Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Durst’s Political Outbursts

blog_WillStandSmileA night of Tax Relief Comedy files into the Kuumbwa.
The Kuumbwa Jazz Center is the most intimate and acoustically perfect room for comedy in Santa Cruz. Even with a small crowd the laughter percolates, and on Saturday, the moment was ideal for a thematic comedy event.

The premise of the show was Tax Relief Comedy and the opening comic and host was none other than the irascible Glenn Beck, played by Kurt Weitzmann. A soul of the Bay Area comedy scene, Weitzmann has spent decades honing his craft—bringing forth such notable classic ensemble pieces as The Hitler Roast and The Jesus Roast. Imitating one of the most deranged characters in the political media melee has its challenges: like, how do you outdo somebody who already is a parody of himself? But the small audience warmed up to Weitzmann’s shenanigans and he set the stage for the most spoofed bouffant in the biz.

Tea Party 2012 hopeful, Sarah Palin, played by comic Mari Esther Kaplan, was spot-on in appearance and mish-mash nonsense lingo. Kaplan got the crowd chuckling with her gun slinging, wild-eyed rush to appear as if she knew what she was talking about. If Palin actually makes it to the primaries, we will be thankful that comics like Kaplan have got their bead on the crosshair.

Next up, as himself, was a true original voice in a world of simulacra’s, the legendary Will Durst. Old school comedy means different things to different people. For me, it means comics that have some sustenance to their act, some roots in the world and an appreciation of the decades that go beyond Facebook and Charlie Sheen jokes (although there’s nothing wrong with that). Headliner Will Durst is cut from a different bolt of cloth than most comics, or humans. Durst is one of a withering gang of great comedians who are also social commentators—people like Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Will Rodgers, Mark Twain and the King of class clowns, George Carlin. Durst can spin tales of the behind-the-scenes-double dealings that go on in the two-party state like a card shark on a riverboat.

There are those comics (Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher) who are in the million watt spotlight of American media and who are comedian/commentators, but those guys have a mule team of writers behind them.  Durst works alone, spending his days reading the newspapers and finding twists on the headlines. His shotgun approach to the show, including a Q&A with the audience, ping-ponged its way through such topics as giving huge tax breaks to the poor—“Give us the money, we’ll spend it! We’ll spend it on crazy things like food and rent”—to living in San Francisco—“In SF, Halloween is redundant”—to Sarah Palin, who he labeled “Caribou Barbie.”

Durst is one of the most approachable, no nonsense comics you can find. When asked, recently, if he had any advice for new comics he said, “I don’t know how to explain it. You hear all these clichés, you hear there’s a closet door in Utah that you uncover and discover a bunch of clues, you open the door and bathe in a bright white light and become a stand-up comic. It’s not like that, you just do it, keep doing it and try and find out who you are, who your voice is. That’s what’s going to last. The lines aren’t going to last. The character will last and the voice will come out of the character if you keep focusing on that and being true to yourself. The hoariest of the all the chestnuts, but it’s true. If you enjoy it, they will enjoy it. You have to make yourself laugh.”

You can find Will Durst writing for Huffington Post and at his website,

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Making a Scene

As it celebrates its 30th year, Santa Cruz County’s Open Studios is one of the most successful in the country—and a make-or-break event for many local artists


A Ritual & Initiation

The Pope has come and gone, but his loving presence ignited new hope and goodness in many. While he was in NYC, China’s ruler arrived in Washington D.C. East (China) and West (Rome), meeting in the middle, under Libra, balancing sign of Right Relations. The Pope arrived at Fall Equinox. Things initiated at Fall Equinox are birthed at Winter Solstice. The Pope’s presence was a ritual, an initiation rite—like the Dalai Lama’s visits—offering prayers, teachings and blessings. Rituals anchor God’s plan into the world, initiating us to new realities, new rules. The Pope’s presence brings forth the Soul of the United States, its light piercing the veils of materialism. The Pope’s visit changed things. New questions arise, new reasons for living. A new wave of emerging life fills the air. Like a cocoon shifting, wings becoming visible. The winds are different now. Calling us to higher vision, moral values, virtues that reaffirm and offer hope for humanity. A changing of the guard has occurred. Appropriately, this is the week of the Jewish Festival of Sukkoth (’til Oct. 4), when we build temporary homes (little huts in nature), entering into a harvest of prayer and thanksgiving, understanding our fragile and impermanent existences. We are summoned to reflect upon our lives, our humanity, our nature, our spirit and each other. Offering gratitude, becoming a magnet for others. We observe. We see the needs. We love more.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 2

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Extra Pop

Assembly’s pop-up space goes into regular rotation, Cabrillo wine dinner, and a visit to Mozaic


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist


Downhill Cellars

An easy-drinking Chardonnay from Downhill Cellars


If whales have a message for humans, what might it be?

“Do not come in the water and join us.” Howard Hall, Santa Cruz, Retired