Paula Poundstone has never seen ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ and other things I learned

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The revelation came accidentally, during a short phone interview ahead of iconic comedian Paula Poundstone’s appearance in Greensboro today: She’s never seen the Robin Williams classic Mrs. Doubtfire.

Poundstone, who is appearing at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro tonight at 8 p.m., was talking about the genesis of “Home Movies,” one of several projects she has been a part of during her long career. It all began when she was showing up to a recording studio in Santa Monica, Calif., to voice “Squigglevision” and needed to rant about “some disaster at home” every time and couldn’t settle in right away.

Those “rantings and ravings” became the basis of “Home Movies,” she said. The story, paired with the fact that we had just been discussing her role as the judge on “Science Court,” (the early iteration of “Squigglevision”), made me think of the scenes of Robin Williams playing with dinosaurs in the TV studio in Mrs. Doubtfire. But the reference went over Poundstone’s head.

“You know, I’ve actually never seen it,” she said. “I watch the same thing over and over again as a result of OCD.”

Even though it’s “incredibly sexist, racist and violent,” Poundstone currently falls asleep every night watching a DVD of “Boardwalk Empire,” which is more of a companion on the road than anything else.

“There’s not a redeeming character in the entire thing,” she said. “Originally I only watched it when I was working out, on a treadmill at the hotel. I slowly lowered the bar, like only when eating Butterfingers.”

Even though Poundstone hasn’t seen the comedic classic, the “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me” panelist and standup comic is a big fan of the Three Stooges and Bridesmaids.

“I think Bridesmaids is one of the funniest things ever made,” she said, adding that she is “bitterly jealous” of the women in it because she’s always wanted to star in a film like that. Poundstone is in Pixar’s forthcoming film Inside Out, but said she isn’t actively pursuing a role like Bridesmaids because she doesn’t have time until all of her children “are on their own path.”

“I’m hoping there are some nice elderly women roles that are just waiting for me!” she said.

There’s something special about seeing a performance live though, or with a group of people rather than alone in front of a screen, Poundstone said, encouraging people to get out and see someone perform or speak, even if it isn’t her.

“It’s one of the low-hanging fruits of mental health,” she said. “Just to be in a room together is very, very important. I think with the overabundance of electronics and the addictive quality of electronics… it’s destructive to us as human beings where we’re not taking care of the part of our brain that makes us different than animals. There’s something really joyous about being part of a room of people, myself included, who have put that stuff down for a little while.”

Though she loves the Three Stooges, Poundstone said she has probably never audibly laughed while watching them alone, but said when she occasionally attends a Three Stooges film festival, there are “waves of laughter” that she is caught in.

It’s a uniting factor wherever she goes on tour, and even though her manager feels there’s a difference between stops in red and blue states, Poundstone argues that it doesn’t matter. Every community has people “who are hungry for being in the same room together,” she said, adding that there is nowhere on a no-go list for her.

Poundstone has been to Greensboro before, several times, though she hardly has time to do anything besides eat, shower and take a quick nap before going to work.

“I don’t know it well at all,” she said. “I do recall the kudzu. That sticks out in my mind. And I remember the Carolina Theatre.”