Comic Will Durst mocks presidential candidates — and the losers

[Woody’s Rating: ★★★½☆]

Will Durst assumes an “Uncle Sam Wants You” pose to promote his “Elect to Laugh: 2016” comic monologue at The Marsh San Francisco. Photo by Junior Hansen Jr.

Will Durst assumes an “Uncle Sam Wants You” pose to promote his “Elect to Laugh: 2016” comic monologue at The Marsh San Francisco. Photo by Junior Hansen Jr.

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

Is this year’s election campaign upside down and backwards? In his comic monologue, “Elect to Laugh: 2016,” Will Durst suggests it is. Photo by Pat Johnson.

Is this year’s election campaign upside down and backwards? In his comic monologue, “Elect to Laugh: 2016,” Will Durst suggests it is. Photo by Pat Johnson.

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.

 Contact Woody Weingarten at voodee@sbcglobal.net or at www.vitalitypress.com/

About the Author

Woody WeingartenWoody Weingarten, who can be reached at www.vitalitypress.com/ or voodee@sbcglobal.net, can’t remember when he couldn’t talk — or play with words. His first poem was published in high school but when his hormones announced the arrival of adulthood, he figured he’d rather eat than rhyme. So he switched to journalism. And whadda ya know, the bearded, bespectacled fella has used big, small and hyphenated words professionally since jumpstarting his career in New Yawk City more than 60 years ago. Today the author of the book “Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer” is also a reviewer-critic, blogger and publisher — despite allegedly being retired. During his better-paid years as a wage slave he was an executive editor and writer for daily and weekly publications in California, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. He won writing awards for public service and investigation, features, columns, editorials and news. Woody also has published weekly and monthly newspapers, and written a national column for “Audio” magazine. A graduate of Colgate University, he owned a public relations/ad agency and managed an advertising publication. The father of two and grandfather of three, he and his wife, Nancy Fox, have lived in San Anselmo in Marin County for three decades. He figures they'll stay.View all posts by Woody Weingarten →