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In "Live from the Poundstone Institute," Paula Poundstone Is On A Quest For Knowledge

Paula Poundstone and Adam Felber recording the podcast in front of a live audience.
Bill Youngblood
Paula Poundstone and Adam Felber recording the podcast in front of a live audience.

If you've laughed along to NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, we think you'll like NPR's new podcast, Live from the Poundstone Institute. Hosted by Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! panelists Paula Poundstone and Adam Felber, the comedy podcast will follow Paula's ongoing search for knowledge. A search that takes us to some odd, and funny, places. Paula's go-to for talking about the podcast on social media is #laughlearnlaughlaugh, which aptly hints at the mix she's going for with the show. She and Adam are funny people, after all.

In each episode, Paula and Adam will strive to understand different theories and challenge each one's validity. But, mostly, they'll have fun with it. The trailer is now available, and the first episode will be released on Saturday, July 8.

First things first. How did you guys come up with the idea for Live from the Poundstone Institute?

Paula: For years, a highlight on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! has been when Peter Sagal cites studies with questionable conclusions like "Cats are the only animals who don't forgive." He says it casually, in the same tone that one might say, "Nice day out," or "Your fly is down." Naturally, I ask him to go back and explain. I always want to know who does these studies? Who funds these studies? What methods were used? And, how can you tell if a rhino has forgiven you? Peter never seems to know.

Our Executive Producer, Doug Berman, came up with the idea of a podcast that has as its backbone the chance for me to talk to the scientists to get the real information, and have a ball doing it.

Adam: After my wife and I both pretended to be scientists for a couple of test shows, Doug Berman asked me for some suggestions as to who might be a good sidekick for Paula. After naming a couple of people, I hit upon the idea of Adam Felber and submitted him with my strongest recommendation.

This podcast explores some odd research studies, like evidence about what music cats like, and the fluid dynamics of spilling coffee. What's something specific or bizarre that you want to see a research study on?

Adam: For my money, too little research has been done on the healthy effects of an all-bourbon diet. I am currently conducting that study, and expect to post the results no later than 2035.

Paula: I'd like to know what makes us do things that are not in our best interest. I'd like to know why advertising works. But mostly, I'd like to know why I always have more tupperware containers than I have lids.

You guys both serve as panelists on NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, our entertaining quiz show about the news. What's the best part of doing that show?

Paula: There are lots of great things about Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! The audience is probably the best part. Also, as panelists, we are unscripted, so it is like being a batter in a batting cage. We get lobbed topics constantly. It's exciting, and it plays to my strength. Sometimes I swing and I miss, but sometimes I get a little piece of it.

Adam: That show is just flat-out fun to do, at least for us panelists. Peter Sagal has to actually work on it and produce a usable, funny script. We panelists then get to fly in and deface it.

Bill Youngblood / NPR

Paula, you recently told Stephen Colbert that you hold the record for losses on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! What's up with that? You suggested that maybe the other panelists are cheaters...? Adam, any defense?

Paula: It's true. Could I possibly lose that many times if the others weren't cheating? I know, it's NPR, so everyone assumes there is a certain decorum, but in fact, behind the scenes it's ugly. There's doping.

Adam: FAKE NEWS! No, seriously, I guess I DO cheat. I cheat by unfairly spending a day or two before the show reading stuff, brazenly remembering it, and then shamelessly answering questions correctly. Paula is the one who plays by the rules and shows up fairly and honestly not knowing stuff.

Paula, ties are part of your signature look. What's your favorite one?

Paula: I have a tie with the Nicole Miller snack food pattern (Oreos, Screaming Yellow Zonkers, Tic-Tacs, etc.). That's a great one. Still, there is my Three Stooges tie, which has them in black and white, holding floral bouquets, which are in color, from the episode when they were going to propose to their girlfriends. It's hard not to love that.

When was the last time you laughed, and what was so funny?

Adam: I laugh every time I read the news these days! Oh, wait, by "laugh" I mean "recoil with revulsion and sink into an abyss of horror and despair for the future of mankind!" Silly—I always confuse those things!

Paula: I was recently performing in Rockland, Maine, at The Strand. I was talking to the audience about a local story of a woman who was attacked by a raccoon. The conversation expanded to include people telling me stories of encounters with various rabid animals. After the show I asked the woman who runs the theater how you could tell if a raccoon was rabid, and she did an impression of a rabid raccoon. That made me laugh.

Convince people to listen to Live from the Poundstone Institute in five words. Go.

Adam: Wait, you're asking me to use only five words to promote a show with a five word title? That's totally unfair. FAKE NEWS! Seriously, here are my five words of advice: Come see the show live!

Paula: Laugh while you do chores.

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Bill Youngblood / NPR

Rosemary Girard