Even though he gets some healthy chuckles when he says, “I aspire someday to be a satirist,” Will Durst is doing just fine as the garden-variety political comedian he proclaims to be.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the lengthy 2016 presidential race has provided the veteran Bay Area comic with no shortage of clowns to fuel his act, “Elect to Laugh,” running Tuesdays at the Marsh In The City.
Animated and articulate, the comedian has a way with a simile.
His take on having Iowa, New Hampshire (so white that it makes the Pillsbury Doughboy look Aboriginal) and South Carolina (packed with “low-information” – i.e., stupid — voters) as the three states whose early primaries steer the election, he says, is “like beginning a film appreciation course with an Adam Sandler retrospective.”
One can tell he’s been at this for awhile. He jokes about how his William Howard Taft material isn’t playing so well in the 21st century, but then shares that his comedy career actually started right after Richard Nixon left office, and ticks off the various presidents he’s taken aim at in the decades since.
Jokes aren’t even necessary for George W. Bush. Durst simply repeats a few priceless direct quotes, such as “We all could agree, the past is over” and “The problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.”
Scandal-free (“Smooth as a jar of Skippy”) Barack Obama is tougher. (“How do you mock hope?” he asks).
Yet Durst does have a few choice comments about citizens in the electorate uncomfortable with being governed by a person of color, who perhaps thought of Obama: “Why don’t we try out a half-black and the work our way up to Samuel L. Jackson?”
As for picking Obama’s successor, Durst isn’t entirely confident that the American people (“who love the Home Shopping Network because it’s commercial free”) will make the best choice.
Dressed in a white suit, strutting across the stage, sometimes using a microphone (though he doesn’t need one), Durst also charmingly employs an archaic overhead as a visual aid to depict the 2016 race’s myriad candidates, both Republicans and Democrats. (Does anyone even remember Lindsay Graham or Jim Webb?)
He counts down to presumed nominees Hillary Clinton (open-mouthed, wide-eyed and crazed in her photo), and Donald Trump (his oft-ridiculed huge hair strand sticking straight up), leaving his amused audience with a simple message.
Despite a lack of qualified candidates — how did the U.S. presidency become an entry level job?, he asks– Durst urges his audience to vote, perhaps deploying the only cliche in his wonderful, 70-minute rant: If you don’t, you can’t complain.
However, in the case of those who don’t, he offers welcome consolation. As he’s been dutifully doing for decades, he will pick up the slack,
Will Durst: Elect to Laugh
Where: Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays
Tickets: $20 to $100
Contact: (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org