Will Durst switches gears during election off season

Will Durst

Will Durst makes his point each week for Tahoe Onstage.

He’s a five-time Emmy nominee, has seven nominations for stand-up comedian of the year, has told jokes in front of two U.S. presidents and appeared on HBO, Showtime and Late Night with David Letterman.

But Will Durst still considers this possibly his proudest achievement: he’s had 108 jobs in his lifetime.

I call bull shit: By his own admission he was fired by PBS three times — so two of those don’t count.

Yes, Durst has been around.

“Here’s the good thing about getting old,” said Durst onstage at the Improv in Harveys Tahoe on Wednesday. “When you get up three times a night to pee you can be your own home security system. Not a lot happens in your house that you don’t know about.”

Yes Durst is 62 — but that’s not really old by today’s standards. He has the energy and bravado of a much younger man, which he exhibited in his set at Harveys. I’ve been watching Durst on stage for a couple of decades now — I first saw him perform in his traditional stomping grounds, San Francisco, in the 1990s. And I can tell you that he’s lost none of his swagger and pointed wit.

His routine did seem a lot less political than I remember, however. But there’s a reason for that.

The New York Times once called Durst “Quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today,” and the Boston Globe has called him a modern-day Will Rogers,” And while it’s true that Durst is at his best when poking politicians with a sharpened stick, even the modern-day Will Rogers needs an offseason.

His set on Wednesday included some political observations:

“Do you believe that there are still people out there who claim that President Obama was born in Kenya? Come on. Of course he was born in Honolulu. In a manger.”

He also had pointed observations about Hillary Clinton, Congress and George W. Bush, that latter whom he reveres so highly — in a grateful, ironic comedic sense — that Durst says “He was like a father to me.”

But the majority of his act centered on observational humor — at which he also excels. Such as: automatic flush toilets, sensor-activated faucets and, of course, nudists.

“What do you call a group of male nudists?” Durst wondered. “A gaggle? A dangle? Certainly not a pride …”

The political humor will return, however, said Durst.

“This is my off-season,” he told me following Wednesday’s show. “I usually get into gear around the Iowa caucuses. Then there’s the primaries and the conventions and the race itself, and that’s always fun.

“But right now it’s too early. It’s time to sit back and reflect.”

Durst has played Tahoe more than 100 shows in Tahoe — he appears at Harveys twice a year, and no, he hasn’t been fired from any of them.

“I like it up here, it’s great,” he told me. It’s definitely one of the perks.”

Although in his show, he says that Tahoe’s mascot should be a bear in fishnet stockings. Definitely not political, but something worth pondering until the New Hampshire Primary rolls around.






About Rick Chandler

Rick Chandler is a Tahoe Onstage staff writer and columnist.

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