a comedy album any stand-up fan must have and will provide hours of repeated enjoyment.

North by Northwest –  Paula Poundstone Live!
Paula Poundstone
Stand-up Comedy CD
HighBridge Audio 2016

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