Will Durst has been a humorist and provocateur for 37 years, performing at events featuring political figures such as Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Now, he’s returning to Lodi for its Leadership Forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on June 21. For more information on the forum, visit www.lodichamber.com.
Q: Have you ever been to Lodi? If so, what do you like to do when you visit?
A: I’ve been there before. I like to go to local coffee shops and look at the bulletin board.
Q: What will you touch on at the Leadership Forum in Lodi?
A: I have so much material written, with the election going on. I’m like an Olympian every four years.
Q: You’ve spoken at Leadership Forum before. Do you like to do those types of events or stand-up types of shows?
A: I really liked the Leadership Forum, because they came to listen to the words ... and they’re all facing forward.
Q: What makes a good audience?
A: A good audience is familiar with my subject matter. They are people who read or know someone who does.
Q: You live in the Bay Area now. Are you from the Bay Area?
A: I live in San Francisco. I was in the Midwest and moved here in 1980. I perform in the Valley about twice a year — around Stockton, Modesto or Tracy.
Q: Are you always creating new material, or are you able to use a lot of your work over and over?
A: I talk about that on stage. The hardest part is getting rid of your old stuff. You finally get halfway decent at a bit and you have to get rid of it.
Q: You started in comedy 37 years ago. How did that start come?
A: In college (at Milwaukee), it was a cross between journalism and theater. I was interested in both.
Q: What makes Will Durst tick? What excites
A: The Giants — that excites me. This election — I think is going to be a lot of fun. We’ve got so much: The ads, the convention and debates, and Romney’s vice presidential pick.
Q: How do you come up with your material? Does it come naturally and easily, or do you have to sit and work at it?
A: I have to write it out. I work on a line and work on a line and work on a line. Sometimes the line never works, and you have to get rid of it.
Q: What advice do you have for people who want to go into comedy or public speaking?
A: Never give up, and the only way you’re going to get good is by doing it over and over again. When they tell you to quit, don’t.
Q: Do you ever get stage fright? How do you fight it?
A: I’m nervous every time. I just pace a lot before I go on stage. Then, they announce my name and I try to get the first laugh in.
Q: How would you describe your performance?
A: It’s a chance for people to hear varying viewpoints from all across a wide expanse.
Contact Lodi Living editor Lauren Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.