Will Durst in
The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing
(© Pat Johnson)
Will Durst in
The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing
(© Pat Johnson)
Taking on the Democratic party in the Bluest city in America can be risky business. So the political satirist Will Durst is discovering during the occasional silences that greet some of his barbs in The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, his often hilarious if ultimately overlong (at 85 minutes) take on the current, sad state of politics. On the other hand, he was thrilled that we did get the joke about President Bush saying the French don't have a word for entrepreneur.

As his show's title suggests, Durst is an equal opportunity offender, but that doesn't mean he's giving equal time to lampooning the right and the left. And it's not just that George W. Bush and his cronies provide Durst with such a slew of rich material. As he smartly points out: "It's hard to pick on the Democrats, because you can't really mock a vacuum." Still, John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, and Hillary Clinton might all be advised to stay away from New World Stages right now.

If you haven't heard of Durst, you're probably not alone -- which is I suspect the main reason director Eric Krebs has chosen to start the show with a lengthy video montage of Durst's numerous appearances on CNBC, MSNBC, The David Letterman Show, and other television shows. Even if the opening occasionally feels a tad self-aggrandizing, you have to admire a man who is this willing to visually advertise decades of hair loss.

Durst, whose delivery reminds me of a lower-key, profanity-free Lewis Black (as odd as that sounds), knows how to deliver a punch line, complete with the perfect facial expression or expertly timed pause. As a result, he gets off plenty of on-target one-liners that leave audiences howling. (For some reason, I was particularly amused by his bit about PETA.) Durst's special venom is reserved for Dick Cheney -- whom he claims is literally the devil -- but the evening's biggest target is "W," of whom he says: "He's like if Reagan and Quayle had a kid." Throughout the show, Durst approaches the 43rd President with that now-familiar mix of disgust and empathy even if his biggest detractors tend to favor.

Still, early on in the show -- perhaps too early --Durst rattles off a half-dozen actual Bush quotes to illustrate the man's ignorance and stupidity, and they end up being the funniest moments in the whole shebang. (Did he really say that about imports. Oh my, yes he did!)

Durst's scenic backdrop for the evening is a large pile of newspapers, and I really expected him to make greater use of them. Little more than passing references are made to truly up-to-the-minute events; I was quite surprised that Durst was more obsessed with Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron's home-run record than Karl Rove's resignation that morning.

Not everything in the act is strictly political; and while I do think it's time to retire the Starbucks bit, I admit I will never think about Strawberry Quik the same way ever again. And, thanks to Durst, I will think even more than I planned to about our candidates before the next Presidential election. If you hear me chuckling in the voting booth next November, you'll know why.