Will Durst wants me to publish this interview before the world ends.
“There’s the possibility it could all end tomorrow,” Durst told me over the phone. “I mean it! Every morning we don’t wake up with a mushroom cloud is a victory.” Well, Durst told me this last week, so…so far, so good?
Durst has made his bones as a political satirist for more than three and a half decades, since moving to San Francisco from Milwaukee as comedy boomed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He’s currently working on his newest one-man show, “Durst Case Scenario,” with a debut later this month in San Jose and nationwide tour to follow.
“I didn’t think that after the election that anyone would be interested in hearing about politics,” Durst said. “I thought Hillary was going to win.”
So he’d begun working on a different show centered on the aging baby boomer generation, which includes the 65-year-old comedian. Then Trump won. And Durst’s Election Night show took a drastic turn. “People were weeping openly. Which admittedly has happened before at my shows. But not in the middle!” he said.
Since November, he said audiences have looked at him and other comedians as therapists. “I’d never gotten ‘Thank you’ before” from audience members, Durst said, but now he hears thanks more and more often. “We’re seeing them through the PTSD: President Trump Stress Disorder.”
His “Durst Case Scenario” show will have him working off of an overhead projector, diagnosing the disorder and how to cure it, as if he were a doctor.
If Mort Sahl pioneered San Francisco’s satirist scene by riffing off of the daily newspaper in his hands onstage, contemporary satirists such as Durst can simply look at Trump’s latest Tweets off of their phones. And being on the West Coast makes waking up to Twitter that much more of a daily shock, Durst jokes. “He’s got a three-hour head-start on us. It’s never been important before. It’s never mattered!”
“Durst Case Scenario” will open Memorial Day Weekend in San Jose, with Durst planning at least six months of dates in various theaters across America.
“I got kind of an itchy finger on this, because I don’t know how much longer what I do is going to be legal,” he jokes. “This is my prediction. Two years of great material. Two years of hiding. Eight to ten years of reeducation in a gulag.”