Will Durst, the San Francisco-based political comic, will be performing “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion” at The Rrazz Room at The Hotel Nikko in San Francisco on Monday and Oct. 12. He tells us how he found his career path, who has inspired and uplifted him along the way, and why political comedy holds a lot of job security.
Is there a “golden rule” by which you live? There’s a golden rule by which I conduct myself onstage: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. You don’t make fun of anyone who’s handicapped … unless they’re handicapped by greed.
What is something about you that people would find surprising? I love Perry Mason. My favorite TV show of all time.
How did you start doing stand-up and why? Well, I started in ’74. Nov. 4, 1974. It was a cross between journalism and theater, which I was taking in college. I always wanted to be a stand-up but didn’t know how to do it. That’s why I took both: to learn how to write and perform. I’m sort of a stand up journalist.
Who has left the biggest impression on you as you’ve gone through life? I guess it would have to be a guy who spent some time in San Francisco: Lenny Bruce, who broke new ground in terms of what was funny and then died so that future generations of comics could say the “f” word a lot.
What was the strangest job you’ve ever had? I’ve had 108 jobs and stopped counting about 15 years ago. I was a tour guide in a cave, I was a sod farmer, and a rickshaw driver at Fisherman’s Wharf and a bus boy at the Grand Canyon. …
Where or to whom do you turn to in dark times? The Marx Brothers. I lost a TV gig a couple of years ago and was crushed. It was a series gig, and I was going to be the host, and they called me up just before a road trip and said the producers were going in a different direction, and I was out. And I went straight to my DVD collection, pulled out “Duck Soup,” and was laughing like crazy 20 minutes later. My therapists are Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo. Gummo, not so much.
Where do you find inspiration? By writing. It’s a muscle. Even when you don’t feel funny, you have to write. Fortunately, I have the best co-writers in the business: 535 members of Congress, 15 cabinet members and various leaders, pseudo-leaders and psycho leaders. So, my job security is pretty solid.
What would you want most to hear your colleagues say about you? I guess what I want my peers to say about me is, “That gray haired old dude can still bring it.” Which I can, and they do. A couple of the kids actually came up to me after Comedy Day this year and said I had the best set. Bless their little hearts.