In a two-week period, I went to the Marsh in San Francisco to see two of the most astute, hysterically funny, and on-target comic monologists in the Bay Area: Dan Hoyle and Will Durst.
Their deliveries are completely different. Dan does characters in stories while Will rants directly to his audience, often addressing certain members in the front row. Both had no problem presenting anecdotes and their takes on the current state of our government since You-Know-Who became the US president. There’s so much! And it keeps changing, daily, hourly. As Durst exclaimed, “To us stand ups and talk-show hosts, he’s gold!”
Son of Geoff, a former Pickle Family Circus clown and noted monologist in his own right, Dan Hoyle’s show, Each and Every Thing, directed by Charlie Varon, is “back from New York with updated material”. Hoyle takes us from a Digital Detox retreat in Northern California to a coffeehouse in Calcutta as he tries to discover a true community and a means to connect in this whacked out world. In doing so, using a chair as his only prop, Dan becomes the characters he travels with or meets on his journeys. He presents them so realistically, magically changing his entire demeanor-shape-shifting, if you will- from his voice, facial expressions and body. Each character is presented with a specific trait as he goes from his Indian friend to others simply by crossing his legs, holding an object, or moving his malleable lean, lanky body a certain way. It’s as though there is more than one person on stage. In this respect, he ‘s like San Francisco’s own Jim Carrey. At one point, he picks up his acoustic guitar and begins what sounds at first like a mellow folk song, improvising along the way. As he reaches the end, the mellowness segues into an hysterically funny, angry rant about the US administration under Trump and how it’s affecting everyone and “each and every thing” here, and around the world.
Hoyle’s show ends on August 26. So you have three more weekends to catch it. Thurs and Fridays @ 8PM, Sat @ 8:30. At the Marsh on Valencia in SF. Please note that the August 22 performance will benefit The Marsh. Tickets for this show will be $50-$100.
Will Durst bills his show as “Durst Case Scenerio”, wirtten and performed by Durst. He comes on stage where an old-fashion piece of visual technology sits waiting: An overhead projector where one uses transparencies to project images on a pull-down screen. Of course he jokes about using such a prehistoric contraption to illustrate his monologue. He uses it with alacrity and skill: putting up the wrong transparency only once, then jokes about it. It works well to illustrate his comic harangues He wears a shirt over a T-shirt, casual pants, and sport shoes, explaining why as he normally wears a suit and tie. Durst has always been a social-political comic, voicing his strong opinions on stage, TV or radio countrywide. According to the press release, he “specializ[es] in political humor for folks who don’t like politics”. At one point, he says, that we’re all suffering PTSD: “Post Trump Stress Disorder” and goes on to elaborate on San Francisco as a “bubble” that confuses the rest of the country as well as the current administration and its loyal constituents: from our weather to our diverse population, even to our districts “When does the sun ever shine in the Sunset?” or “North Beach? It’s in the East!” He describes the state of the city once news of the election outcome was announced. He explains “this strange new world and details the anxiety of uncertainty with an unpredictable president.” In short, “Durst’s rollicking feast of outraged and outrageous satire is a comedic exploration of how America is changing in the Trump era.” And it is scary. We must be thankful for comedians like Durst to help us keep our head on straight.
He will be at the Marsh on Valencia in SF until September 19, @ 8pm Tuesdays.