Time is ripe for political humor

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and President Barack Obama all are fair game in comic Will Durst’s savage verbal soiree “Elect to Laugh,” now playing at The Marsh.

But ask Durst if there’s a secret to the success of his one-man show about the country’s precarious political culture and he’s quick to point out that he’s “just a comic.”

“Most one-man shows are about depression and suicide or recovery from cancer, and I don’t have any of that” he says. “I just tell jokes.”

Still, it’s how Durst crafts his material and the distinctly unique way he presents it that have made him one of the most original, insightful comics around — not just in the Bay Area, but nationally, too.

“I think people are just so desperate to talk about this stuff,” he says about the current show’s success; it’s running every Tuesday night through November. “Because it’s an election year, there’s so much material out there. It’s so rife. And every week there is something different, and I love that format.”

Originally from Milwaukee, Wis., Durst admits that humor was a vital part of his upbringing.

“It was a currency in our family and just instinctual,” he says. “And I went to 14 different schools before I graduated from high school so I was always the new kid.”

He arrived in the Bay Area in 1980 and proudly claims he is “not a rarity here — I’ve been around.”

That’s an understatement. Heralded for his shrewd wit, Durst has nabbed numerous Emmy nods and generated buzz as a radio host and in TV appearances, from Letterman to Fox News to HBO.

When his off-Broadway show “The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing” became a bona fide hit, it quickly went on to become a successful book.

Those factors play into his current show, in which he sinks his creative teeth into the neck of the beast he calls election year. Lately, he has been most amused by extremes initiated by the tea party.

“Everybody had their shot at the brass ring,” he says. “Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum. Even Donald Trump and Sarah Palin once led the polls and then, they’re like cockroaches — they see the light and scurry away.

“I mean, even Pat Robertson said the Republican field was too extreme — Pat Robertson! It’s like having a drug intervention hosted by Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen is driving the van.”


If You Go

Will Durst: Elect to Laugh

Where: The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St. (near 22nd Street) S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays; closes Nov. 6

Tickets: $15 to $50

Contact: (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org

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