‘Modern-day Will Rogers’ throws right, left jabs | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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‘Modern-day Will Rogers’ throws right, left jabs

Howie Nave

People often ask, “Where do you get your ideas from — you know, material that becomes jokes?”

Well, most of the good stuff comes from whatever is happening in one’s life, and I hope others can relate to it in some fashion, and of course laugh along with the situation no matter how painful it may seem — if somewhat exaggerated. When it comes to those who comment on the news daily for a living, well, that is a true art. I mean, hearing something on the news that day and turning it into a funny bit really is a talent. To keep the material topical and fresh, almost as if you were a comedic version of a daily newspaper, takes some pretty serious discipline, and that’s Durst. Will just finished a very successful Off-Broadway show that he wrote and starred in called “Will Durst: The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing.”

When it comes to writing about things of a political nature, well, that is even a more difficult task because not only are you commenting about a volatile issue but you are also venturing into the fabric of what our country was founded on and then at times attacking those in government who are messing things up. People have very strong loyalties when it comes to our elected officials — even if they did get into office marginally, at best.

A Midwestern baby boomer with a media-induced identity crisis, Durst, according to The New York Times, is “quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today.” This equal-opportunity offender is exceptionally adept at swatting both partisan political piñatas upside their heads. Durst is one of the brightest comics today, and look at what those in the media have to say about him: The Los Angeles Times called him: “a modern-day Will Rogers,” the San Francisco Examiner stated, calling him “the heir apparent to Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory.” The Chicago Tribune hailed Durst as a “hysterical hybrid of Hunter Thompson and Charles Osgood.” There are many other honors, but all agree that he is America’s premier political comic. An equal opportunity offender. A bipartisan smartass. A man, who in 1998, scored a political hat trick by opening for Vice President Al Gore and performing at both the Mayors Convention in Reno and the Governors Conference in Milwaukee.

Durst was the only comic who received an invitation to perform at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A modern renaissance man, Will Durst also writes a daily Internet column and various op-ed pages for such well respected dailies as The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. I like his spots for public transportation in the Bay Area. Durst was “green” even before the earth was warming up! His biweekly commentaries can be heard on public radio’s “Marketplace,” and he is a five-time Emmy nominee and host/co-producer for the award-winning PBS series “Livelihood.”

His work in comedy clubs across the country has earned him appearances on Letterman, HBO and Showtime, also garnering seven nominations for the American Comedy Awards Stand Up of the Year. Internationally, Durst was the first American nominee for the prestigious Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Theater Festival in Scotland for his one-man show, “You Can’t Make Stuff Up Like This.”

Closer to home, Durst had a weekly radio show with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown called “Will & Willie.” Hobbies include the never-ending search for the perfect cheeseburger, and his heroes are the same as when he was 12: Thomas Jefferson and Bugs Bunny. His performances are made possible by the First Amendment — until that gets revoked.

One of my favorite Will Durst quotes is this: “I hate the outdoors. To me the outdoors is where the car is.”

David Gee keeps it political

Guess who’s getting more political in his act these days? Santa Monica’s own David Gee, that’s who. Maybe because he’s working with Durst this week? Nope. Gee (who dropped the “k” for professional reasons) was a guest host on “Access Hollywood” this summer in addition to being a semifinalist on ABC’s “The Next Best Thing” and has been speaking his mind more and now turning it into comedic outrage at some of the goings-on at the presidential level.

When not going off on a political rant, David serves as master of ceremonies for those classic Friars Club roasts that air on Comedy Central. He also has a gift when it comes to voice impersonations. In fact no one does a Vin Scully better than David Gee: He has that broadcast quality of a voice that punches up his bits with more bites.

David has performed with a wide variety of acts which include the Beach Boys, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Loggins and Glen Campbell. He has appeared on HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central and “Entertainment Tonight.”

Still, Gee wants to remind people that some in Washington need to know what the people are thinking, and Gee made sure of that in the last election, posing as a street-corner sign spinner in our nation’s capital with his political message printed on the sign. When the Geester goes political, well, there must be something going on top of the hill that irks him.


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