Will Durst’s ‘Elect to Laugh!’ a program for TV reality show known as Campaign 2012
Ryan Summerlin September 27, 2012
As the editor of Lake Tahoe Action, I get an early look at Will Durst’s weekly column and can even give him suggestions about syntax and question his punctuation.
So it was only natural to inquire about the title of Durst’s e-book released on Sept. 17, “Elect to Laugh!”
“Yes, there’s an exclamation point in the title,” he said, “because it’s that good.”
The self-aggrandizement sounds like politicians Durst mocks in his second book, a primer for the Nov. 6 presidential election, which you’ve heard about, right? This election, Durst points out, has a new demographic: Low-information voters, which means stupid people.
While low-information voters are unlikely to buy a book, especially this one, “Elect to Laugh!” has something to offer a casual campaign follower as well as the esoteric. An example of the latter is when Durst channeled President Richard Nixon (or was it Rich Little?) when he described the bluster from either side of the aisle, each of which claims “crystal clear” victory: “Think of it as the Vietnamization of the Congressional negotiation. No peace at all and with very little honor.”
Durst digs deeper than obvious Anthony Weiner jokes, wondering aloud, “How do you mock a parody?”
And satirizing Texas Gov. Rick Perry may have been like hitting softballs after the one-time Republican frontrunner (for about a week) questioned climate change and compared himself to Galileo all in one sentence. “You can’t make that up,” Durst wrote.
Here’s how good he is. Durst had a chapter – “Tax Cut Zombies from the Planet NO!” – in which he described a “somnambulant stutter” from Mitch McConnell’s legion of walking dead with “haunted hollow eyes on cable news shows taking no notice of their surroundings.”
This week it was revealed Perry suffered a sleep disorder, doubtless a factor in his 53-second brain freeze during the debate that devastated his campaign. Oops.
“Wow,” Durst said when he heard of Perry’s condition. “I am prescient.”
Durst’s career began in Milwaukee in 1974 just after Vietnam and during Watergate.
“Back then everything was political,” he said. He made his living doing standup and writing movie and music reviews.
He eventually merged comedy and politics and in 1980 moved to San Francisco, where President Ronald Reagan was a “lush target.”
He emulated Pat Paulsen in 1987 when he ran for mayor of San Francisco, finishing fourth in a field of 11.
“I spent $1,500 on my campaign and the three in front of me spent $1 million apiece, so on a dollar-per-vote basis, I am the mayor of San Francisco,” said Durst, who reasoned why another campaign will not occur. “I don’t just have skeletons in my closet. I have the whole bone army from the seven voyages of Sinbad.”
Read closely into the satire in “Elect to Laugh!” and there is analysis, including this about the intransigent condition of today’s politics.
“Both parties love striding histrionically across the stage pronouncing in loud mellifluous tones how proud and determined they are to stick to their core principles while demanding the other side compromise. The theory being the other side is more likely to abandon core principles because, let’s be honest, they aren’t really core principles at all, so much as they are re-election talking points. And you know what, they’re right. Which side? Exactly.”
Durst said he will update the book after the election, and will appear at the Lake Tahoe Improv in Harveys Resort and Casino Nov. 14-18.
Who knows, the election might still be going on then.