Comedian Poundstone performing at The Orleans

Between longtime fans and the NPR crowd, Paula Poundstone says "I don't get a lot of drunk shouter-outers."

At 52, the comedian meets fans after shows who have followed her for years. "To some degree we've grown up together," she says.

But Poundstone's largest national forum is NPR's weekly topical comedy show "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" It translates into comedy audiences of "people who are interested in the world outside themselves," she says. "It's fun to play to them. Not that one has to be very, very brilliant to get my cat jokes."

But "Wait" hasn't quite put her into the Bill Maher or Jon Stewart leagues of political comedy, even if she delves into the Republican primary in her Twitter one-liners. ("There's only one guy left to surge. (Jon) Huntsman is a goddamned genius.")

"I am a person who struggles to make heads or tails of any of it," she says. "I try hard to be informed so I can be a halfway decent citizen. Sometimes people tell their point of view as if they're infallible. There's every possibility that I'm wrong, and hopefully I put it out there that way."

An air of innocence pervaded her coverage of political conventions for "The Tonight Show." "I think part of what made it successful and funny was that I really was filling in blanks," she says. "I really was being informed."

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ or 702-383-0288.