Watching a comedian move seamlessly between pre-written material and off the cuff banter with the audience while maintaining control of the show, making everyone laugh and improvising most of their set—well, it’s sort of like seeing a unicorn. There’s a very distinct possibility that Paula Poundstone is a unicorn. The comedian is known for her impeccable crowd work, which I witnessed when I first saw her perform in the 1987 TV special “Women of the Night” with Ellen DeGeneres and Rita Rudner. The way she incorporated the audience into her act changed the way I saw stand-up comedy. She provokes the audience with adamant personal questions, mocking their responses, but in a playful and free manner that never quite seems confrontational. With a new CD out called I Heart Jokes: Paula Tells Them In Boston, Poundstone can be heard on NPR’s “Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!” See her live at the Lensic Performing Arts Center (211 W. San Francisco) in Santa Fe tomorrow evening at 7:30, and witness as she guides the audience through a series of quick comebacks and witty one-liners. Tickets run between $27.50 and $35. Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe • Fri Dec 13 • 7:30pm • $27.50-$35 • 21+ • View on Alibi calendar
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Aimee Mann • Field Report
Aimee Mann's story is familiar: ‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” was a new wave hit in '85. Years of limited critical success won vague recognition for the independently minded singer-songwriter until 1999, when her substantial Magnolia soundtrack was publicly embraced. In the intervening 14 years, her outstanding solo work found a narrow audience. She dropped off the radar when inept labels didn’t smell top-10 hits by a woman who wouldn’t play the pretty-