PAULA POUNDSTONE at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), Friday (June 24), 7 pm. $12.50-$25. 416-323-1896, 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Michael Jackson has just walked, and stand-up Paula Poundstone has a lot to say about it.
I have her on the line from her home in Santa Monica just 24 hours after Jackson's acquittal. Poundstone, who herself was the subject of a high-profile court case in 2001, is full of empathy for the king of pop and is steaming mad at the media circus that surrounded his trial.
"All the mean jokes - people don't realize how easily that can happen to anybody," she says, obviously agitated.
She pleaded no contest to one count of felony child endangerment and one misdemeanour count of inflicting injury on a child, after prosecutors agreed to drop sex charges against her in a case that saw her lose her adopted children. They're back with her now.
"I don't want to abdicate my responsibility. If I hadn't messed up, they wouldn't have had the opportunity to go after me.
"But as far as this case goes, I have no idea what anybody does or does not do. I can't believe how many people are talking about Michael Jackson. The attorneys, the shrinks, everybody's talking about the case and making money out of the situation when they haven't got the slightest idea what happened. So who gives a fuck what they think? It has zero bearing on what's true.
"This is no way to carry on civic life."
Poundstone's Big Picture show, which hits the Phoenix tomorrow (Friday, June 24), emphasizes small observations of everyday family life, but she can apply that wryness to politics in a heartbeat. She remembers the last election vividly.
"Last November so many of my friends were terribly depressed. But I never thought Kerry would win. The Democrats are always in good shape until they pick a candidate. I think next time they should just pick someone on November 1."
I assumed, given that she covered the Democratic convention for The Tonight Show in the early 90s, that Poundstone would be big on Bill Maher and Jon Stewart as political commentators. She's quick to set me straight.
"When I hear someone say, 'I get my news from Jon Stewart,' it really makes me nervous. I mean, he's a comic. We should be insisting that he find and ferret out a news source. It's not like he's going around the world collecting information. What I wanna know is the truth."
Poundstone acknowledges that she has a mammoth queer following, but she's not quite sure why. She says she's never been in a relationship.
"I'm single. Whenever I say in my act that I don't have sex because I don't like it, somebody always yells out, 'What about with women?'
"Why, isn't that sex, too? I've never been in a partnership, and when I listen to my friends talk about theirs I think I'm a genius."
Not that she hasn't said some dumb things in her lifetime.
"I'm always saying the wrong thing. I had a conversation with Jane Fonda when she was promoting her book, and she mentioned that she lived in Atlanta. I asked, 'How did you wind up in Atlanta?' and she said, 'I married Ted Turner.' So I asked, 'Did you get Atlanta in the divorce?' But honest, I didn't mean to be rude.
"Did you know that Fonda was vomiting for 37 years? How fair is that to the people who used her video and didn't wind up looking like her?
"There should have been a message with the tape, 'Do this video and then go throw up. '"