Paula Poundstone (born December 29, 1959 in Huntsville, Alabama) is an American stand-up comedian. She is known for her quiet, self-deprecating style, political observations, and her trademark style of dress: a suit and tie.
Poundstone was born in Huntsville, Alabama, and her family moved to Sudbury, Massachusetts, when she was young. She adopted her first child, Thomas, in 1993. In 1997, she adopted two girls, Toshia and Allison. Later, she adopted a son, who she refers to as "Thomas E.".
Poundstone was a foster mother to several other children until 2001, when she was barred from the foster care program following a conviction of child endangerment for driving under the influence with child passengers. She uses the incident—and the publicity surrounding it—as the source for some of her comedic material.
In 1993, Poundstone won a second Cable Ace Award, began writing a regular column "Hey, Paula!" for Mother Jones magazine (1993-1998), and had a variety show The Paula Poundstone Show on ABC (which lasted only two episodes). She was a regular panelist for the game shows Hollywood Squares and To Tell the Truth.
She was the original voice of Paula Small for the first five episodes of the cartoon series Home Movies, which aired on UPN, but left the show when it moved to Cartoon Network and was replaced by Janine Ditullo. The character's name and appearance were modeled after Poundstone. Also, she is currently a regular panelist on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, a radio game show produced by NPR. She is a regular guest on A Prairie Home Companion, often appearing in shows in Los Angeles or at joke shows.
Around the same time as her Bravo special, Poundstone also released her first book entitled There Is Nothing in this Book That I Meant to Say. Described as an autobiography that is "part memoir, part monologue," the book intertwines historical biographies with anecdotes from her own life story.
In 2001, Poundstone was arrested on a felony warrant for three counts of committing a lewd act on an unidentified girl under the age of 14. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office also stated that Poundstone was charged with endangering two other unidentified girls and two boys. Poundstone pled guilty to the charges of felony child endangerment and misdemeanor inflicting injury on a child. Few details were released, but the prosecutor indicated that the charges were a result of an incident in which Poundstone was driving her children while intoxicated. She accepted a plea agreement and pled no contest to felony child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of inflicting injury on a child. In exchange, the three charges of lewd conduct were dropped by prosecutors.
"The lewd conduct charges against me were dropped because they weren't true," says Poundstone. "I pled no contest to the child endangerment/injury charges because they were. My drinking helped to create a dangerous situation for the children. For this, I am very sorry." [14 September 2001] Poundstone was sentenced to five years probation and 180 days in an alcohol rehabilitation program. Following completion of the program, she was granted full custody of her adopted children but permanently lost custody of two other children who were in Poundstone's home as part of the foster care system.