“We’re sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” Will Durst announces with a twisted little smile. “And…and maybe a little nap.”
Durst is talking about h-h-h-his generation (and mine), the baby boomers. We are so named because we were born between 1946 and 1964, when the business of being born was, well, booming.
For those of you who are not actually boomers, I want you to imagine the icons of the generation: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin…their luminous eyes, their funky clothes, their long hair blowing in the wind. They are icons because they died in their twenties, and thus are forever young. Now look at Durst (or, for that matter, me.) Iron-grey goatee, neatly trimmed, bald in front but long graying hair in back, wearing a natty suit, but with rainbow suspenders and open collar, to show our defiance. We didn’t die in our twenties, and are thus forever old.
We are a generation which pronounced, “Make love, not war” and “Greed is good” within a decade’s time. We thus managed (most of us) to avoid death or serious injury in warfare, and became rich with a tax cut. There’s a theme to this, but I’ll let you figure it out.
It is perhaps more difficult to discern the theme for Durst, a San Francisco-based stand-up comic. He riffs on the progress of current events from 1946 to the present. Using a charmingly retro overhead projector, he reintroduces us to the Presidency, which he presents as variations on Kennedy vs. Nixon (both of whom, he notes, first joined Congress in 1946). This is a little strained; what was remarkable about Kennedy and Nixon is how politically similar (though personally different) they were. Kennedy was a conservative Democrat (initiated two wars; cut taxes) and Nixon was a liberal Republican (EPA, minority set-asides, opening to China). Their successors, at least from Reagan to Obama, represented a sea change.
BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG
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The rest is better. Durst has done stand-up for a long time, and knows how to win over an audience. Gravel-voiced and peppery, he runs through his grievances against the present age (automated public lavatories and snotty baristas); the perils of living in his adopted home town (artisanal everything and outrageous real estate prices); how he is now saying the things that he heard old people saying in the days of his youth and which he vowed never to say; alternate titles to his presentation. (My favorite “Hope I die before I…oh, too late.”)
The sparse crowd (he counts the house for us: we were ten) was slow getting into the show, but Durst has been doing this a long time, and he could read us and discern what direction to go from our reactions. His routine is not enormously funny, but by the time he reaches his stirring conclusion (it invokes Euripides: “We know not till evening comes how sweet the day has been”) we are comfortably on his side, giggling and snorting as appropriate.
Well, that’s it for me. Time for a little nap now.