Comic Will Durst mocks presidential candidates — and the losers
[Woody’s Rating: ]
I called stand-up comic’s Will Durst’s rapid-fire delivery in “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG,” a one-man 2014 show I saw at Petaluma’s Cinnabar, “hysterically funny.”
It was about his aging process.
And, in a sense, mine.
The truth is, I’ve been laughing with Durst for decades — year after year as part of crowds at Comedy Day in San Francisco.
So it wasn’t surprising that my face ached from chuckling as he put The Donald, The Hillary and The Bern into the crosshairs during his one-man show, “Elect to Laugh: 2016,” on a recent Tuesday night at The Marsh San Francisco.
Dressed in a gray suit, with inconspicuous striped tie and conspicuously pristine white sneakers, Durst, successor to Mort Sahl and Will Rogers, transcended political parties, striking both sides of the aisle with arrowheads filled with venom and insight.
He was funniest each time he repeated a politician’s words verbatim, then screwed up his face in clownish reaction. Such as these choice soundbites from a guy named George W. Bush:
- “I think we can all agree the past is over.”
- “More and more of our imports are from overseas.”
- The French don’t have a word for entrepreneur.”
He was un-funniest when he piled metaphor upon metaphor upon metaphor — even if the wordplay itself was brilliant.
Opening night, Durst spent half an hour on political history (admitting “my
William Howard Taft material doesn’t have the same bite anymore”).
And another 30 minutes insulting candidates who are no longer candidates. Such as Rand Paul (referring to him as the son of drag queen Ru Paul) and Rick Santorum (“You know the phrase ‘Not the sharpest knife in the drawer — he’s not even in the kitchen”).
The third and final half an hour was devoted shooting darts at Sanders, Trump, Clinton.
About Bernie, he said, “Kids love him because he promises free health care, free tuition and…everyone gets a pony.”
Regarding Donald, whom he dubbed Trumpenstein, he asked rhetorically, “How do you parody a parody? He’s like trying to staple smoke. His supporters look like a casting call for the next ‘Mad Max’ movie”
Hillary, he declared, is “as huggable as Margaret Thatcher — now.”
Obama didn’t escape either.
“Some people never got over the fact that we’re being governed by a black guy living in public housing,” he noted.
Pounding the floor with the mic stand for emphasis, and working with an antique “overhead projector” that flashed photos of candidates onto a screen held up by a low-tech tripod, the comic explained to a full house:
“You’re my target audience — either you read or know someone who does.”
The crowd’s laughter began with Durst’s first gag and ended with his last — even though he recycled lots of old jokes (his own — at least none seemed stolen from either Democrat or Republican camp).
Ticket sales have been good enough so “Elect to Laugh: 2016” has already been extended through July 26 — with an eye on continuing until November’s balloting.
Durst’s promo material notes that he’s “told jokes in 14 countries,” made more than 800 TV appearances, and “been fired by PBS three times.”
And that his sole intent is “to mock and scoff and taunt, but with taste.”
To use an errant political phrase: Mission accomplished.
When it comes to political satire, I think I’ll cast my vote for Durst.
After all, he’s probably the neo-San Franciscan comic candidate with the most experience — he’s been cracking wise, standing up or not, since 1974 in Milwaukee.
“Elect to Laugh” plays at The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St. (at 22nd), San Francisco, through July 26. Performances, 8 p.m. Tuesdays. Tickets: $20 to $100. Information: (415) 282-3055 or www.themarsh.org.