ONN – Will Durst On SF’s The Punch Line Closing, Politics In The Age Of Trump
My talk with San Francisco political satirist, one that in itself was as unexpectedly crazy as the San Francisco Comedy Scene of the 1990s. The man who knew that he wanted to be a comic at six-years-old, Durst was a fixture at “The Punch Line”, the famous comedy lounge at 444 Battery that’s slated to close in August of this year, and said to be in search of a new home.
We started with a talk about what made San Francisco so much the crucible for the improvisational comedy. Durst’s memory immediately went to recall the genius of Robin Williams.
The late star of Mork and Mindy was also performer who helped put the Punch Line on the map. By the time Durst arrived to live in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1980, Williams was already known. “He was the funniest guy in the room” then, said Durst, “before he became the funniest guy in the country.”
Durst said of Robin Williams, that his gift was working on stage with other people, but if you could not keep up with him, he would just take over. Here, Durst praises his wife Debi Durst as one who could keep up with Williams.
Another group that could keep up with Williams was the SF Bay Area comedy audience. Durst explained that he could tell a complicated joke and the audience would pick up the punch line. Other comics would come in and “do their homophobic and sexist material” and the audience would not laugh.
In the green room, the performers would say “They just don’t get it. They just don’t get me.” Then Durst turned his head and said “No, Man. They get you!”
Comedy Ghosts Set Off The Printer Spontaneously
During our talk, the Canon printer that was off, suddenly turned on. It seemed like someone was trying to send a fax. That never happened before, and it interrupted the use of the phone around the house. Whatever happened, I do think it had something to do with a strange “ju-ju” that Durst brought forth talking about the late Tim Conway and then Robin Williams. A wild moment I’m still trying to process.
Durst Says W. Kamau Bell Is The Best Comedian Today
When I asked who Will Durst considered the top comedian active today, the one who he pays attention to, without hesitation, he pointed to W. Kamau Bell. You may know W. Kamau Bell as the host of “United Shades Of America” but he’s also a standup comic who performs around the country, and has his own unique look at American Politics. For Durst to adorn Bell with the mantle of “the one to watch” is high praise.
Will There Be Another Place Like The Punch Line?
Asked if there would be another place like The Punch Line, Durst said “Well, it’s a different World.” Earlier, he said that the basic comedy audience was between 18 and 36 years of age and wanted to “hear people who represent their values”. Regarding the The Punch Line and the future, he said “In 40 years, people will be holding memorials for other venues, or for different formats – it’s all a wave. It’s all a cycle.”
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