Will Durst

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

"I don't even have to write material," says veteran political comic Will Durst, pulling out a cutting of George Bush's latest Presidential gaffe from his pocket. And that's the problem in these strange times; in his native America at least, the truth is as funny as anything he could invent.

He's not the first, nor will he be the last, comic to get laughs from simply reading out a list of Bush's 'special' gift with the language. Indeed, he's not the only comic I see in one evening doing that. But when the most powerful man on the planet says his number three goal is to put education first, the instinct to mock must be overpowering.

Similarly well-used is the line that to find evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, all Bush need do is look at his copy of the invoice. The scandalous truth behind it probably can't be repeated enough, but the fact that the familiar joke is greeted with a huge laugh suggest this is political comedy for those who don't hear it very often ­ or are laughing as much as a show of support as because they think it's funny.

Or it could simply be they have fallen victim to Durst's impeccable efficiency at getting the laughs, a gift you might expect from someone of his standing and experience. So whether it's Comical Ali, or the dodgy Florida elections, or Bush getting Iran and Iraq confused because they're spelled so similarly, Durst always swings in with just the right phrase to get the best gag out of the sentiment.

For gags are what drive the set along, and at a breakneck pace at that. Many political comics, often the more naïve ones, want to use the stage as a soapbox from where to propagate their manifesto ­ as if the views of a recent sociology graduate in a fashionable T-shirt mattered. But for Durst, the emphasis is on the punchlines, with no more set-up than is needed to get the laugh. It's comedy, not a constitution ­ and that's something he never forgets.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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